OM-1 and OM-1n
I started out with an Olympus OM-1 and I have added to it slightly. This past Christmas my loving wife gave me an OM-1n. It was purchased (along with a zuiko 50mm f/1.8 miJ lens attached) for $100 off Ebay.
Eventually I am hoping to acquire at least one of each model of OM professional cameras. My main interests are getting my OM-1’s light meter fixed, acquiring an OM-2n (maybe 2 OM-2ns), an OM-3 and an OM-4 or an OM-4ti.
The Olympus OM-1 is a great camera. It looks wonderful (to my eyes), is quite small and is very light. The OM series seems to have a great lens line up, though maybe not quite as extensive as Nikon or Canon. The OM-1 series of cameras are all manual with no electronics except for a light meter. My OM-1 seems to have the terminal broken for the battery contact as the terminal is very lose in the battery compartment and the light meter does not function.
One of the interesting things about the OM-1 cameras is that even with the meter off the needle indicating exposure will move with the shutter speed dial if you turn the shutter speed to 1/4s or less, even though an accurate/any exposure is not actually being indicated.
This also means that no matter the speed of the film any shutter speed settings of 1/4s or slower are not indicating the proper exposure.
My OM-1n camera is an updated version of the OM-1. It has slightly better materials inside, a revised winding lever and an LED in the view finder to indicate when the flash is charged and ready to fire. This OM-1n also has a working light meter, which is extremely useful as the sunny/16 rule only gets you so far, especially for indoor/low light photography.
Both of my OM cameras need the light seals replaced. On my original OM-1 the light seals and mirror bumper material had significantly degraded. They were still functioning well enough that there weren’t any light leaks, but it looked a mess and it was only a matter of time before the material degraded enough that light leaks would occur. On my OM-1n the light seals were even further gone and I replaced them and the mirror bumper material before even running a roll of film through the camera. I purchased the light seal material from John Goodman’s website http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/sealreplacement.html you can also find him on Ebay with the user name interslice. The material is cheap and it is enough to replace the light seals on several cameras.
One of the features of the OM-1 cameras is a multiple exposure capability. To do a multiple exposure you first turn the rewind knob/crank on the top left of the camera in a clockwise direction until all of the slack has been taken up on the film. Then turn the film direction knob on the front of the camera to R (reverse) and then while holding the film rewind knob advance the shutter lever. The film counter will increment 1 frame, but the film will not actually advance, but the shutter will now be cocked for another image. I tried this out for the first time during the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago with acceptable results. It might not work as well for a daylight multiple exposure as I have heard there can be some slipping in the film when attemping this. Below is my 3 shot multiple exposure of the lunar eclipse.
I recently acquired a black body OM-2 camera. It was in poor condition cosmetically with serious brassing and somewhat rounded off battery and motor drive covers. I had a chance to shoot a roll of film with it before I sold it off (bought it for a song and sold it for a bit more). The automatic mode seemed to be spot on to the manual metering. One thing I did note in my limited time with the camera is that it is a bit of a hassel to manually dial in correction to the exposure and its easier just to switch the camera to manual when you are dealing with a subject that is going to require exposure compensation.
The camera also seemed to be having an issue where the mirror would lockup after firing. There were fresh batteries in the camera and I had throughly cleaned the mirror and replace the light seals and mirror bumpers, so I am not sure exactly what was wrong there, but it happened twice in the 25 exposures on the roll of film. The camera has a button on the bottom of the bayonet to allow you to drop the mirror when it locks up, you hold in the button and twist the shutter speed ring to B and it will drop the mirror. The exposure compensation is dialed in by rotating the exposure compensation knob and the film ISO is adjusted by pulling up the same knob and then rotating it.
Something I didn’t really realize I would like about the OM-2 is the all black scheme. I am a big fan of the brushed chrome on black of my OM-1 and OM-1n, but the black on black of this OM-2 actually looked kind of sexy, especially with a zuiko 50mm f/1.8 mounted on the camera. Even though I like the black on black scheme I think my next OM-2(n) purchase will be chrome on black, at least if I am going to keep it for my own use.
Olympus made a number of focus screens available for their cameras. A relatively unique feature of the OM-x series of cameras (OM-1, OM-2…) is that they have a replacable focus screen. The prism cannont be replaced in the cameras, but the focus screens can be and easily. Early OM-1 cameras and I think possibly early OM-2 cameras came with the 1-1 screen, which is a small center dot microprism screen. The center dot appears jumbled until the proper focus is achieved and then it becomes clear and focused. The focusing screen works with lenses as slow as f/5.6 before the center dot becomes dark (doesn’t show focus). OM-1n and OM-2n and possibly later OM-1 and OM-2 cameras came with the 1-13 screen which is a split screen (horizontal) center dot sorrounded by a microprism (similar to the 1-1). When focus is achieved the two halves of the image are aligned.
There are a number of other focus screens available, though I won’t go in to the full list (it can be found here).
Since I have an OM-1 and an OM-1n camera I have both the 1-1 and 1-13 focus screens. The 1-13 works, but I really don’t like the split image focusing. I recently acquired a 1-2 focusing screen from KEH ($30 pefect condition) to replace the 1-1 that I had placed in my OM-1n. This allowed me to move my 1-1 to my OM-1 so that I can have a mircoprism center dot focus screen for both cameras. The 1-2 focus screen has about as fine a focus as the 1-1 and is microprism center dot, but it functions down to f/8 instead of f/5.6 and the matte area is supposedly ground rougher to allow easier focusing using dimmer and telephoto lenses. I purposely bought the 1-2 because of my Vivitar 300 f/5.6 and Sigma 400 f/5.6 lenses as the 1-1 and 1-13 screens wouldn’t function or would function poorly with those lenses. The 1-2 doesn’t function great with such a long and dim telephoto lens, but it does work okay, which is better then no focus aid which the 1-1 and 1-13 were providing before.