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.

One reply on “Olympus OM-20”

The OM20 does indeed have a metal chassis. The top and bottom cowlings are polycarbonate. It makes next to no difference what a cameras covers are made of.

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