35mm Film & Vintage SLR cameras


 Olympus OM-1 

Many words have been written about this classic, so I won’t bother adding too many more to the pile. It’s a superb example of clever and original design on both technical and aesthetic levels. It looks good and it takes great photos, basically.


A quick word about the batteries. It was designed to use a 1.35V mercury battery but these haven’t been made for years for environmental reasons. I now use a hearing aid battery in a brass spacer (as the battery is too small for the compartment) which works well and costs peanuts.

My first attempts with the OM-1 didn’t work out as I was, unknown to me, using dud batteries which made the meter droop, so I ended up over-exposing everything. Ouch. I also took a while to get into the swing of working with an all-manual camera, as I had previously used a Ricoh with aperture priority. On the plus side, I learnt a lot of useful lessons. Number one being that it’s a good idea to check the meters on old cameras by putting them side by side with a known good camera, and comparing readings.

The OM-1 is as basic as you can get, for a 1970s SLR. This lack of gadgets means that you can get on with thinking about the photo, rather than what the various knobs and dials are set to.

Just like the K1000, the OM-1 is all about the photographer, not the camera.