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 mechanically driven shutter speeds which work without needing 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, although it needs batteries to work.

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.

2 replies on “Olympus M-1”

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

No: it has MECHANICALLY DRIVEN SHUTTER SPEEDS which work without needing batteries. If the camera is used without its light-meter batteries, then exposure is simply by guesswork, or by using an external light-meter.

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