The Lesser OM Family Member
I'm still waiting for the terrible day when my faithful Olympus OM10 develops an infirmity or (Heaven forbid) gives up the spirit altogether. Not that I can detect any visible or audible signs of that calamity approaching, but browsing analog photo forums, including APUG, has convinced me that it cannot be far away, and I can only prepare myself to bear it with fortitude.
I have and use other cameras, but my old OM10 is very dear to me. I bought it second-hand in 1992, and for the past two decades the two of us have spent uncounted happy hours together, producing thousands of technically, if not artistically perfectly usable negatives. The faithful machine has never let me down: not once has it exhibited the smallest malfunction, not once has it displayed reluctance to comply with my orders, and not once has it complained of work overload. In return it has asked for nothing but occasional gentle cleaning, a little tender care, and perhaps a shining new lens on the occasion of an anniversary. Myself being well into the sixties, we have jokingly pondered which of us will outlive the other. I consider myself very lucky to have and hold this camera which has never spoiled a shot for me. "Who can find a virtuous SLR? for its price is far above rubies," about sums up our happy relationship.
Or rather did sum it up, until I unwisely did a generic search for "OM10" on various analog photography forum sites and had a severe shock. The number of posts maligning this camera is simply overwhelming. One is left with the impression that the OM10 - quite apart from being a waste of money and not worth using, let alone owning - was a catastrophe and a scandal, an insult to serious photography and ditto photographers. "Cheap; consumer grade; budget quality; crap; mass market; flawed design; junk; unreliable; frequent issues ..." In short: a camera not worthy of the name. Owners should expect it to disintegrate or melt down any minute. It's for the dustbin; it doesn't even merit an assignation as a doorpost.
For quite a while I was a broken man. There is nothing so disheartening as to have your prized treasure denigrated by supposedly knowledgeable experts. No matter how satisfied you have been with your possession so far, an ugly doubt enters your soul to fester there for ever after. There is a thorn in your flesh; the relationship has been tainted, the trust is gone. After reading the massive onslaught, I hardly dared take my OM10 out, lest the exertion of shooting a few frames make its poor, fragile innards stop working.
I was actually tempted to lay the camera to premature rest in a cupboard and finally go digital, because I felt that no other analog SLR would be able to take the place of my OM10 in my heart, but fortunately my brain started working again, and my usual spirit of obstinacy reasserted itself. I took a fresh look at the OM10. Didn't more than two decades of faithful service prove the detractors wrong, or at least not a hundred percent right? Expecting the worst, I loaded an inexpensive film and set out to capture some windy autumn impressions on silver gelatin, and soon the OM10 and I were clicking happily away just like before. The camera passed the test gallantly without jamming or breaking down, and as I hanged 36 well-exposed frames up to dry that evening, I decided to forget about all the ugly things I had read about this particular OM model, and trust my own experience instead.
While I am quite ready to believe that some OM10 cameras have given grief to some users, perhaps even to many, my own experience proves that not all OM10s are junk. When I rise to defend my defamed companion, I do so not least to give solace and support to other hitherto happy OM10 owners who might let themselves be depressed by the pervasive, sweeping criticism of their chosen tool. I also think that Mr. Maitani would have been gratified to know that there are photographers who do not consider the OM10 a sad mistake. The scathing scorn which some forum contributors see fit to heap upon the camera should be tempered, I think, with sympathy for the man who let the broad masses enjoy, in some measure and at an affordable price, the excellence of the OM camera series. And while we're at it, mass market products are not necessarily inferior (planned obsolescence being a quite different matter); as far as I know, the popular AK47 rifles, produced in really vast quantities, continue to give uniform satisfaction and are still in constant demand among those who shoot other things than pictures.
Admittedly, the OM10 is but a poor relative of the single digit OM aristocracy, but even a lesser member of a noble family deserves to be treated with civility, if not with respect ... if it behaves. Mine does. Still. Blissfully ignorant of any slander.