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  1. #1

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    OM-1 vs OM-2: help me decide!

    After seeing a friend's medium format pictures I've decided get a film camera or two (the second being potentially a Minolta Autocord). I have an old digital rebel so it would make the most sense if I stuck with Canon and got an older film rebel or, perhaps, purchased an Elan 7e liked I used to own (and loved). So of course I've decided on an Olymus OM-1 or -2. I made the leap mostly because I found out about the OM-1 and OM-2 and couldn't resist. It's a beautiful camera, and nice and small.

    So, my decision. The easy part is color. Chrome, of course, it's too classic not to get it, although the black almost does tempt me. Perhaps in the future I could get a black OM-4 if I end up loving the OM-1 or OM-2. But the -4 is too expensive right now and I don't need it.

    But the hard part is whether I should get the OM-1(n) or OM-2(n).

    Also, I'm probably going to be getting one on keh. I think I understand the following as displayed on keh:
    OM-1 MD: Later version that has motor drive. I don't need. Plus I'd get the N anyway I think...
    OM-1 Engraved: Has engraving on lens mount? I don't see why one would care... if anyone has any insight that'd be great.
    OM-1 1.5 Volt: has had conversion to battery. Doesn't matter to me too much.
    Without shoe: doesn't have flash shoe. Doesn't matter, I never shoot flash.

    But first I need to decide whether to get the OM-1n or the OM-2n. I've done my homework. Here's what I know.

    OM-1n: Has the appeal of a beautiful mechanical machine. This really seems to be the only advantage. At first I thought I didn't care, but then I started thinking about it more and realized that this is a great appeal. Part of the reason I like the OM at all is its simplicity and its mechanical beauty. Now, practically speaking, I would likely never or rarely use the camera without a battery, so it's really just more the mechanical appeal. Also, it seems through most of my searches that most people that own multiple OM-cameras say that if they had to keep one it would be the OM-1. Through my searches it looks like the OM-1n is preferred to the OM-1 because it has some minor updates, including better foam around the prism?

    OM-2n: I think this camera only has three advantages to the OM-1n for me. First is its aperture-priority mode. Second is its display in this mode of the shutter speed. I feel that with this feature it would have all, or most of, the modern features and convenience I care about. It seems these advantages would allow one to take pictures continually taking the camera of one's eye. It seems with the OM-1n that to take a picture I would have to put the camera to set the F-stop, put the camera to my eye and focus and adjust the shutter speed, then pull the camera away and check to make sure the shutter speed is high enough and potentially repeat this process. Maybe that's not annoying, maybe it is. Maybe the only way to find out if that annoys me is to get the OM-1n. Third, and I'm not sure if this is true or not, is that its meter seems to be much better and potentially more reliable. I don't want to have the old CdS meter on the OM-1 break after a couple of years and never work again. I think that if this third bit wasn't true, I'd swing for the OM-1n. If it is true, I have a harder time choosing, especially since I probably won't be in a situation very often if at all where I don't have a battery, or at least I'm willing to risk that.

    It's important to note that the following differences are of no concern to me: mirror lock-up, flash capabilities, motor drive capabilities, battery problems.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Get 2 of each.

  3. #3
    eurekaiv's Avatar
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    I can't help you with your dilemma as my familiarity with OM system items is non-existant but I can tell you that "engraved" at Keh typically means someone has etched their initials, name, SSN, lock combination or some other bit of pointless dribble somewhere into the cameras metal case. It matters very little to me and I was happy to get my engraved FE2 from them for a fantastic price but if you want something minty fresh or don't want to risk having Hugh Jass carved into the back, you may want to go with an "EXC" version.

  4. #4
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Engraving affects re-sale value. It might also confuse an insurance company if you tried to make an insurance claim for a camera with someone else's number engraved on it. Conversion to newer batteries (only necessary for the OM-1 variants) will also affect resale value.

    If you are considering an OM-1 that is neither an OM-1 MD or an OM-1n, then it is really old!

    When the first OM-1 came out, it had room for the motor drive connections, but it was necessary to send the camera back to Olympus to have the necessary installation and modification performed. Olympus was amazed by how many requests they received for that work, so they quickly decided (1975?) to include that facility in all of their new cameras, and designate those bodies as an MD model. That decision was made very early on, and relatively few plain OM bodies were made.

    The OM-1 meters are pretty reliable - once battery issues are sorted out. There are more problems with deteriorated foam. A good CLA will deal with both (assuming no damage from the foam.

    For both cameras, with only a little bit of practice, you can tell by feel what aperture and shutter speed are set. Having both the aperture and shutter speed dials concentric around the lens really helps with this.

    If it helps you, I'll give you my perspective.

    I began shooting an OM-1 (no MD) in 1974. I've had and used several OM bodies since then, including an OM-1 MD and an OM-1n. I'm now down to an OM-2s (bought new in the 1980s) and an OM-2n (bought used from eBay in the 2000s) and a couple of OM-Gs bought for tiny prices on eBay.

    I no longer have a purely manual OM body, but I would be happy to use one again (I use the meter in manual at least half the time).

    I do shoot flash, and make good use of the TTl flash options.

    And I don't use motor drives!

    My suggestion would be to choose the first good option available. If you like OM bodies (of course you will ) then you will want another one anyways.

    Hope this helps.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  5. #5
    flash26c's Avatar
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    I have one of each; the OM1 has B&W film, the OM2, slide film. Is one better than the other? I love them both!!! You will too ----

  6. #6
    RH Designs's Avatar
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    I'd go for the OM-2(n). No battery issues, and you don't even have to switch it on to get a correct auto exposure because the exposure metering is switched on by the mirror flipping up. The viewfinder meter is separate to the auto exposure. The electronics are no longer repairable but seem so reliable that this is really not an issue. OM-2s are cheap enough that if one goes wrong, it's probably cheaper to buy another!
    Regards,
    Richard.

    RH Designs - My Photography

  7. #7
    baachitraka's Avatar
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    Get OM-1n and OM-2n. A good CLA for OM-1n will last for next 10-20 years and other things to consider are the lenses. Certainly they are not cheap.

    I personally recommend cameras with M42 mount.

    If you have enough case then think about Nikon FM2n or FM3a.
    OM-1n: Do I need to own a Leica?
    Rolleicord Va: Humble.
    Holga 120GFN: Amazingly simple yet it produces outstanding negatives to print.

  8. #8
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I've been shooting Oly's since the FTL, which predates the OM-1 by a couple of years, then switched to OM-1 around the same time as Matt. I currantly have 3 OM-1n's an OM-1(w/MD capability), OM-2n, OM-4, and many lenses. The OM-2 and OM-4 sit alot, whilst the OM-1's are almost always out 'n about with someone in the family. All my bodies sport Winder-2's, mainly because of my limited use of right hand. Batteries are never an issue with any of them. The greatest convenience of the OM-2 is on AP mode, the camera does not have to be switched on for a correct exposure, but it must be in the off(or AUTO) position, as manual mode will not allow anything other than the exposure it is set for.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

  9. #9

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    Get a good fully functional OM-2N first. In lieu of the OM-4T, you might consider the OM-2S which has spot metering. Personally, I prefer spot metering as I know what range of latitude I get from my films and spot metering gives me the best control. The Olympus off the film metering was one of many Olympus pioneering advances.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by RH Designs View Post
    I'd go for the OM-2(n). No battery issues, and you don't even have to switch it on to get a correct auto exposure because the exposure metering is switched on by the mirror flipping up. The viewfinder meter is separate to the auto exposure. The electronics are no longer repairable but seem so reliable that this is really not an issue. OM-2s are cheap enough that if one goes wrong, it's probably cheaper to buy another!
    AFAIK the OM2n is built from discrete electronics which still is repairable. As opposed to all later models, which use integrated circuitry in form of ASICS. These seem to deteriorate with time and must be replaced. If these ASICS are out of stock, the body will make an elegant paperweight, if the electronics is defective. Canibalizing an other body does not help much in the long run, as the harvested parts are as old as the defective parts they will replace. As the deterioration is a function of time, all OM-Bodies made after the OM2n will be paperweights by the time. It's beginning with the OM2s.
    Second lesson to learn from this: There will be no running classic cars in the future from contemporary cars, just grounded showroom models, as modern cars all use ASICS in their engine management electronics.

    Ulrich

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