1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-30

First introduced in 1983, the Olympus OM-30 (also known as the OM-F in the US) was Olympus’s third camera in the OM double-digit series and their first step towards an autofocus SLR. It is now very hard to find.

However, unlike other double digits OMs, the OM-30 wasn’t as popular with buyers, which has made it rare in the 21st Century.

Here’s all you need to know about the OM-30

The Cameras Features

One feature that makes the OM-30 stand out over other double digits OMs is that it was the first autofocus Olympus camera.

The OM-30 came with a Zuiko 35–70mm AF zoom autofocus lens. This lens came with a built-in motor that allowed continuous autofocus. 

The OM-30 also featured an F2/F4 switch for the focus system.

And that’s not all

Thanks to the innovative In-Focus Trigger cord socket, this camera can take images automatically as soon as they come into focus.

With this feature, a photographer could set up a street shot while waiting for the object to come into focus.

Like the OM-20, the OM-30 also featured a near-perfect metering system, which made it easier for a photographer to set exposure more accurately.

What about the viewfinder?

Like other OM cameras, the OM-30 came with a large and bright viewfinder that had a finder view-field of 93% of the actual picture field. When looking through the viewfinder, you could see a 12-bar LED indicator that displayed the shutter speed and whether an image was in focus or out of focus. 

Another great feature about the OM-30 was the fact that it featured both a manual and automatic mode.

If you prefer having full control of your shutter speed and aperture, the OM-30 is the camera for you. While in manual mode, you could set your shutter speed from 2 sec to 1/1000 sec.

Physical Description

Like other cameras in the OM double-digit series, the OM-30 had a plastic body. It came in either black or chrome.

The buttons and controls were easily laid out and could be reached even as one was holding the camera to their eye.

On the top plate, you have

  • The film rewind crank, and mode selector switch on the left side. The same switch can be used to check the battery level. 
  • An X-Contact hot shoe in the middle
  • An exposure concentration and ASA dial on the right.
  • Film advance lever on the right
  • And a 12-second self-timer lever.

Like other OM cameras, the shutter speed dial is located at the base of the lens mount, with the aperture ring being situated at the front of the lens. The electronic focus ring is located next to the aperture ring.

Shortcomings of the Camera

The OM-30 failed to attract many buyers due to several shortcomings.

For starters, being the first Olympus camera to feature an autofocus system meant the system would not be perfect. The OM-30 autofocus system was slow and inaccurate.

Another shortcoming with the OM-30 is the fact that the light seals in the camera disintegrate with time. When buying the camera, make sure to check the light seals.

If disintegrated or sticky, replace them as they aren’t costly.

Although not entirely a shortcoming, this camera requires five 1.5v SR 44 batteries to function.  

Final Thoughts

Despite its limited success, the Olympus OM-30 is an incredible camera.

It’s lightweight, has most of the features found in previous OM, and also features an autofocus system.

And if that’s not enough.

It’s pretty rare, which makes it a valuable addition to your collection of vintage classic cameras.

1980's Olympus

Olympus XA-1

Olympus XA-1

The Olympus XA-1 is a lightweight, affordable, and uncomplicated 35mm camera. First introduced in 1982, the XA-1 is the least acknowledged camera in the XA series.

Designed by Olympus’s legendary designer Yoshihisu Maitani, the Olympus XA series was a range of clamshell 35 mm rangefinders sold in the early 1980s. These cameras were small, compact, and paved the way for affordable, high-quality pocket cameras.

However, the XA-1 was different from other cameras in the series. It was a simple mechanical camera that took users to the past by incorporating technology from the 1960s. 

Despite the use of “vintage camera technology,” the XA-1 is a delight to use. Here’s why

The Cameras Features

One of the most notable features of the XA-1 is the compact clamshell design.

The cameras in the XA series were designed to be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket or a lady’s purse. The XA-1 was the smallest of the XA cameras, which makes this camera ideal for everyday use. You can easily slide the camera in and out of your pocket.

And that’s not all…

The curvy clamshell design also makes it comfortable to hold on your palm.

Using the camera is also straightforward.

It doesn’t have a power button. To use the camera, slide the clamshell open to uncover the lens and activate the selenium metering (technology from the 1960s).

With this camera, you can shoot from the hip, when lying on the ground or overhead.

Another notable feature of the XA-1 is the mechanical shutter. Although most would frown over the traditional sticky out shutter, I find this one of the best features of this camera.

For starters, the shutter doesn’t get stuck.

Secondly, the mechanical shutter makes the XA-1 the only camera in the XA series that can do an exposure lock. If you’re a more creative shooter, this is the XA for you.

To achieve exposure lock, point the camera to a bright light then half-press the shutter. Then move the camera to the object you’d like to capture and press the shutter release to the end.

What about optical quality?

The XA-1 is fitted with a D-Zuiko 35mm f/4 fixed lens that’s located behind the capsule cover. Unlike other clamshell cameras, the XA-1 lens doesn’t extend when the capsule is open. Olympus designed this lens to be shorter than it’s focal length.

As if that’s not enough…

The aperture priority exposure is accurate. The built-in selenium meter, which comes with a red pop up flag mechanism helps to prevent underexposure of photographs. 

Other Features

Like other cameras in the series, the XA-1 came with an external flash unit, the Olympus A9M, which was sold together with the camera. You can also use other flash units such as A11 and A16.

The camera also featured a shutter speed of 1/30 sec to 1/250 sec and an ASA of 100 or 400.

The XA-1 also lacks the signature red membrane touch shutter, which is common in other XA cameras.

Shortcomings of the Camera

There’s a reason why this is the least acknowledged camera in the XA series. One of those reasons is its simplicity.

For starters, the camera has a limited shutter speed range.

The camera also lacks a self-timer and backlight lever.

You also don’t get the option to override the exposure manually.

Final Thoughts

Despite what people may say, the Olympus XA-1 is a decent camera.

It’s simple to use, can be carried anywhere; it’s aesthetic to look at, and is affordable. It also brings back a feel of the classic vintage camera to a 1980’s rangefinder (new isn’t always better).

A worthy addition to your camera collection.

1990's Olympus

Olympus OM-2000

Olympus OM-2000

I’ll start with a disclaimer about the Olympus OM-2000.

If you’re an Olympus purist who strictly believes in Olympus built cameras, this post is not for you.

In this post, we’ll review the last camera in the OM series, the Olympus OM-2000. Produced between 1997-2000, the OM-2000 was and is still an excellent camera for students, learners, and young professionals.

Despite it not being a full blood Olympus camera—Cosina built the body and specified it to Olympus’s needs, the OM-2000 features some top of the line features that make it a worthy addition to your classic vintage camera collection.

Features of the Camera

One of the most prominent features of the OM-2000 is Spot metering—a feature not common in entry-level cameras

The camera is fitted with a switch which allows you to select spot or centre weighted metering. With spot metering, you can reduce the impact of a backlight, or other bright light from influencing exposure.

With this camera, you can take great photos, even with a bright background behind the subject.

Another great feature of the OM-2000 is the multiple exposure system, a function that wasn’t in other OM cameras.

With this feature, a photographer can take more creative shots. With the OM-2000 can take mirror and ghost images—something that’s impossible with single exposure cameras.

And that’s not all…

The OM-2000 also comes with a mirror lock-up feature which allows you to take vibration-free shots.

Speaking of shots, how’s the image quality?

Like other Olympus camera, the lens is sharp and easy to use.

The OM-2000 comes with two lenses, a 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8, and a 210 mm f/4.5-5.6. Like the body, the lenses were made by Cosina.

Other than its two lenses, the OM-2000 can also use other OM lenses. If you have other OMs in your collection, you won’t need to buy lenses.

What about Usability? Is it an everyday camera?

Unlike its predecessors, the OM-101 and OM-707, the OM-2000 is also relatively light—the body weighs 430 grams, with the 35-70mm lens, it weighs 615 grams.

This light weight makes it feel very nice at hand and easy to use.

It doesn’t end there…

The OM-2000 gives you back control of the ISO—something that wasn’t there in the OM-707. You also get a top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec.

Design and Physical Layout

Now here’s where the OM-2000 differs from other OM.

One of the most noticeable changes in design was the lack of a shutter speed dial at the bayonet mount. The OM-2000 shutter speed dial was located on the top plate.

Other than the self-timer, the face did not contain any other buttons.

Most of the functionality is on the top plate. On the top left is the Film Rewind Crank. Next to it, you have the spot metering/centre weighted metering switch.

The shutter speed dial and ISO dial are located on the right side of the top plate. Here you also have the shutter release button, film advance crank, the multiple exposure lever, and the Frame counter.

Shortcomings of the Camera

As mentioned above, the OM-2000 was not a pure breed Olympus camera. If you’re an Olympus purist, this camera is not for you.

The OM-2000 is also not compatible with other OM accessories other than the lenses. You can’t use motor drives, finder screen and data checks from other OM devices.

Final thoughts

Despite having a Cosina built body, the OM-2000 was and remains to be an incredible camera as per OM standards.

It’s light, has spot metering, and features a multiple exposure system. It’s also an economical entry-level camera making it great for students.

It can also make a great addition to your collection—the different design brings diversity to your OM collection.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-101

Olympus OM-101

The Olympus OM-101 (OM-88 in the US) was a consumer-grade 35mm SLR that was released in 1988.

Released two years after the flopped Olympus OM-707, The OM-101 was built for the average consumer who wanted better images without the long learning curve associated with classic SLR cameras.

Like other Olympus cameras, the OM-101 came with some unique features, which have made it a favorite among many advanced amateur photographers.

Features of the Camera

One unique feature of the OM-101 was the “Power Focus” feature.

Although it seemed like a downgrade, the OM-101 lacked the Autofocus feature that was in the OM-707. Instead, it had a power focus feature which used a motorized focusing system that was controlled by a thumbwheel at the back of the camera. This ring replaced the focusing ring and aperture ring.

Unlike the OM-707, where you didn’t have any control over the focus, the power focus ring gives this control back to you

If you didn’t like the automatic focus feature in the OM-707, then you’ll love the OM-101.

And that’s not all:

The OM-101 was the perfect camera for any armature photographers.

It doesn’t have an automatic mode but features a manual and program mode. In the default program mode, the camera does all the heavy lifting for you. It chooses the right combination of aperture and shutter speed.

Your only job is to focus and pick the perfect shot.

And it doesn’t end there…

Olympus also released an adapter that allowed you full control of the camera. With the manual adapter, you had full control over the shutter speed and aperture.

Talk about a camera made for both novice and advanced users. 

The OM-101 also came with two Zuiko lenses designed specifically for it. These are the 35-70mm/ F3.5-4.5 PF and 50mm/F2 PF. It could also use the eight lenses from the OM-707.

As if that’s not enough.

The OM-101 uses 4 AAA batteries, which are easy to find.

Other Features

  • 12-seconds self-timer
  • DX coding film speeds from 25-3200. However, it automatically sets to ISO 100 when the film has no DX coding.
  • Shutter speed – 1/2000s
  • It features automatic film loading, advance, and rewinding.
  • X-sync port for attaching a flash mechanism. You could use the T series flash on both modes, and the F280 flash unit when in manual mode.
  • It also has a hot shoe mount at the top of the camera.
  • It featured center-weighted metering

Shortcomings of the Camera

If you’re a more advanced film photographer, using the OM-101 comes with several disadvantages.

For starters, there’s no way of adjusting the ASA setting—You can’t use a B/W or expired film with this camera.

When using program mode, you also have no way of knowing what shutter speed your using. Your only point of reference is the blinking LED shake warning.

It’s also quite heavy, weighing around 600 grams.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a beginner and are looking for a classic SLR film camera, the OM-101 is a good choice.

The Power Focus and program mode do all the hard work for you, and you still end up with high-quality photographs. As you get the hang of it and decide to practice manual film photography, you can always use the manual adapter.

And that’s not all

The camera is relatively cheap, making it the perfect camera for a beginner or more advanced user.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-707

Olympus OM-707

The Olympus OM-707, also known as the OM-77 in some markets was the first and last 35 mm SLR automatic focus (AF) Olympus camera.

Released between 1986 and 1991, the OM 77 wasn’t as successful as its predecessors despite it being among the first AF cameras in the market—the only other AF cameras in the market were the Nikon F501 and the Minolta Dynax 7000

However, despite the low popularity, the OM-707 had some unique features that make it a worthy addition to your classic SLR collection.

Features of the Camera

The OM-707 came with several innovative features.

For starters, it was the first camera to feature a flash system with flash synch to all shutter speeds. At the time of production, this unique F280 Full-Synchro Electronic Flash had the highest syncing speed at 1/2000s.

Another unique feature of the Olympus OM-707 was the two grips that let you choose how to hold the camera. One was the Power Flash Grip 300, which had a small pop-up flash and a shutter release button. The other grip was the Power Grip 100 which had a shutter release button but didn’t have the flash.

The OM-707 was also one of the first cameras to introduce a lens without focus control but used an on-body power focus control. The knob for the Power Focus was on the right side where you could adjust the focus. You could also lock the Automatic Exposure through a button labelled AE on the camera.

What about the lens?

Like other OM cameras, the OM-77 lenses are quite sharp. Image quality is excellent.

The OM-707 also came with eight unique Autofocus lenses—more than any other AF 35 mm SLR camera at the time.

And that’s not all

This camera also featured the OM bayonet mount which could mount lenses from other OM cameras. So, if you have other OMs in your collection, you’ll have an endless supply of lenses to use with your OM707.

However, you should know that the OM-707 was an autofocus camera. When using legacy lenses, you’re only limited to changing only the aperture.

Other Features

This camera featured an automatic film winding system that moved at 1.5 fps. It also used the centre-weighted metering technique.

At the top of the camera, there as an LCD that showed the film speed, battery level, the Mode selected (AF or PF), and self-timer indicator.

The self-timer had a 12-second delay. Since you can’t set the ISO manually, it features the DX code reading capability that ranges from 25-3200

With all these features, why didn’t the OM-707 take off?

The Negatives

For starters, the power grips were faulty and got easily destroyed. After Olympus ceased manufacturing of this camera, it becomes hard to find a functional power grip in the market today.

This camera also lacked some crucial features that were in its predecessors. These include the manual focus ring, the aperture settings ring, the ISO dial, and spot-metering. The viewfinder also didn’t have the shutter speed and aperture suggestion information.

It was also quite heavy when compared to the OM- single-digit and double-digit series.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be honest.

The OM-707 wasn’t the best camera in the OM series.

It was heavy and lacked a manual focus ring, aperture settings ring, shutter speed dial, and any other aspects for professional photographers

Its many shortcomings made it less popular among many professional photographers.

However, its lack of popularity is what makes it such a valuable collector’s item. It’s rare and is the only Olympus SLR with Autofocus. Although you may not use it as your everyday camera, the Olympus OM-707 is still a worthy addition to your collection of vintage classic cameras.

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.

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.

1970's Olympus

Olympus OM-10

Olympus OM-10

If you’ve been hunting for a camera that’ll give an intimate and nostalgic feel to photography without you having to break the bank, the Olympus OM-10 is the perfect camera for you.

Cheap and easy to find, the OM-10 was the first camera in the OM double-digit series.

First introduced in 1979, the OM-10 was Olympus’s effort at pricing down the single-digit OMs. Initially meant for entry-level consumers, the OM-10 was a massive success despite it being less hardy than its predecessors.

So, what made this camera unique? Let’s find out.

Features of the OM-10

One feature that made the OM-10 sell so much was its everyday usability.

For starters, the OM-10 was lighter than any of its predecessors. At 606g, it was 100g lighter than the OM-2. This lightweight feature was mainly because most of the body was not metal.

Its lightweight nature makes the OM-10 the perfect camera for everyday use.

And that’s not all

The camera came at a reasonably low price. Unlike single digit OM cameras which are mainly collectables, the OM-10 is relatively easy to find. You don’t have to worry about being too careful when using it.

Even if you broke it, you’d still be able to get another one at a fairly reasonable price.

Another feature that made the OM-10 so famous was the ease of use.

The OM-10 was a manual focus aperture priority camera. When using it, all you had to do was manually set the focus, and aperture and the camera would determine the perfect shutter speed.

With the OM-10, there’s no need to worry about the perfect shutter speed; the camera does all the heavy lifting for you.

What about the Optics?

The OM-10 comes with the standard 50mm Zuiko lens, which is perfect for shooting portraits and general photos.

And like other OM cameras, the OM-10 allows you to use a wide array of breathtaking Zuiko lenses and other third-party accessories.

Design and Physical Layout

Like other cameras in the OM series, the OM-10 featured an exceptional and minimalist design.

For starters, the camera was small and compact, with most of the buttons being located on the top plate.

On the right, you have the

  • Film advance crank
  • ISO dial
  • Exposure compensation dial.

On the left side, you have the

  • Film rewind crank
  • Self-timer
  • On and off mode button that also acts as a battery check

The OM-10 features a bulb, auto, and manual adapter mode button below the ISO dial. The button for these options is below the ISO dial.

After attaching the manual adapter, you can select the manual adapter mode, and this will allow you to choose the shutter speed. The auto option enables you to use the aperture- priority metering.  The bulb mode will let you take shots as long as the shutter is pushed down. It also has an extension for the release cable.

Shortcomings of the Olympus OM-10

One of the most noticeable flaws of the OM-10 is the lack of a manual mode.

If you’re one of those people who “feel naked” without the manual mode, you can attach an external adapter to the camera to allow you to use manual mode.

And that’s not all…

In a bid to make the OM-10 cheaper, Olympus compromised on several quality aspects. This includes building the camera with a less durable body, which made the camera more susceptible to damage.

The OM-10 also lacked certain features including an elaborate dampening system. This made the shutter extra noisy.

The all-electronic feature of the OM-10 also meant you couldn’t use without batteries. However, it uses the LR44 or the AG13 button batteries, which are easy to find.

Final Thoughts

If you’d love to try the classic SLR’s without breaking the bank, the OM-10 is your go-to camera.

It’s also more inclined towards aperture-priority metering, making it ideal for beginning photographers.

It’s inexpensive nature, and ease of use also makes it the perfect camera for everyday use and not just a decorative piece.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-4

Olympus OM-4

The Olympus OM-4 is the perfect blend between an electronic and classic camera. Like the Nikon F, the OM-4 was a gamechanger for Olympus.

Mass-produced from 1983 to 1987, the OM-4 was the last camera in the OM series. It used a similar body to the OM-1 and OM-2 but featured a few improvements.

So, what makes this camera unique?

Camera Features

One of Olympus OM-4’s most distinct features is the radical shift in how the camera metered.

The OM-4 featured a fantastic spot metering system that was intuitive and easy to use. With the switch of a button, you can easily switch between the default multi-spot metering system and spot metering system.

And that’s not all

The OM-4 also features a system for exposure compensation.  Coupled with the spot metering feature, you’ll surely enjoy shooting heavily backlit subjects.

As if that’s not enough

The OM-4 comes with a spectacular viewfinder.

With just the right combination of modern technology and a design that still looks retro, the OM-4 viewfinder is one of its most significant features.

Similar to previous OM versions, the viewfinder is large and bright. However, rather than a needle metering system, the OM-4 features an LCD at the bottom of the viewfinder.  The LCD displays a 36-segment bar graph that indicates the best shooting shutter speed for different scenes.

Speaking of shutter speed…

The OM-4 features faster shutter speeds of 1/2000.

And the best part…

Despite having an electronically controlled shutter, the OM-4 can still be operated using a dead battery. All you’ll have to do is set it to both “B” and 1/60th speed modes.

The ability to use the camera with dead batteries means you can easily test it if you come across it in a thrift shop or garage sale but don’t have batteries around.

What about the accessories?

Like it’s predecessors, the Olympus OM-4 uses the incredible Zuiko lenses—you can interchangeably use the accessories from other Olympus cameras in your collection.  

Physical Appearance and Design Features

Like any other single-digit OM camera, the Olympus OM-4 was well built.

If you’ve handled the OM-1 or OM-2, the OM-4 is not very different. Other than a few added buttons, the OM-4 features the same minimalist design as it’s predecessors.

At first glance, you’d dismiss the OM-4 as another 80’s electronics—cheap and plasticky. However, the OM-4 has very few plastic parts. Even the shutter release button is solid metal.

On top of the camera you have:

  • The ISO adjustment and exposure compensation dial at the left
  • The manual, auto and battery check switch
  • A fixed hot shoe
  • Highlight and shadow buttons
  • Shutter release
  • Film advance

The face features an aperture dial, the focusing ring, and a shutter speed dial. Having these three features on the same plane means that you can easily adjust these settings without taking your eye off the viewfinder.

Below the hot shoe mount, there is the diopter adjustment that moves from +2 to -2. This adjustment can come in handy if you wear glasses.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Early versions of the OM-4 were blasted for a design flaw that resulted in the battery draining extremely fast. These early versions used the battery even when the camera was set in manual mode.

To save the battery, you have to remove them when not using the camera or you could set the shutter speed to ‘B’.

Olympus however, released the Olympus OM-4T and Olympus OM-4Ti which fixed the battery drain issue.

Final Thoughts

Other than the battery drain issue, the Olympus OM-4 is a pretty amazing camera.

It combined the compact design of the OM-1 and OM-2, and the advanced features of the OM-2n and the OM-3 to give the best experience you’ll ever get with a 35mm SLR camera. The OM-4 is a worthwhile addition to any photographer.

1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-3

Olympus OM-3

Talk about hard to find.

The Olympus OM-3 is the second rarest Olympus camera – after the M-1.

Produced between 1983 and 1986, the OM-3 is a “cult camera”—most manual camera collectors will pay top dollar for it.

But what’s so amazing about this camera?

Unique Features

Olympus cameras never fall short of unique features.

The OM-1 was known for its legendary small size and excellent viewfinder. The OM-2 became the first camera to have the Automatic Dynamic Metering (ADM) TTL system.

The OM-3 was not any different.

The Olympus OM-3 came with the multi-spot metering in addition to the center-weighted metering that was available in OM-1 and OM-2 cameras.

By including a multi-spot metering feature, the OM-3 was able to calculate a more accurate ideal exposure for every image.

And that’s not all

The Olympus OM-3 also came with highlight and shadow buttons. With these buttons, a photographer was able to identify which parts of the image could be exposed as black or white.

The camera also featured an LCD readout that replaced the needle in the viewfinder.

If you didn’t like the automatic exposure feature in the OM-2, the OM-3 went back to being fully mechanical.

Being fully mechanical, the OM-3 allows you to shoot in sunny 16 and still get the exposure right without using batteries. But if you can’t guess the exposure, the metering modes are always at your disposal.

What about Shutter Speed?

The OM-3 comes with a shutter speed of 1/2000 that makes this camera ideal for outdoor shots. With the extra shutter speed, you can comfortably use a fast lens with the OM-3.

As if that’s not enough

The OM-3 also featured improvements to the high-speed sync flash

Design Features

The OM-3 features the same minimalist design as its predecessors. The body is mainly composed of aluminum, with the top and bottom plates being made from Titanium. 

Unlike its predecessors which featured a removable hot-shoe, the OM-3 came with a fixed hot-shoe.

The face of the OM-3 did not feature a self-timer switch.

Most buttons are located at the top of the camera.

Shortcomings of the camera

If you’re used to the other OM cameras, you might have some trouble getting used to the OM-3.

One of the first differences you’ll notice is the harsh film advance. Unlike the OM-1 and OM-2, which have a particular slick advance, the OM-3 features steel gears, which makes advancing the film feel a bit harsh.

It also lacks the self-timer; you can forget about taking photographs of yourself and with your friends.

The OM-3 is also not the best for beginners. It was designed to provide specific advanced features to more experienced photographers.

Few of them were released, which makes it extremely hard to find.

Final thoughts

It’s fair to say that the OM-3 was an upgraded version of the OM-1 and the mechanical sister to the OM-4.

Despite lacking some features, the OM-3 is an excellent camera for any outdoor photographer.

It doesn’t disappoint. Being fully mechanical, you can keep shooting even when the battery runs out.

And that’s not all

The mechanical shutter gives this camera a sense of swiss watch perfection and artistry.

If you’re looking for a rare mechanical camera with impressive features, the OM-3 is your best bet—if you can find one.