Olympus OM-2n

This was my first analog camera so I might be biased, but for all it’s flaws, I couldn’t imagine myself using anything different day-to-day.

First, the good:
I have never held a camera that feels so good in the hands. It’s weighty and solid, but never feels heavy. I can carry it around for a whole day of shooting without even noticing it. It’s not small enough to fit in a pocket, but it’s small.

Released in 1975 as the successor to Olympus’ OM-1, it took everything that made that camera great – the size, the design and the system of lenses – and added new features such as an automatic exposure mode, and the first camera to use off-the-film (OTF) light metering.

Rachel, Agfa Vista 200, shot at 400

The OTF light metering, I found, to provide great exposure nearly every time. It was reliable and constant, even if it did sometimes read differently than the light meter on my iPhone.

I only have three lenses with this camera, an f/2.8 28mm, f/1.8 50mm and an f/3.5 135mm. All three are fixed focal length, with fantastic build quality and very clear glass. The lenses differ from the likes of Nikon and Canon by having the aperture ring on the front of the lens- something that definitely takes a little while to get used to if you are¬†accustomed to having the focusing ring front-most. The lens mount on the body also has an abnormality – instead of housing the shutter speed on top of the camera like Nikon’s F3, it is controlled by a ring at the back of the lens. This allows you to control the shutter speed without having to move your hand away from the focusing ring when shooting in manual mode.

Tiger at Marwell, Agfa Vista 200

The heads up display is great and easy to read. It’s a little needle that will tell you the speed it is shooting at in AP mode, or whether you are under or over exposing in manual mode.

Automatic HUD, left; manual, right

Aperture priority mode is great. It allows you to just focus on the images you’re making. Just set it and forget it. (Almost, anyway. You’ll see.)

Now, unfortunately, for the bad:
Most of what I have to say about the bad is just experience with my particular camera – things that are almost to be expected with any camera this old. This shouldn’t be used against this camera, just make sure you know that old cameras have issues and expect to either pay a little more for a model that has recently been cleaned, lubricated and adjusted, or factor that in as something you are going to need to do very soon.

I said previously that my light meter is nice and accurate. Which it is! The only issue with it is I have a sticky focal plane shutter. Meaning that if the light meter tries to shoot at 1/500 or higher, I’ll only get half a picture. Which really sucks. There have been days shooting in bright sunlight where I have wasted an entire roll of film to capped images. Let me show you what I mean:

A bridge somewhere (capped), Kentmere 400

I do have to admit, this makes me very sad.

Penguins at Marwell (capped), Agfa Vista 200

But sometimes it’s not the end of the world. Some of the photos can be cropped. I just need to remember to keep an eye on the speed on the heads up display and adjust the aperture to compensate. Once I have found someone to give my camera the CLA it so desperately needs, I’ll be happy.

Another shortcoming of this camera is that¬†the light metering only goes up to ISO 1600- meaning you can’t shoot Ilford’s Delta 3200 on this, not without using an external light meter, or pulling it down to 1600. Again, not the end of the world for most people, not unless you’re shooting at night or underground in the dark.

Despite its flaws, I couldn’t imagine carrying a different camera around. I know this camera, and I love it. It might be slightly broken, but that just makes us two peas in a pod.