Thinking about switching to Olympus OM system, need some guidance...
Hello everyone, I am currently thinking about what to do regarding an SLR because I miss shooting with one. Long story short, after some time my beloved Nikon FE became completely unreliable (shutter jams frequently) even after a CLA and my dad's old Kiev-19 F-mount SLR just jammed recently out of the blue. This left me with two lenses, the Helios-81 50mm f2 and the Nikkor AI 28mm f2.8. I have been shooting mostly medium format for the past few months and haven't even thought about SLRs in a while until I recently started to get back to shooting more 35mm with my Olympus 35 SP rangefinder. I realize how much I miss the feel of my FE and want another, but I am now wary of them (even though I probably shouldn't be).
For some time now I have been very intrigued by the Olympus OM series SLRs. After doing some research, I realized that an Olympus OM-2/OM-2n would be a great replacement for my Nikon FE seeing how it shares a lot of the same features (main one being aperture priority). The OM appeals to me with its smaller size and larger viewfinder (amongst other factors), but I have a few questions.
- What's the difference between the OM-2 and OM-2n (not interested in the sp version)?
- A big concern for me was reading that the aperture priority caps the shutter at 120 seconds on the OM-2. What I like about my Nikon FE was that it could automatically time exposures for many minutes (hours even supposedly). Is it true that you cannot go past the measly 2 minutes?
- Olympus lenses are supposed to be great optically (the G-Zuiko on my 35 SP is amazingly sharp), but I've read that the build quality of them is not the greatest. This sounds like baloney, but I want to make sure it's false, anyone care to chime in? I absolutely love the feel of my Nikkor lens and every other (manual focus) Nikkor lens that I've handled. Do the Oly OM lenses compare well?
- I also read that the OM-2 eats batteries quickly, but I'm not sure if it only applies to the OM-2sp or the other models. I've never had to change the batteries in my FE since owning it for close to a year, I would like to not have to do it often. How is the battery life on the OM-2?
OM lenses seem to be cheaper than comparable Nikkors, so that's another great plus. I hope that I can like the OM enough to get one, so help me out in my decision. I'm also open to any other advice regarding the OM vs Nikon system debate, let's hear what you can say. Thanks!
the difference between the OM-2 and the OM-2n is that the OM-2n cuts the long time exposures at 120 seconds to save batterie energy. The OM's have a horizontal rubberized cloth shutter with 1/60 synchro time whereas the FE has a vertical metal shutter and 1/125. I'm not quite sure but I think the OM-2n has a better electronic circuit than the OM-2. The OM-4 was known for having an unreliable electronic circuit which quickly emptied the batteries of older cameras like some FE-2's do, the OM-4Ti (with titanium top cover) was o.k. and is the best of all OM's and is capable of measuring contrast on several spots. Olympus had many specialized accessories for macro. The shutter speed on the OM is set with a ring on the lense flange and not with the wheel on the top which is very uncommon. The OM-2 measures the reflected light from a statistical pattern which is printed on the shutter curtain before exposure and during the open shutter phase from the film surface. You'll find much more used Nikkors than Zuikos, some of them have a real cult-status (and price).
Look up KEH to see what is available.
If you're after an aperture-priority and manual camera, then you won't go wrong with the Olympus OM-2n. This and the manual-only OM-1 were both outstanding SLR's and very reliable. I've never personally heard of any issues with regards to the build quality of the Zuiko lenses so I wouldn't concern myself too much about that if you've got your mind set on an Olympus system.
The Nikon FE2 replaced the FE in around 1982, so you may wish to have a look at this model before deciding. Again, this is an excellent camera and as already mentioned, Nikkor lenses are more widely available on the used market.
Admittedly, the Nikon FM3a is much more expensive but this is pretty much like the FM2 and FE2 combined into one. It offers aperture priority and full manual, but the beauty with this one is it's fully mechanical in the event of battery failure so can be used at all shutter speeds. It's also the most recent of Nikon's manual-focus SLR's having only ceased production in around 2006. They do command high prices however, particularly in good condition but I thought perhaps you may want to consider this model too.
MIR is your best friend here. Theres a page on the OM-2, look that up too.
What keeps me attached to Olympus rather than Nikon/Canon/Minolta is how the shutter speed dial is on the lens mount, not the top plate. This makes shooting in manual a breeze. Furthermore since an OM-1n was my first SLR, all the other systems just feel "wrong" to me despite using the "traditional" layout.
The other thing I like about my OM-2n is how sensitive the meter is in low light;I believe a range of
-5.5EV to +18EV. I think this remains unsurpassed in 35mm cameras.
Zuiko lenses are great, apparently the photography magazines of the day ranked them top of the pile, along with Nikkors. Build quality is just as good. However Jochen is right, there are far more Nikon lenses (esp. 3rd party) on the used market. If you're after a specific and not particularly common model at a decent price, you may have to wait a little.
The other thing is that Olympus made several manufacturing changes throughout the production lifetime. For example, Chrome tipped variants are older and regarded to be a little softer, plus lack multicoating; the last "Made in Japan" 50mm/1.8 version is the finest; 50mm/1.4 models with a higher serial numbers (esp. >1,100,000) are better than those made earlier. But sample-to-sample variation exists at much greater incidence of equipment of this vintage (this probably explains your Nikon FE woes).
Ultimately though, you will find faults with the OM system/OM-2. I for one would have preferred a fixed hotshoe with an ISO range that extends to 3200, and the highly praised small, compact form of the OM bodies feels slightly awkward in my large bear-like hands (a Nikon F5 was perfect). But our cameras, despite being mass produced, are very personal items in the way we use them. It could help if you take time to imagine using the system, trying to weigh up the how it might hinder/help your photography.
Oh and the OM-2sp is the one that eats batteries!
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These days with just a modicum amount of patience, you can get a nice OM-2n for not a lot of money.
Go with the 'n' model as it has newer design electronics.
As alluded to above, OM-2n has one of the best implementation of aperture-priority meter in the industry.
I'm amazed at the ability of the camera to handle tricky lighting situations.
The second main attraction to the OM system is the "elite" Zuiko lenses (most of them can be identified simply by having max. aperture of f/2 to f/2.8).
I would choose an OM-2n as my first OM camera. While OM-1n is a true manual classic, I *never* bother with the meter on my OM-1n.
Here's another vote for the OM2n it's small light and robust. Shopping around will turn up a good buy. To some though the location of the shutter speeds need getting used to, being around the throat of the lens. And the aperture in use is not visible in the viewfinder.
As mentioned the newer lenses are optically improved and are of just as good build quality as the Nikkors.
Damn good cameras. I have 2 OM2s now and couldn't be happier. They do a far better job than my Bessa and cost 10 times less.
The OM-2n (and OM-1n) use the Silicon Blue photocell, which is superior to the CdS (cadmium sulfide) photocell found in the OM-1 and OM-2 bodies. As for battery life, the OM-1n and OM-2n only consumed battery for metering, not for mechanical shutter control...the 1.35v mercury battery would last a year. The OM-2sp had an electronically controlled shutter and used silver oxide batteries, like the OM-4, and both consumed batteries at a much faster rate (Olympus released the OM-4T to address the battery consumption issue) While the OM-4 had a superb multispot metering system which set the standard for the world, the viewfinder of the OM-1 and OM-2 was far superior in viewfinder size because the newer bodies had to cram in so much supplemental information into the display area, competing with the focusing screen for space.
Last edited by wiltw; 07-08-2011 at 09:01 AM. Click to view previous post history.
OM-2N is an excellent choice. Though the instruction book lists long exposure limit at 120 seconds (2 min.) in use you'll find actual exposure will stretch out to more like 210 seconds (3.5 minutes). The 2N has all the factory improvements that ever went into the 2. OM-2/2N both have silicon blue photocells. These cells read off the first curtain/film for auto exposure. Meter needle position is determined by 2 cds cells aimed at the focus screen. 2/2N shutter speeds (except for B) are battery dependent. Battery life (silver oxide only please) is excellent, no battery drain issues. John