1980's Leica

Leica R6

Leica R6

The Leica R6 was an entirely mechanical manual exposure SLR. Produced during the age of electronic camera dominance, the R6 was a pretty unique camera.

The year is 1988. Camera manufacturers are working hard to outdo each other.

Nikon has just introduced the first digital camera in the world. Other camera manufacturers are working on improving their electronic cameras.

Leica decides to take a different approach.

Rather than adding extra electronic features in their new flagship, Leitz reduced the number of electronics to a bare minimum.

Here are some of the features that made it so unique.

Features of the Camera

The most prominent feature of the R6 was the return to the Leica manual minimalistic style of building cameras.

Electronics were reduced to a minimum.

The R6 also came with a mechanically timed vertical travel shutter. But this shift to a mechanical shutter came at a price.

With the R6, you could only achieve a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. However, a later version of the R6, the R6.2, came with an improved shutter speed OF 1/2000 sec.

The introduction of these mechanical features meant that the camera could function without batteries. No more worrying about batteries when on long shoots.

If you’re someone who loves extreme outdoor photography, you’re bound to love the R6.

Another feature that made the R6 such a great camera, was its big bright and uncluttered viewfinder.

At a time when most cameras had a cluttered viewfinder, thanks to numerous controls, the R6 finder didn’t have much to display. With the R6, you can focus fully on your composition without distracting words and LED lights on the viewfinder.

And that’s not all!

Despite having a non-changeable viewfinder, the R6 came with a choice of five interchangeable viewscreens. These are:

  • The standard viewscreen that had a course-central micro prism area with a central split-image focusing aid.
  • The Plain ground glass screen for long focal length cameras and extreme close-ups
  • Micro prism screen
  • The Full-field ground glass screen for architecture photography.
  • The clear glass focusing screen for astrophotography and other scientific photography.

Despite lacking fancy electronics, the R6 is a pretty versatile camera.

Another feature that made the R6 a remarkable camera was the ability to lock up the mirror—a feature that wasn’t there in the R5.

Despite having a manual exposure system, you can reduce vibration-induced motion blur, thanks to the mirror lock-up system.

Were there any electronic parts in the R6?


Both the centre-weighted and spot metering couldn’t work without batteries.

The R6 also came with an electronic self-timer.

Design and Physical Build

Like it’s predecessors, the R4 and R5, the R6’s craftmanship screamed Leitz and Minolta.

The camera was exquisitely designed and features a simplistic minimalistic look.

Thanks to the well-designed controls, the top plate isn’t congested.

When holding the camera, every knob, dial, or lever feels naturally in place and are just the right size.

And that’s not all!

The camera also feels quite sturdy and solid. Coupled with the fact that it’s fully mechanical, the R6 can function in any environment.

Neither heat nor cold can stop the R6.

Versions of the R6   

In 1992, Leitz released the Leica R6.2.

The R6.2 came with an improved maximum shutter speed as well as a magnified exposure counter.

Both the R6 and R6.2 came in chrome and black finishes.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Manufacturing a mechanical camera when everyone was producing electronic camera was expensive.

Leitz transferred this cost to the consumer.

Thanks to this, the R6 was out of reach to many photographers. Only wealthy Leica enthusiasts bought the camera.

The R6 also didn’t come with an on/off switch. The lack of this feature meant that the shutter could be triggered accidentally.

Final Thoughts

Few companies are willing to challenge the status quo.

To stick to their true values despite mounting pressure to change.

Leitz did this with the R6.

Rather than succumbing to change, Leitz stuck to their values and delivered a well built, mechanical SLR capable of taking excellent shots.

If you’re not one to bow to pressure, the Leica R6 is the perfect camera to represent your rebellious personality.

1980's Leica

Leica R4

Leica R4

The Leica R4 was Leica’s second SLR camera from the collaboration between Leitz and Minolta.

First introduced in 1980, the R4 went on to become the most successful R system camera.

And for a good reason!

It was smaller, lighter, and came with added features. Features that gave the camera a competitive advantage against its other cameras at the time.

But what are these features?

Keep reading to learn more.

Features of the Camera

One of the features that made the R4 such as a success was the introduction of multi-mode operation.

The R4 came with four operating modes. These were:

  • Manual mode (M)-Could only work with spot metering.
  • Aperture Priority mode (A)-Could work with both spot and center-weighted metering.
  • Shutter-Priority (T)-works with center weighted metering:
  • Program mode (P)

Previous Leica SLRs didn’t come with program mode. The introduction of the program mode in the R4 brought it to par with other SLRs at the time.

The second reason why the R4 became so successful was the broad array of lenses compatible with this camera.

And not just any lenses!

Thanks to the R-bayonet mount, the R4 gives you access to all R-system lenses, from the 15mm ultra-wide lens to the 800mm lens.

Another reason why the R4 became so popular was the improved metering system.

The R4 came with both spot and center weighted metering. Although these features were present in the Leica R3, the R4 metering system came with a new mechanism that made the meter more sensitive.

In the R4, light isn’t reflected through a small secondary mirror. The R4 uses a large slightly offset Fresnel reflector with a semi-transparent surface. Thanks to this system, the R4 can take photos even during a bright day.

The R4 also came equipped with an electronically timed vertical-travel metal shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec.

And here’s the best part!

Despite being an electronic camera, it’s still possible to take photos with the R4 without batteries thanks to the mechanical shutter that can achieve a speed of 1/100sec.

There’s more!

Like other cameras at the time, the R4 came with a built-in position for the use of a motorized film travel.

The Viewfinder

The R4 came with a big bright viewfinder that could achieve a magnification of .9X.

This viewfinder came with an eye-level non-interchangeable prism. However, the viewscreens were interchangeable. With this camera, you had the choice of five viewscreens. These were:

  • The standard viewscreen with central split-image focusing aid
  • Plain matte screen
  • A matte screen with grid lines
  • A clear screen with no split-image.
  • A screen with crosshairs.

The Leica R4 viewfinder is however a bit cluttered when compared to that of its predecessors. When looking through the viewfinder, you’ll see the:

  • Metering mode
  • Shutter speed
  • Memory hold
  • Aperture
  • Flash ready
  • Manual override
  • Exposure

Design and Physical Description

One of the most noticeable features of the F4 was the smaller body.

Leitz redesigned the casing, hoods, front plate, and controls to give the R4  a more compact body. This compact body became so well received that it was continued in the Leica R5, R6, and R7.

At first sight, it’s possible to confuse the R4 to the Minolta XD-7.

One common feature between these two cameras is the position of the thumb-powered film advance. With this film advance, you don’t have to move your eye from the viewfinder to advance the film.

Different Versions

Leitz manufactured several versions of the R4.

One such version is the Leica R4s MOT. These were the first version of the R4 and was in production until 1981. This labelling was mainly to indicate that the R4 was motor ready.

In 1983, Leitz introduced a simpler and cheaper version of the R4. This version didn’t have the program and shutter priority mode.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Despite all the improvements, the R4 came with some of the shortcomings of the R3.

For starters, it doesn’t allow TTL flash metering. It also doesn’t have a mirror-lock up option.

Some of the early bodies of the R4 also had faulty electronics. However, this issue was addressed with a later version. Before buying, make sure you confirm your camera has working electronics. 

Final Thoughts

Do you see why the R4 was such a commercial success?

Not only was it visually attractive, but it also improved drastically on what previous Leica SLRs were unable to do.

So, if you’re looking for a hardy camera, and a cheaper option to own a vintage Leica, you’re sure to love the R4.

1980's Leica

Leica M6

Leica M6

The Leica M6 is an interchangeable lens rangefinder camera. First introduced in 1984, the M6 was Leica’s most advanced mechanical rangefinder.

Like previous cameras in the M series, the M6 was a superb camera that came with impeccable features—some of which had never been seen in previous M-bodies.

Unlike its predecessor, the Leica M5, the M6 was widely accepted and resulted in it being in production for close to 18 years. 

Here’s a low-down of some of the features that make the M6 such an excellent camera.

Features of the Leica M6

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its metering system.

Although the M5 was the first Leica rangefinder to feature a metering system, the M6 came with a more accurate and reliable light meter.  With this center-weighted metering system, you can expect to get the best exposure every time you shoot. 

The M6 was also the first Leica rangefinder to come with a built-in LED display for the metering system. 

Another unique feature of the M6 was the big bright viewfinder. Like its predecessors, the M6 finder came with bright frame lines for different lenses.

But the M6 was a bit different. Rather than having individual framelines, it came with combined framelines for different lenses. These were:

  • 28mm and 90 mm lenses
  • 35mm and 135mm lenses
  • 50mm and 75mm lenses

With the M6, you had the choice of six optimized lenses—more than any other M rangefinder before it.

As if that’s not enough!

The M6 also came with a choice of three different viewfinders. With the M6, you had the choice of the:

  • 0.72X finder: This was the standard finder found in most M6.
  • 0.85X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 28mm lens. However, the 0.85X finder is perfect for you if you use long lenses.
  • 0.58X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 135 mm lens. However, this finder is perfect for wide-angle lenses.

Another great feature of the M6 is its shutter. Although not the fastest shutter—has a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec, the M6 shutter was quiet and fully mechanical.

If you’re a street shooter, the quiet shutter is a huge advantage since most of your subjects won’t even notice you photographing them—unless they are less than 1 meter away from you.

Another feature that made the M6 such a great camera was the fact that it was the last Leica mechanical camera. After the M6, Leica released the M7, which was a fully electronic camera. The only electronic parts of the M6 was the metering system.

If you’re a loyal fan of mechanical cameras, you’ll love the M6.

Design and Physical Build

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its simplistic design.

The M6 doesn’t come with numerous controls and buttons. This minimalistic and simplistic design allows you to focus on the photo entirely.

Another notable feature is the film advance crank. The plastic tipped film advance is smooth and easy to move.

The M6 is also relatively small and light. At only 560 g, the M6 fits comfortably on the palm. Without considering its depth, this camera is typically the size of an iPhone X.

Leica M6 TTL

The classic M6 was in production between 1984-1996. Between 1996 and 2002, Leica introduced the M6 TTL, a more advanced version of the M6.

The M6 TTL came with a bigger shutter speed dial, TTL flash, and a brighter viewfinder. Another difference between the M6 and the M6-TTL was the inclusion of an “OK” indication in the light meter LED—The classic M6 only displayed two  “> <” LED arrows.

Although minor additions, these changes made the M6-TTL more attractive to serious photographers.

Shortcomings of the camera

One of the greatest shortcomings of the M6 was the use of a tiny shutter speed dial, which made it hard to change shutter speeds when holding the camera to your eye.

And that’s not all

This dial also moved in the opposite direction to the meter arrows.

However, the introduction of a larger shutter speed dial in the M6-TTL solved this problem.

Final Thoughts

It’s no doubt.

The Leica M6 was a remarkable camera. Not only could it accommodate more lenses, but the M6 was also and is still a fun camera to shoot with.

It’s also one of the “cheapest” Leica bodies you’ll ever find.

If you’re on a budget and want to on an M camera, the M6 is the perfect camera for you.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-30

First introduced in 1983, the Olympus OM-30 (also known as the OM-F in the US) was Olympus’s third camera in the OM double-digit series and their first step towards an autofocus SLR. It is now very hard to find.

However, unlike other double digits OMs, the OM-30 wasn’t as popular with buyers, which has made it rare in the 21st Century.

Here’s all you need to know about the OM-30

The Cameras Features

One feature that makes the OM-30 stand out over other double digits OMs is that it was the first autofocus Olympus camera.

The OM-30 came with a Zuiko 35–70mm AF zoom autofocus lens. This lens came with a built-in motor that allowed continuous autofocus. 

The OM-30 also featured an F2/F4 switch for the focus system.

And that’s not all

Thanks to the innovative In-Focus Trigger cord socket, this camera can take images automatically as soon as they come into focus.

With this feature, a photographer could set up a street shot while waiting for the object to come into focus.

Like the OM-20, the OM-30 also featured a near-perfect metering system, which made it easier for a photographer to set exposure more accurately.

What about the viewfinder?

Like other OM cameras, the OM-30 came with a large and bright viewfinder that had a finder view-field of 93% of the actual picture field. When looking through the viewfinder, you could see a 12-bar LED indicator that displayed the shutter speed and whether an image was in focus or out of focus. 

Another great feature about the OM-30 was the fact that it featured both a manual and automatic mode.

If you prefer having full control of your shutter speed and aperture, the OM-30 is the camera for you. While in manual mode, you could set your shutter speed from 2 sec to 1/1000 sec.

Physical Description

Like other cameras in the OM double-digit series, the OM-30 had a plastic body. It came in either black or chrome.

The buttons and controls were easily laid out and could be reached even as one was holding the camera to their eye.

On the top plate, you have

  • The film rewind crank, and mode selector switch on the left side. The same switch can be used to check the battery level. 
  • An X-Contact hot shoe in the middle
  • An exposure concentration and ASA dial on the right.
  • Film advance lever on the right
  • And a 12-second self-timer lever.

Like other OM cameras, the shutter speed dial is located at the base of the lens mount, with the aperture ring being situated at the front of the lens. The electronic focus ring is located next to the aperture ring.

Shortcomings of the Camera

The OM-30 failed to attract many buyers due to several shortcomings.

For starters, being the first Olympus camera to feature an autofocus system meant the system would not be perfect. The OM-30 autofocus system was slow and inaccurate.

Another shortcoming with the OM-30 is the fact that the light seals in the camera disintegrate with time. When buying the camera, make sure to check the light seals.

If disintegrated or sticky, replace them as they aren’t costly.

Although not entirely a shortcoming, this camera requires five 1.5v SR 44 batteries to function.  

Final Thoughts

Despite its limited success, the Olympus OM-30 is an incredible camera.

It’s lightweight, has most of the features found in previous OM, and also features an autofocus system.

And if that’s not enough.

It’s pretty rare, which makes it a valuable addition to your collection of vintage classic cameras.

1980's Olympus

Olympus XA-1

Olympus XA-1

The Olympus XA-1 is a lightweight, affordable, and uncomplicated 35mm camera. First introduced in 1982, the XA-1 is the least acknowledged camera in the XA series.

Designed by Olympus’s legendary designer Yoshihisu Maitani, the Olympus XA series was a range of clamshell 35 mm rangefinders sold in the early 1980s. These cameras were small, compact, and paved the way for affordable, high-quality pocket cameras.

However, the XA-1 was different from other cameras in the series. It was a simple mechanical camera that took users to the past by incorporating technology from the 1960s. 

Despite the use of “vintage camera technology,” the XA-1 is a delight to use. Here’s why

The Cameras Features

One of the most notable features of the XA-1 is the compact clamshell design.

The cameras in the XA series were designed to be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket or a lady’s purse. The XA-1 was the smallest of the XA cameras, which makes this camera ideal for everyday use. You can easily slide the camera in and out of your pocket.

And that’s not all…

The curvy clamshell design also makes it comfortable to hold on your palm.

Using the camera is also straightforward.

It doesn’t have a power button. To use the camera, slide the clamshell open to uncover the lens and activate the selenium metering (technology from the 1960s).

With this camera, you can shoot from the hip, when lying on the ground or overhead.

Another notable feature of the XA-1 is the mechanical shutter. Although most would frown over the traditional sticky out shutter, I find this one of the best features of this camera.

For starters, the shutter doesn’t get stuck.

Secondly, the mechanical shutter makes the XA-1 the only camera in the XA series that can do an exposure lock. If you’re a more creative shooter, this is the XA for you.

To achieve exposure lock, point the camera to a bright light then half-press the shutter. Then move the camera to the object you’d like to capture and press the shutter release to the end.

What about optical quality?

The XA-1 is fitted with a D-Zuiko 35mm f/4 fixed lens that’s located behind the capsule cover. Unlike other clamshell cameras, the XA-1 lens doesn’t extend when the capsule is open. Olympus designed this lens to be shorter than it’s focal length.

As if that’s not enough…

The aperture priority exposure is accurate. The built-in selenium meter, which comes with a red pop up flag mechanism helps to prevent underexposure of photographs. 

Other Features

Like other cameras in the series, the XA-1 came with an external flash unit, the Olympus A9M, which was sold together with the camera. You can also use other flash units such as A11 and A16.

The camera also featured a shutter speed of 1/30 sec to 1/250 sec and an ASA of 100 or 400.

The XA-1 also lacks the signature red membrane touch shutter, which is common in other XA cameras.

Shortcomings of the Camera

There’s a reason why this is the least acknowledged camera in the XA series. One of those reasons is its simplicity.

For starters, the camera has a limited shutter speed range.

The camera also lacks a self-timer and backlight lever.

You also don’t get the option to override the exposure manually.

Final Thoughts

Despite what people may say, the Olympus XA-1 is a decent camera.

It’s simple to use, can be carried anywhere; it’s aesthetic to look at, and is affordable. It also brings back a feel of the classic vintage camera to a 1980’s rangefinder (new isn’t always better).

A worthy addition to your camera collection.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-101

Olympus OM-101

The Olympus OM-101 (OM-88 in the US) was a consumer-grade 35mm SLR that was released in 1988.

Released two years after the flopped Olympus OM-707, The OM-101 was built for the average consumer who wanted better images without the long learning curve associated with classic SLR cameras.

Like other Olympus cameras, the OM-101 came with some unique features, which have made it a favorite among many advanced amateur photographers.

Features of the Camera

One unique feature of the OM-101 was the “Power Focus” feature.

Although it seemed like a downgrade, the OM-101 lacked the Autofocus feature that was in the OM-707. Instead, it had a power focus feature which used a motorized focusing system that was controlled by a thumbwheel at the back of the camera. This ring replaced the focusing ring and aperture ring.

Unlike the OM-707, where you didn’t have any control over the focus, the power focus ring gives this control back to you

If you didn’t like the automatic focus feature in the OM-707, then you’ll love the OM-101.

And that’s not all:

The OM-101 was the perfect camera for any armature photographers.

It doesn’t have an automatic mode but features a manual and program mode. In the default program mode, the camera does all the heavy lifting for you. It chooses the right combination of aperture and shutter speed.

Your only job is to focus and pick the perfect shot.

And it doesn’t end there…

Olympus also released an adapter that allowed you full control of the camera. With the manual adapter, you had full control over the shutter speed and aperture.

Talk about a camera made for both novice and advanced users. 

The OM-101 also came with two Zuiko lenses designed specifically for it. These are the 35-70mm/ F3.5-4.5 PF and 50mm/F2 PF. It could also use the eight lenses from the OM-707.

As if that’s not enough.

The OM-101 uses 4 AAA batteries, which are easy to find.

Other Features

  • 12-seconds self-timer
  • DX coding film speeds from 25-3200. However, it automatically sets to ISO 100 when the film has no DX coding.
  • Shutter speed – 1/2000s
  • It features automatic film loading, advance, and rewinding.
  • X-sync port for attaching a flash mechanism. You could use the T series flash on both modes, and the F280 flash unit when in manual mode.
  • It also has a hot shoe mount at the top of the camera.
  • It featured center-weighted metering

Shortcomings of the Camera

If you’re a more advanced film photographer, using the OM-101 comes with several disadvantages.

For starters, there’s no way of adjusting the ASA setting—You can’t use a B/W or expired film with this camera.

When using program mode, you also have no way of knowing what shutter speed your using. Your only point of reference is the blinking LED shake warning.

It’s also quite heavy, weighing around 600 grams.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a beginner and are looking for a classic SLR film camera, the OM-101 is a good choice.

The Power Focus and program mode do all the hard work for you, and you still end up with high-quality photographs. As you get the hang of it and decide to practice manual film photography, you can always use the manual adapter.

And that’s not all

The camera is relatively cheap, making it the perfect camera for a beginner or more advanced user.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-707

Olympus OM-707

The Olympus OM-707, also known as the OM-77 in some markets was the first and last 35 mm SLR automatic focus (AF) Olympus camera.

Released between 1986 and 1991, the OM 77 wasn’t as successful as its predecessors despite it being among the first AF cameras in the market—the only other AF cameras in the market were the Nikon F501 and the Minolta Dynax 7000

However, despite the low popularity, the OM-707 had some unique features that make it a worthy addition to your classic SLR collection.

Features of the Camera

The OM-707 came with several innovative features.

For starters, it was the first camera to feature a flash system with flash synch to all shutter speeds. At the time of production, this unique F280 Full-Synchro Electronic Flash had the highest syncing speed at 1/2000s.

Another unique feature of the Olympus OM-707 was the two grips that let you choose how to hold the camera. One was the Power Flash Grip 300, which had a small pop-up flash and a shutter release button. The other grip was the Power Grip 100 which had a shutter release button but didn’t have the flash.

The OM-707 was also one of the first cameras to introduce a lens without focus control but used an on-body power focus control. The knob for the Power Focus was on the right side where you could adjust the focus. You could also lock the Automatic Exposure through a button labelled AE on the camera.

What about the lens?

Like other OM cameras, the OM-77 lenses are quite sharp. Image quality is excellent.

The OM-707 also came with eight unique Autofocus lenses—more than any other AF 35 mm SLR camera at the time.

And that’s not all

This camera also featured the OM bayonet mount which could mount lenses from other OM cameras. So, if you have other OMs in your collection, you’ll have an endless supply of lenses to use with your OM707.

However, you should know that the OM-707 was an autofocus camera. When using legacy lenses, you’re only limited to changing only the aperture.

Other Features

This camera featured an automatic film winding system that moved at 1.5 fps. It also used the centre-weighted metering technique.

At the top of the camera, there as an LCD that showed the film speed, battery level, the Mode selected (AF or PF), and self-timer indicator.

The self-timer had a 12-second delay. Since you can’t set the ISO manually, it features the DX code reading capability that ranges from 25-3200

With all these features, why didn’t the OM-707 take off?

The Negatives

For starters, the power grips were faulty and got easily destroyed. After Olympus ceased manufacturing of this camera, it becomes hard to find a functional power grip in the market today.

This camera also lacked some crucial features that were in its predecessors. These include the manual focus ring, the aperture settings ring, the ISO dial, and spot-metering. The viewfinder also didn’t have the shutter speed and aperture suggestion information.

It was also quite heavy when compared to the OM- single-digit and double-digit series.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be honest.

The OM-707 wasn’t the best camera in the OM series.

It was heavy and lacked a manual focus ring, aperture settings ring, shutter speed dial, and any other aspects for professional photographers

Its many shortcomings made it less popular among many professional photographers.

However, its lack of popularity is what makes it such a valuable collector’s item. It’s rare and is the only Olympus SLR with Autofocus. Although you may not use it as your everyday camera, the Olympus OM-707 is still a worthy addition to your collection of vintage classic cameras.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-40

Olympus OM-40

The Olympus OM-40, also known as OM-PC in the USA, was the last and best camera in the OM double-digit series.

The Olympus OM-10 was the first in the series. It didn’t have a manual option, but you could attach a manual adapter to use manual mode. The OM-20 came with an inbuilt shutter-speed, larger controls, and a handgrip. The OM-30 came with all the features of its predecessors and a new auto-focus mechanism.

How was the OM-40 different?

Features of the Olympus OM-40

The OM-40 comes with several standout features.

For starters, this camera had three modes—manual, auto, and program mode.

The auto mode, also known as aperture priority is easy to use. All you need to do is select the aperture, and the camera chooses the best shutter speed to achieve optimum exposure. The program mode, which is the easiest to use selects both the aperture and the shutter speed for you. The manual mode gives you back all the control.

Another standout feature in the OM-PC was the two metering options.

The OM-40 had the accurate off the film (OTF) metering which was present in other OM double-digit cameras.

Besides OTF, the OM-40 also came with a unique metering capability, the ESP (Electro-Selective Pattern). This is an optional feature that’s activated through a button on the left side of the lens mount. ESP metering measures the brightness of the center of the frame, and the edges, to calculate the best exposure.

With ESP metering, you don’t have to worry about how a photo will turn out. They’ll always be perfect.

As if that’s not enough.

The OM-PC also gave you the choice of setting ISO manually or using DX coding to preset film speed.

What about the viewfinder?

Like other cameras in the OM series, the viewfinder is large and bright. The viewfinder uses LEDs to display shutter speeds during aperture priority and program mode. It also suggests the shutter speed you can use when in manual mode, but you will have to adjust it yourself.

Design and Physical Description

The OM-40 featured a different body from that used by other double-digit OMs.

The body had a noticeable rubber padding—similar to what was in the OM-20 but softer.

The OM-40 controls layout was similar to that of the OM-2. The mode switch was located on the left-hand side. The exposure compensation dial, film advance, and shutter release are on the right-hand side.

Similar to other OM cameras, the rings for adjusting the shutter, aperture, and focusing settings are on the front of the camera.

Other features

  • Twelve seconds self-timer
  • 1 to 1000 sec shutter speed.
  • It features hot shoe mount for the flash and a PC sync port.
  • Ports for connecting the Mirror Drive 1 and Mirror Drive 2
  • The DX coding ISO ranges from 25 to 3200, while the manual setting ranges from +2 to -2.
  • A film indicator window at the back to show whether there is a film or not.

Shortcomings of the Olympus OM-40/OM-PC

One of the most significant defects of the OM-40 is the lack of an on/off switch. Due to this design flaw, the camera depletes batteries quickly.

The EPS is also limited to the sense that the object has to be at the center. If the object appears on the edges, it may not give the desired results.

Final Thoughts

The Olympus OM-40/OM-PC offered the same compact, sturdy design of its predecessors with some improvements in features and functionality.

Despite targeting beginner photographers, some of its advanced features have always gained the interest of professional photographers too. These additional features make it worth adding to your collection of classic SLRs.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-20

Olympus OM-20

Introduced in 1983, the Olympus OM-20 (OM-G) was the second camera in Olympus’ double-digit OM series. Built as a consumer version of the OM-2, the OM-20 had the same features as the OM-2, but a less strong build with some compromises in design.

How awesome would it be if you had?

  • A vintage camera that you could carry around and use without worrying about damaging it.
  • A camera with a body that’s cheap and easy to find, and
  • One that supports both manual and automatic modes.

With the Olympus OM-20, it’s possible to have a camera that does all the above and more.

However, despite the lack of a metal chassis, fixtures and fittings of the OM-2, the OM-20 is an excellent camera to use with some incredible features.

Features of the Camera

One feature that made the OM-G such an incredible camera was the near-perfect metering system.

The OM-20 came with a sensor that measured the light reflected off the film. Opposed to the previous methods that measured light entering the exposure chamber, the OM-20’s approach was more accurate.

This feature makes it easy for a photographer to set exposure more precisely.

And that’s not all

The OM-20 also features an aperture priority system when set in automatic mode, which is excellent for beginners.

With this system, the camera becomes relatively easier to use. All you have to do is set the aperture value, and the camera sets the perfect shutter speed.

With this feature, you can focus more on the depth of field.

As if that’s not enough…

The OM-20 also supports a manual mode.

So, if you’re one of those people who prefer shutter priority shooting, the OM-20 has got you covered. Unlike the OM-10 which required you to plug a manual adapter to use shutter priority, the OM-20 comes with an inbuilt manual mode.

With this manual mode, you can comfortably capture objects in motion—though it’s a little tricky and requires experience.

And there’s more…

The OM-20 was also built always to be ready to take a picture.

Even when switched off, you can pick up the camera and take a picture, thanks to the automatic exposure mode.

Talk about convenient

Physical Description

Despite the plastic body, the OM-20 feels nice and sturdy.

The camera controls are well laid out. You have everything on your fingertips.

When holding the camera to your eye, you can:

  • Adjust the aperture value by moving the ring located at the front of the lens.
  • You can also adjust focus using the ring located behind the aperture ring.
  • If using manual mode, you can adjust the shutter speed by moving the ring located at the base of the lens mount.

The buttons at the top of the camera are also conveniently placed and easy to use.

To change ISO /ASA, all you need to do is rotate the knob located at the top right plate. The same knob can be used to adjust exposure compensation.

The film advance lever is on the far right of the camera. It’s not as strong as in the previous cameras, but it’s very stable and easy to use. There’s a film rewind button on the front of the camera.

To switch between automatic and manual mode, use the knob located on the top left plate of the camera. The same switch can be used to check the battery level.

All features of the camera have been designed ergonomically to make the camera easy to handle—even for beginners.

Unlike the viewfinder needle in its predecessors, this camera uses LED displays to show the shutter speed and exposure compensation.

It also came with provisions for attaching a steady-grip when working with the camera. The OM-20 also features a hot-shoe mount and a 12 seconds self-timer.

Shortcomings of the Camera

To make the OM double-digit cameras more affordable, Olympus made these cameras from less durable raw materials, and they reduced the shutter-speeds. While the single-digit OM’s could achieve a shutter speed of 1/2000s, the OM-20 had a 1/1000 seconds shutter speed.

Another shortcoming is the loud shutter noise that the OM-20 produces.

Final Thoughts

Despite being cheaply made, and having a slower shutter speed, the OM-20 is still an excellent camera.

You can always find one on the internet. Its parts are also easy to find.

It also uses the same accessories as other OM cameras. So, you don’t have to worry about using anything other than the incredible Zuiko lenses.

If it’s your first SLR, you can rest assured that you’ve made the right choice by purchasing the Olympus OM-20.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-4

Olympus OM-4

The Olympus OM-4 is the perfect blend between an electronic and classic camera. Like the Nikon F, the OM-4 was a gamechanger for Olympus.

Mass-produced from 1983 to 1987, the OM-4 was the last camera in the OM series. It used a similar body to the OM-1 and OM-2 but featured a few improvements.

So, what makes this camera unique?

Camera Features

One of Olympus OM-4’s most distinct features is the radical shift in how the camera metered.

The OM-4 featured a fantastic spot metering system that was intuitive and easy to use. With the switch of a button, you can easily switch between the default multi-spot metering system and spot metering system.

And that’s not all

The OM-4 also features a system for exposure compensation.  Coupled with the spot metering feature, you’ll surely enjoy shooting heavily backlit subjects.

As if that’s not enough

The OM-4 comes with a spectacular viewfinder.

With just the right combination of modern technology and a design that still looks retro, the OM-4 viewfinder is one of its most significant features.

Similar to previous OM versions, the viewfinder is large and bright. However, rather than a needle metering system, the OM-4 features an LCD at the bottom of the viewfinder.  The LCD displays a 36-segment bar graph that indicates the best shooting shutter speed for different scenes.

Speaking of shutter speed…

The OM-4 features faster shutter speeds of 1/2000.

And the best part…

Despite having an electronically controlled shutter, the OM-4 can still be operated using a dead battery. All you’ll have to do is set it to both “B” and 1/60th speed modes.

The ability to use the camera with dead batteries means you can easily test it if you come across it in a thrift shop or garage sale but don’t have batteries around.

What about the accessories?

Like it’s predecessors, the Olympus OM-4 uses the incredible Zuiko lenses—you can interchangeably use the accessories from other Olympus cameras in your collection.  

Physical Appearance and Design Features

Like any other single-digit OM camera, the Olympus OM-4 was well built.

If you’ve handled the OM-1 or OM-2, the OM-4 is not very different. Other than a few added buttons, the OM-4 features the same minimalist design as it’s predecessors.

At first glance, you’d dismiss the OM-4 as another 80’s electronics—cheap and plasticky. However, the OM-4 has very few plastic parts. Even the shutter release button is solid metal.

On top of the camera you have:

  • The ISO adjustment and exposure compensation dial at the left
  • The manual, auto and battery check switch
  • A fixed hot shoe
  • Highlight and shadow buttons
  • Shutter release
  • Film advance

The face features an aperture dial, the focusing ring, and a shutter speed dial. Having these three features on the same plane means that you can easily adjust these settings without taking your eye off the viewfinder.

Below the hot shoe mount, there is the diopter adjustment that moves from +2 to -2. This adjustment can come in handy if you wear glasses.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Early versions of the OM-4 were blasted for a design flaw that resulted in the battery draining extremely fast. These early versions used the battery even when the camera was set in manual mode.

To save the battery, you have to remove them when not using the camera or you could set the shutter speed to ‘B’.

Olympus however, released the Olympus OM-4T and Olympus OM-4Ti which fixed the battery drain issue.

Final Thoughts

Other than the battery drain issue, the Olympus OM-4 is a pretty amazing camera.

It combined the compact design of the OM-1 and OM-2, and the advanced features of the OM-2n and the OM-3 to give the best experience you’ll ever get with a 35mm SLR camera. The OM-4 is a worthwhile addition to any photographer.