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08-26-2018, 12:44 AM   #1
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Anyone here use an Olympus OM-1 or OM-4?

I've always been tempted by the OM cameras, I'm not sure why but they just appeal to me. I have seen a nice OM-1 and OM-4 for sale but would like some opinions on them, the OM-4 is in beautiful condition but is a bit pricey, the OM-1 is in good condition and is a lot cheaper, with a 50/1.8.

Are there any annoying problems or reliability issues I should be aware of?

08-26-2018, 01:24 AM   #2
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I have a OM-1, which I bought used in 1985. The only major issue I've had with it was the foam insilation eroded the prism. Thats a known issue. If you look through the viewfinder, you see the damage immediately, if there's any.
I had it repaired few years ago. The same time the electrics of the light meter was changed to use the modern battery. It all costed about 80€, if I remember right. Everything works fine.
I'm still using it regularly with Zuiko 35mm 1:3.5 and 50 1:1.4 lenses.

It is easy, small, lightweight and reliable camera.
08-26-2018, 02:15 AM   #3
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I still use my OM1 which I bought in 1976. The mercury battery is no longer available however.

See http://olympus.dementix.org/Hardware/PDFs/OM1DiodeVer2_1C.pdf for instructions how to adapt the camera to silver oxide batteries and still have reliable exposure readings.
08-26-2018, 06:19 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The OM-1 was my first camera in 1979 and the OM-4Ti was my last film camera in the early 2000s. I never had any reliability problems with them despite years of heavy use and 9 months living in a tent in the rain forests of Costa Rica.

The OM-4's multi-spot metering system is amazing and I sincerely wish Pentax would copy it!

08-26-2018, 07:35 AM   #5
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Any OM you buy will probably need a CLA, you can get the OM-1 converted to SR44 at the same time...($122 and up at Zuiko.com. Garry's will do a CLA for $50 + $8 return shipping)

OM-4s carry a premium, as do OM Zuiko lenses.
08-27-2018, 09:01 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I like my OM's just fine starting with the OM1 I picked up about 10 years ago, followed by the 2, then the 4 and the OM3 being my latest acquisition about 6 years. The OM3 was listed as-is not working. When I got it, I put new batteries in and it's been working perfectly since. All of these are in perfect working condition except for the meter in the OM1.



I too wish that Pentax had incorporated spot metering.
05-07-2020, 05:48 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Sorry to revive an old thread. I ran into it just now - I use an OM-1... Lovely and gorgeous. The OM Glass is compact and awesome (I use it on EOS with a glassless adapter).

Now - the OM-1's biggest issue is the battery for the light meter - you can use it without the battery, like a K1000, but if you do not convert and buy the mercury-less equivalents (WeinZinc-Air) these will last you 1 to 2 rolls... they just die off.
05-08-2020, 06:10 AM   #8
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I didn't know OM lenses could be adapted to the EF mount.

I have continued to resist the call of Olympus, but it's always there, whispering to me.

05-08-2020, 04:06 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I didn't know OM lenses could be adapted to the EF mount.

I have continued to resist the call of Olympus, but it's always there, whispering to me.
And to compensate for the EOS tiny viewfinder to acquire critical focus, the Olympus Varimagni Finder, also works on the EOS. It also fits others like the Pentax LX, MX, K series . . .



05-09-2020, 04:14 AM   #10
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Used a pair of OM1s back in the day. They were my first professional cameras. Both equipped with motor drives, flash grips etc. Used for press work quite a bit so they took a few bumps. Later they were retired in favour of a pair of Nikon Fs. Back then the F2 was around but it was a shocker on price and I got a deal from Jessops Pro shop on a pair of Fs with a ton of bits. Loved the F's which turned out to be very tough indeed.
OM1s - were lovely and I have a fondness for them probably because they were my first pro cameras and were such a giant step up from the crappy gear I had used up to then, the VF was a revelation in its size and brightness - the view was so big it made your hair stand up. They were tough despite their small size and light weight and I liked the minimalist approach on a lot of stuff. Simple meter needle in the VF that doesn't get in your way.

Years later I missed them after they were sold and bought an OM4 Ti on a whim - it was horrible, fiddly to use, piddling little display in the VF. I swear it was designed by Duracell to keep them in battery sales as it just ate batteries. My impressions of it were poor to say the least and I grew to absolutely hate the wretched thing so it sat in a cupboard for about 5 years until I sold it - they only thing reliable with it was its ability to fail and/or give weird light readings once it got cold, or hot, or damp, or dry on any day with an 'A' in it. On every holiday or special event it let me down - usually because it ate so many batteries that even if I carried what I considered plentiful spares it managed to use them all up.
It was a large part of the reason I plumped for Nikon F301 as a carry camera - the Nikon used AAA batteries which I could get anywhere versus button cells which back then were only plentiful in a serious camera shop and very lacking if you happened to be on a Greek Island or in Africa.

Anyway roll the clock forward 30 years and here I am with yep - another pair of black OM1ns given to me FOC by a good friend. They had sat in her cupboard for many years after she bought them secondhand and were previously used for astro imaging. When they got here they were in poor overall shape having been outside on freezing Alaskan nights for long run imaging. One of them had a shutter stall problem, the other a jammed winder mechanism, both had failing meters and degraded seals and mirror bumpers.

The hazard with most OMs is that Olympus used foam around the prism and over time this decays into an acidic gunk that eats the prism (to be fair Canon did this too with the FTb). Priority job with any OM1 is get the top cover off and remove the foam and any drew its left behind. Its not too bad a job if you are careful. The mirror bumpers are a complete horror of a job to replace and are super fiddly. Luckily both of these were caught before the foam had eaten their prisms.

Both of mine had all of their seals replaced using Jon Goodmans seals, the shutter stall was fixed by working the mechanism a fair few times and the one with a jammed release was one of the gearwheels in the base had got out of alignment. Both of them were then packed off to my favourite tech to get their meters looked at and their calibration work done.

They cost £50 each to have their meters fixed (no idea what was wrong) and have them recalibrated and shutters adjusted and the tech found the reason for one of them having jams in its mechanism was a spring had gotten too weak - replaced as part of the overall job and hola two fully working OM1ns. They are christened 'Olympia' and 'Ophelia' and have a wonderful use patina on them that shows they are well used and loved by their various owners.

How do I rate them ? - Still beautiful to work with and very fast to get shots with. I find the simplicity helps - of late I have been using a Minolta XD7 and a Minolta X700. The X700 is a cow as I keep forgetting to flip the 'on' switch on, compose the shot, press the shutter and.........nothing.....DOH! switch it on dopey. You see the X700 is fully electronic so nothing will happen with dead batteries or the power switch off. The XD7 is very fine, like an OM1 on steroids with its multiple mode shooting options BUT I find after the initial gloss has worn off (wow shoot in AP, SP, Program or Manual) like almost any automatic assistance it end up getting in the way - instead of helping it just gives you choices and choice is often a curse.

Yesterday I was out walking a trail and a picture opportunity presented itself but I had to be quick. I could bring the OM to my eye, glance at the meter, click the aperture ring down two stops and fire a shot off in a moment. I KNOW with the X700 I would have missed it due to the camera needing to be on to get a shot and the XD would have caused a dither as I tried to read the metering LEDs. With the OM a quick glance will tell you the score, nothing to switch on apart from the meter and its quite intuitive after some use to flick the meter switch as you bring the camera to your eye.

So yes I still like them after perhaps 40 years and although I have dalliances with other cameras (mostly the Nikon F but the XD7 is also very fine) if I were limited to a single camera I would keep the OM - Sorry Pentax - even the KX would get the chop.
05-09-2020, 05:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I didn't know OM lenses could be adapted to the EF mount.

I have continued to resist the call of Olympus, but it's always there, whispering to me.
The power of the cult of Zuiko is without bounds my son resistance is futile
06-26-2020, 06:20 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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Still have 2 OM 4TI and 2 OM4. Color slide film was my favorite and the Olympus spot meter saved many a frame from being over exposed. It is more accurate than my Pentax hand held analog spot meter. The ability to place spot readings on a scale is amazing and as close to an in camera zone system as ever produced. The Olympus spot meter has never been bettered by any other in camera meter.

If only Olympus had built a similar ff digital camera with updated OM lens mount and this metering system.

Thanks,
barondla
06-26-2020, 07:18 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Astro-Baby Quote
Years later I missed them after they were sold and bought an OM4 Ti on a whim - it was horrible, fiddly to use, piddling little display in the VF. I swear it was designed by Duracell to keep them in battery sales as it just ate batteries. My impressions of it were poor to say the least and I grew to absolutely hate the wretched thing so it sat in a cupboard for about 5 years until I sold it
Well at least you got used to the shutter speed on the lens mount . . .
You can easily test whether your OM3/4 board is updated so that it doesn't drain the battery quickly by using the battery test. If it automatically stops beeping after 30seconds you have the updated board. I understand that back then Olympus offered board replacements?

---------- Post added 06-26-20 at 09:34 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Still have 2 OM 4TI and 2 OM4. Color slide film was my favorite and the Olympus spot meter saved many a frame from being over exposed. It is more accurate than my Pentax hand held analog spot meter. The ability to place spot readings on a scale is amazing and as close to an in camera zone system as ever produced. The Olympus spot meter has never been bettered by any other in camera meter.

If only Olympus had built a similar ff digital camera with updated OM lens mount and this metering system.

Thanks,
barondla
Clearly OM series innovations affected the camera industry as many of the larger models were quickly abandoned and companies worked quickly to provide smaller form factor models. I think Pentax made the most of it with their MX and LX models designed directly from the OM1 and OM2. The MX was dimensionally smaller then the OM1 by .5mm all the way around while enlarging the viewfinder magnification but kept "traditionally" located controls. The LX imrproved on the OM2's OTF metering by keeping the metering cel in the body and eliminating the second meter cels found in the OM2's viewfinder and greatly extended it's aperture priority AE to last many hours long. The OM3/4 also did away with the viewfinder cels but as you pointed gave it the best spot metering in a manual camera. I really prefer spot metering as I learn the exposure range of the various films that I use and the OM3&4's spot metering is the best especially of any manual camera.
06-27-2020, 03:35 AM   #14
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Les....wish I had known back in the day that a board replacement was possible. It wouldnt have stopped me selling it though. I found it rather fiddly and mostly annoying. I have to say mine almost never called exposure right and I missed the sweet simplicity of the OM1. People often raise the weird placement of the shutter speed control being round the base of the lens. I never had issues with that, I found the apertture ring the roughest to deal with as it was sat so close to the front of the lens and many Zuikos never had a very positive click so it was sometimes hard to ‘feel’ what was going on (was that one stop,two stops or half a stop ?) especially if your hands were cold or you had thin gloves on.

The simplicity thing though was the big driver for me and probably why I like the Nikon F as well and generally get worse pics the more automation creeps in....I end up worrying about what the automation is up to (whats that flashing, LEDs cant decide whether to go at 125th or 250th, drop a half stop ?? glance down at aperture readout, oh too late the opportunity has gone). Its a kind of information overload, I end up looking at the guages and not composing or timing the shot.
With an OM1 its basically turn the meter on, take a quick glance at the needle deflection, looks to be a two stops adrift, click, click bang. Shot in the bag.

My other faves are the Minolta SRT and the Canon FTb for their similar very simple approach to stuff but my happy snappy these days is My Nikon F301 which has never called it wrong in Program mode and has, at least in my opnion, the nicest viewfinder of them all. Maybe not as bright as the Minolta acumatte screens or as wide as the OM but it has a clarity to it thats very hard to define but just seems ‘right’ to my eyeballs.
06-27-2020, 10:23 AM   #15
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I work on many power supplies with meters - needle and digital, and most of the operators prefer the analog for their calm demeanor as opposed to the digital display jumping between two points . . .

No doubt that if a camera does not fit your workflow - especially incompetent metering, then who can blame you for getting rid of it. For myself, there are two big cons going from OM1/2 to OM3/4. First is the much smaller viewfinder magnification and second is the rough film advance. Fortunately I have not had any technical issues with these and I really appreciate the spot metering.

I spotted my OM3 listed on KEH "as-is, not working" for a price I was willing to pay for. Got it, put new batteries in it and it still works perfectly many years later.

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