Best OM-system film camera?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by kadamnation, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    I've been having fun shooting film with a couple rangefinders, and I've accumulated a few good OM mount lenses, so was considering picking up an old OM film camera body. I photograph a lot of things, I don't have a specific style of photography I want to accommodate, but with film I've found I mostly shoot friends and family, with a *little* bit of street thrown in.

    My question is, which OM body should I look for? I see them turn up from time to time on local listings, and it seems the OM-1, OM-2 and OM-10 are the most prevalent. Should I just go back to the start and grab an OM-1? Is there one body reputed to be the "best," or a classic, like the M6 and M3 seem to stand out from the film Leica range?

    Any advice is welcome, thanks!
     
  2. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    If you can find an OM-2n or an OM-4ti, you'll be pretty good to go.

    I have a 2n and a 4... The difference between the 4 and 4ti/4t is the electronics. If you're not careful, the 4 will run down its battery quite quickly sitting around. The 4ti has much better battery management.

    No one model is really considered the "best" though - but most agree that the 2n seems to have the better combination features and is closest to the original Maitani design in operation and size. I use my OM-4 the most. More than my Pentax now...
     
  3. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    I like the OM-2n but all the OM-x models are pretty similar. The cheaper OM-20 (OM-G in the US) is just a slightly larger OM-2 with more plastic bits and non-interchangeable focus screen. I used one of those for a while. The OM-10 is very basic and manual exposure via the adapter is a pain. The

    OM-2sp is the one for "tough as old boots" especially if you use flash. The OM-x shoes are very fragile. I've never seen one without a crack in it in recent years.
     
  4. dpaultx

    dpaultx Mu-43 Regular

    58
    Jan 19, 2014
    North TX
    The 2n was a fine camera (mine still sees occasional usage), but the 4 and the 4t have what was probably the finest light metering system ever put into an SLR. And, though I never figured out why, fortwodriver is correct about the OM-4 being harder on batteries than the 4t.

    The OM that I always wanted, but never even saw, was the OM-3 which had the same metering system as the 4/4t, but which also had a purely mechanical shutter, like the OM-1, which meant you could keep shooting, by making your own exposure calls, even after the battery died. It never sold very well and Olympus apparently didn't make very many of them.

    dp
     
  5. Paul80

    Paul80 Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Jul 6, 2014
    Hi

    Another thumbs up for the OM2 or OM4

    Paul
     
  6. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    The OM-3 is BY FAR the best. But it is also by far the most expensive. A beater is currently for sale on ebay for $299, but clean OM-3 bodies sell for over $500 nowadays.

    Personally, if I was going retro, I'd go full manual, and get an OM-1n - they can be found for well under $50. They use the no-longer available PX625 Mercury cells for the meter, but you can use 675 Zinc Air hearing aid cells with a #9 rubber O-ring in the chamber as a spacer, and it will provide the proper voltage (The 625 Alkaline cells that replaced Mercury cells are too high in voltage). The Zinc Air hearing aid cells wear out quickly once they are unsealed and exposed to air (like 3-8 weeks, depending on the dryness of the climate) but they are cheap. In packs of 6 or more, they generally cost under a dollar apiece.

    Any of these OM film bodies will need to have the rear door light seals replaced to be light tight. It's a straightforward job.

    Get an OM-1n, not an OM-1. The cameras have the same features, but the OM-1n is more reliable.

    The OM-G and OM-10 are plastic electronic cheap crap. the 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all high quality classics in their own right, with the 3 and 4 being more modern electronically, and the OM-1 (especially OM-1n) is a basic, classic, pure manual match needle SLR.
     
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  7. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    Thank you all for the advice! Yes, pure manual shutter is an important thing for me; one of the things I like most about the film cameras I've used is that grey work even when the battery dies, do I wouldn't want to lose that.

    Most relevantly, I had an opportunity to get an OM-1 this week but it looks like I should pass for a later model. I appreciate the help, everybody!
     
  8. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank

    One thing to keep in mind: A pure mechanical shutter may not be such a big deal. While some of the OM models will run down their batteries quickly if you're not careful, they can still take photos until the batteries are virtually dead. The first thing to die on a dead battery is always the meter itself in Olympus cameras. The electronic control of the shutter goes well beyond the point where the meter refuses to operate.

    If you use something older than a 2n, you'll have to have the meter re-calibrated to whatever modern battery equivalent you can get because the old Mercury ones had a different voltage and current spec. It's getting VERY hard to find people who still know how to do this and by the time you've paid for the calibration, you've just essentially paid for one or even two OM-2n cameras - which don't have issues with modern button-cell batteries.

    Also, regarding the OM-1 and M-1... They used some questionable plastics and soft metals for some of the gearing in the very first OM... That proved to be very problematic. They swapped those out for the next version with much more robust parts.

    Anyway, enjoy! They're all great little cameras - I love mine!
     
  9. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    It's not necessary to get the OM-1 or OM-1n meter re-calibrated for use with modern batteries : Zinc-Air hearing aid batteries have basically the same voltage as mercury batteries. If you use Alkaline or Silver Oxide, you need to re-calibrate the meter, but not Zinc-Air, which are widely available as hearing aid batteries at extremely low cost. They don't make a 625 size, but the 675 size can be easily used, if you buy a 29 cent #9 rubber O-ring from the plumbing department of Home Depot and drop it into the battery chamber as a spacer.

    And the issue with the less robust gearing is why I recommended getting an OM-1n rather than an OM-1.
     
  10. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    I currently have an OM2 that the shutter only Fires on the B setting. Any ideas? Should or could I get this fixed (if i can find anyone that still does it) Or is it a paperweight?

    It was given to me with a Zuiko 28mm lens on it, and I have no other Olympus OM Film gear; so I have since purchased an OM-µ4/3 adapter to use the lens. All my other Classic Film system gear that I have an use are, Konica AR, Minolta MD and Canon FD, with a respectable amount of lens assortments for each, but I also have a 24mm & 135mm TX mount lens and an OM TX mount adapter in a box somewhere, so if i got the camera working it could be taken out for some fun.
     
  11. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    Have you checked the battery? The OM-2 will do that if the battery is dead. The only manaul shutter speed is "Bulb"... everything else requires the battery.
     
  12. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Sounds like a dead battery
     
  13. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Hmmm.. , I did try a newer battery in it, but I had lots of cleaning to do to the battery compartment ..
    SO if your saying this behavior is common due to a dead battery (I had thought that the OM2 shutter was mechanical without the battery) then I have a feeling that there may be some corrosion problems on a contact somewhere, maybe inside.
    I will take the cover off and look.. I am usually pretty good mechanically; I just needed a place to start and to know what I was looking for..

    Thank you All
     
  14. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    OM2 is an electronic shutter. OM1 and OM3 are the only OMs with shutters that are fully functional without battery power.
     
  15. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Wow..OM3's are going for ridiculous money on the auction sites.
     
  16. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    Revisiting this thread to share my experience: I bought an OM-1 with 4 included lenses (OM 50mm and 100mm; Tokina 28-85mm with close focus; and sigma 28mm). It's in great shape, and I was able to buy a modern, Mercury-free battery for $5 that was designed to match the shape and voltage of the old Mercury one, so the meter seems accurate. Haven't run a ton of film through it yet—I hate to admit it, but the first roll I put in didn't feed right, so there's a whole notebook I kept of shots that never actually happened!—but I'm really enjoying it, and it's serving me very well!

    Thank you all for the excellent advice
     
  17. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    ..... the OM-3T was the very best, it's an improved version of the older OM-3 ......
     
  18. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I personally like the OM-2SP, while it needs batteries to work it has basic spot metering etc, however the best part is they're really cheap so it doesn't matter if you drop one in a lake.

    tldr: don't buy something you will be afraid to actually use due to how much it cost, but something you're happy to use.


    Edit: I just thought I would chime in on the "best", I think it's an OM-1 with the later 2-13 focusing screen. The metering will be out by a few stops however it's going to be one of the brightest viewfinders you will ever have the pleasure of using.
     
  19. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    Lately it's been a toss-up for me between the OM-2N and the OM-4. The 2N is a lot smoother in operation. The OM-4 is clack'ety. Thankfully, my OM-4 doesn't suffer from random jams. Apparently, the previous owner had that issue corrected but it didn't include swapping in the new, low-battery-draw meter circuit. Anyway, they're both fine cameras and every time I use them I shake my head and wonder why I didn't go with Olympus much earlier ...
     
  20. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    The fix was just a change to synthetic lube by memory (the original wasn't, it traveled really well when it got warm and would gum stuff up), as for the metering circuit it was only included in the Ti versions, you basically have to replace the entire camera as it's one huge flexible board by memory.

    I have a brand new in box OM-4Ti, never had a roll of film through it... with a film wind jam from sitting in a box for it's entire life. Gotta love that :smile: