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.

3 replies on “Olympus OM-40”

Good info here…I know this is an old thread but here goes…

In PROGRAM mode how does the OM40 stop down the aperture off the lens ? There do not seem to be electrical contacts between the camera body and the lens (I’m using a Zuiko 50mm 1.8 Auto-S).



unfortunately I’m not sure. Hopefully someone will come along, read this comment and give you a sensible response.

Thanks for reading.

In Program mode, you are supposed to simply set the aperture on the lens to the smallest aperture. This allows the camera to select whatever aperture it wants. You can actually set any aperture you want, and that will be the minimum aperture that the Program mode will use. So let’s say you have a lens that can be set between f/2 and f/16, you can set it to f/16 and the camera will choose any aperture. However, if you set the lens to f/8, the camera will only choose an aperture between f/2 and f/8.

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