1970's Olympus

Olympus OM-2

Olympus OM-2

The small, compact, and light Olympus OM-2 is a design classic that was initially released in 1975.

Possibly one of the most beautiful cameras ever designed, the OM-2 came with the same compact, sturdy design of the OM-1. However, unlike its predecessor, the OM-2 was an electronic SLR camera that featured an automatic exposure system that extended its functionality further.

But what makes this camera so unique?

Olympus OM-2 Unique Features

Although often underrated, the Olympus OM-2 came with various unique features.

Firstly, The OM-2 was the first camera to have the Automatic Dynamic Metering (ADM) TTL system. Also known as the OTF (Off the Film) metering, this system enabled the camera to gauge light through the lens and not through the external light meter.

The second unique feature of the OM-2 was the introduction of the aperture-priority automatic exposure system. The auto-exposure system enabled the camera to set a shutter speed based on the aperture value (f-number) that the user selects. Using this feature ensures that you get the appropriate exposure on an image based on the amount of light going through the light meter at that time.

And that’s not all,

You can also use the OM-2 in manual mode.

When in manual mode, a needle in the viewfinder will show you the shutter speed and which aperture to set.

As if that’s not enough…

Do you have an OM-1? You can easily upgrade to the OM-2.

One of the OM-2 main selling points was the fact that you could use all OM-1 accessories on the OM-2 without any modifications.

What about the optics?

The OM-2 came with the 50 mm F. Zuiko F 1.4 lens that offers excellent sharpness

And let’s not forget about the viewfinder.

Like its predecessor, the OM-2 featured a large and bright viewfinder that made it easy to view the metering needle and display exposure compensation when in auto mode.

Physical Appearance and Design Overview

With a body similar to the OM-1, the OM-2 was and is still appealing to many analog photographers.

Let’s start at the top.

On the left, you have the easy to use rewind crank that’s made of durable metal.

Next to it is the mode selector that has the manual, off, and auto options. The off option allows you to switch off the light meter when you’re not using it. When you leave it on, it will drain your battery. Above the auto option, there’s a check feature that allows you to check the battery levels through an LED light. When the battery’s full, it lights red. When the battery is drained, the light blinks. The shutter may not work when the battery is depleted, so make sure you check the battery levels regularly.

In the middle of the camera, you have the hot shoe, which you can use to connect a flash unit.

Next, you have the ISO dial, which also acts as a film speed selector.

The shutter release button is next to the exposure compensation dial.

On the far right, there is the film advance lever. It is composed of durable metal, and it’s very stable, unlike the plastic levers.

Now to the face

Similar to the OM-1, the OM-2 featured an aperture ring located on the front of the lens.

The focus ring is located behind the aperture ring with the shutter speed dial being situated at the front of the lens mount.

The OM-2 also features a self-timer that gives you and your friends about 12 seconds to pose.

Olympus OM-2 MD

Olympus later released the Olympus OM-2 MD, which has a distinct label MD on the front side of the camera.

The main difference between the OM-2 and the OM-2 MD was that the OM-2 MD came with a removable cap where the motor drive could be attached,

Earlier OM-2 versions required the user to go to a service facility to enable attachment of the motor.

Shortcomings of the OM-2

The use of foam as a light trap in the pentaprism is a design flaw that may affect your use of the Olympus OM-2.

In some instances, the foam decays and destroys the pentaprism mirror.

Before buying an OM-2 camera, look through the viewfinder. If you see dot blemishes, don’t buy the camera.

Final Thoughts

The OM-2 is a little bit heavier than the OM-1, but not as heavy as most cameras released at that time. Whether you’re a digital shooter interested in film photography, or a student who would love to learn Film photography, the Olympus OM-2.

1970's Olympus

Olympus OM-1

Olympus OM-1

If you were to ask any analogue photographer about their most favorite 35mm SLR camera, you’d be bombarded by the number of people who’d mention the Olympus OM-1

The Olympus OM-1 revolutionized SLR cameras. Unlike other models at that time, the OM-1 came in a compact and light design that enhanced its efficiency.

First released in 1972 as the Olympus M1, the camera was later renamed OM-1 in 1973 after Leica disputed the name

Olympus OM-1 Unique Features

If you’re used to the traditional SLR, the OM-1 will take some effort and adjusting to get used to

The first thing you’ll notice about this camera is its small, compact, and lightweight design.

But don’t let this fool you.

The minimalist design of the OM-1 features multiple unique features that make this camera a favorite among many analogue photographers.

One of the most unique features of the OM-1 is its large and bright viewfinder. With the large viewfinder, you can comfortably use the camera with a wide-angle lens.

Another unique feature of the OM-1 is its lifespan.

After renaming the camera as OM-1, Olympus designers improved the camera’s hardiness by making it rustproof.

Let’s not forget about the optics

The Olympus OM-1 comes with the impressive 50MM Zuiko f/1.8 lens, which delivers high-quality shots.

As if that’s not enough

You also get a choice of 16 different lenses to use with the OM-1

And that’s not all.

Unlike other cameras in the OM series, the OM-1 came with a mirror lock-up facility, which makes it suitable for microphotography and astrophotography.

Later in 1974, Olympus released the Olympus OM-1 MD, which came with an inbuilt motor drive. Although the previous OM-1 cameras came with plates where the motor drive could be attached, the 1974 version featured an inbuilt motor.

The motor drive automates the film making it easy to use and more efficient compared to the manual film mechanism.

Design Features

Olympus cameras are known for their high quality and intuitive design features. And the OM-1 was not left behind.

The minimalist design of the OM-1 allowed innovative placement of the different buttons

On top of the camera, you have

  • The on and off light switch,
  • A hot-shoe attachment,
  • The film advance,
  • The ISO and ASA dial and
  • Shutter release.

At the front (face) of the camera, you have

  • The shutter speed dial located near the lens mount,
  • An easy to use aperture ring that you can use to increase from F1.8 to F16
  • A focusing ring situated right behind the aperture ring
  • A lens release button, and
  • A self-timer that gives you 12 seconds to pose.

It also features the SLR’s split-prism that gives more detail in an image and a sharper focus.

Since it’s straightforward, this camera is suitable for beginners and professionals alike. The 50-millimetre lens is ideal for an outdoor photography session.

Shortcomings of the OM-1

The OM-1 comes with a built-in light meter that’s powered by a 1.34 V battery that’s hard to find.

The other shortcoming with the OM-1 is the film advance. Olympus is known for high-quality products. However, the film advance dial feels a bit low quality compared to other parts of the camera.

Final Verdict

Would I recommend the OM-1?

You bet.

The OM-1 is one of the best SLR cameras in the market. It’s small and light, solid and precise, and you won’t find a better viewfinder.

If you’re a beginner at analogue photography, this is the camera for you.

1970's Olympus

Olympus M-1

Olympus M1

Famous for its lightweight, small size, and incredible viewfinder, the Olympus M-1 is arguably one of the best 35mm SLR cameras.

Initially introduced in 1972 as the Olympus M-1, the camera was later renamed OM-1 after Leica disputed this designation due to them having a camera with a similar name. Although the Olympus FTL was technically Olympus’s first full-frame SLR camera, the M-1 was the first full-frame SLR camera designed by Olympus’s legendary designer Yoshihisa Maitani,

What makes it a Great Camera?

The Olympus M-1 has a lot of great features.

For starters, the M-1 is small and lightweight, making it extremely portable. Most of the SLR cameras produced in the late1960s and early ’70s were large and bulky. Olympus’s designers were however, able to fit all features of SLR cameras into a small and compact form.

Another great feature about this camera is its beautiful, bright, and large viewfinder that has an impressive .92X magnification. The large viewfinder allows easy use of wide-angle lenses.

And that’s not all.

The M-1 features a manual exposure system that works with or without batteries.

The M-1 also features a built-in light meter that’s visible through the viewfinder. To use the light meter, switch the on and off dial located on the top left of the camera.

As if that’s not enough

The M-1 also features a pentaprism. This feature allows the camera to laterally invert the lens’s image, without altering the quality of the image. Pentaprisms result in high-quality images compared to the pentamirror.

Other Notable Features

The M-1 features a minimalist and simplistic design. The top plate is different from other SLR cameras, as it only houses a few buttons. These are:

  • The on and off switch
  • ISO dial
  • Shutter release
  • Film advance
  • Frame counter

The shutter ring is located on the face of the camera just behind the lens mount. When holding the camera, you can change the shutter speed, focus, and f/stop, without taking your eye off the viewfinder. (It’s a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes straightforward.)

As if that’s not enough

Olympus replaced the ribbons in the cloth curtain shutter with strings and equipped the camera with an air damper to absorb the shock of mirror movement.

The shutter durability was also improved, resulting in a system that could perform 100000 operations—more operations than any other shutter at the time.

Does the Camera work with an external flash?

Well yes. The M-1 comes with a hot shoe attachment. Hot shoe attachments are better since they have an electric circuit and are more convenient when compared to cold shoe attachments.

The camera also has a self-timer that allows you 12 seconds to prepare and pose. The maximum aperture of this camera is F1.8. This aperture enables you to achieve optimum brightness in an image.

Short Comings of the Camera

One shortcoming with the camera is that it doesn’t feature auto exposure. This can however, be an advantage depending on how you view it.

The lack of auto-exposure makes this camera great for learning. If you’re a beginner in analog photography, the lack of autoexposure will allow you to learn the relationship between aperture shutter speed and ISO.

Another shortcoming with the camera is the battery. The M-1 light finder uses a 1.35V mercury battery, which are impossible to find in the 21st century. However, you can have your camera modified to use 1.5V batteries, which are available.

You can also operate the camera without batteries.

Final Verdict

With only 5000 pieces produced, the M-1 is a pretty amazing camera.

It’s fun to use and also shares films with other models such as Kodak and Fuji.

It’s also light, making it a fantastic accessory to carry on your holidays. Everyone will compliment its stylish design, and you’ll love the photos you take.

The best feature of this camera is its simplicity in use.

We’d recommend the Olympus M-1 for anyone looking to start analog photography.

1970's Olympus

Olympus FTL

Olympus FTL

Sandwiched between two landmark cameras, the Olympus FTL is a pretty fascinating camera.

Introduced in July 1971, the Olympus FTL was Olympus’s first full 35mm SLR camera. It was only produced for seven months, then replaced by the OM line. Some people had gone to as far as referring to the camera as a stopgap project meant to hold the fort before the OM 1 started production.

Despite the short production period, it was still a well-designed camera with some unique features.

What makes the Olympus FTL special?

Other than being Olympus’s first full SLR camera, the FTL also used the M42 thread Zuiko lenses. It’s the only Olympus camera that had this feature. Previous cameras like the Pen F, came with interchangeable lenses that had a claw mount designed for Olympus cameras only.

The FTL came with a slightly modified M42 mount which allowed it to accept M42 lenses produced by other companies.

The FTL relied on a unique new lens locking mechanism that held the screw lens in the right position. The newly introduced locking pin allowed the accurate transfer of the aperture ring setting to the camera.  Although not a remarkable feature, this new locking pin enabled full TTL metering using Zuiko thread lenses.

Although a unique feature, the new locking mechanism also brought a downside with it.

You can only use Zuiko M42 thread lenses since other M42’s lacked the aperture nipple on the mount.

Other Features

Although a bit traditional, the FTL was built according to the high standards associated with Olympus.

The FTL has a cloth focal-plane shutter from 1 to 1/1000 sec. The TTL meter has a match needle that’s visible in the finder.

A bit heavier and clumpy than other Olympus cameras (810gm), the FTL was a landmark camera due to it being the first Olympus full SLR camera.  Achieving this fete wasn’t easy, as Olympus had to offer extra benefits, including a choice of six lenses and other accessories. 

Lenses for Olympus FTL

The FTL comes with a choice of six lenses including:

  • Standard Zuiko  50mm x 3.5
  • Wide-angle Zuiko M42 28mm x 3.5
  • Wide-angle Zuiko M42 35mm x 2.8 (A bit harder to find)
  • E Zuiko135mm x 3.5
  • E Zuiko200mm x4.0

Final Thoughts

There you have it.

All you need to know about the Olympus FTL.  Although heavy, the camera is capable of excellent results

You can also use the lenses with other cameras, including digital cameras. All you need to do is to remove the locking pin.