Learning Journeys

How I Came to own my Grandfather’s Olympus OM10 – By Joel Anning

April 8, 2021

Maybe around seven or eight months ago now, my Dad had started up on what appeared to be his next new hobby. I’d be lying if I said that at the time I paid much attention, but what I do remember is that it involved pinhole cameras, in fact, I think he actually had an article for his little project published on this very website.

Anyways because of his nature, this hobby quickly escalated, and a couple weekends later a weird box with two holes appeared on the living room shelf (which I now more accurately refer to as the Yashica Mat 124-G). This quickly became his pride and joy, and he seemed to find even more joy in explaining to the household it’s every feature, function and quirk.

Despite his best efforts, getting a 16 year old kid interested in a camera that, in my eyes, resembled a door stopper more than a classic piece of Japanese engineering, proved to be quite the struggle. That was until one day, where he had resumed his midday position on the sofa scrolling through eBay, he somehow found a Canon AE1 with a full FD lens set, flash, and documentation, all for a grand total of £60. Safe to say, he didn’t hesitate.

Now when I first saw his recent purchase appear next to the Yashica, my reaction was a little different. The AE1 actually looked like a camera, not an oblong box, not a door stopper, but an actual camera-shaped camera, and I guess that was enough for me to actually want to pick it up and use it.

Upon showing this slight bit of interest, my Dad jumped over to his film draw, pulled out a roll of HP5 and hastily ushered me out the front door. Now in the next 30 minutes, my Dad unloaded about a months worth of pent up camera knowledge on me, this was pretty daunting, but I must have enjoyed it to a certain degree, because I asked if I could take it to finish the roll while out with my friends the following afternoon, to of which he gladly accepted. Below are a couple of photos from that first roll. 

The following months it became a common occurrence for me to ask to take the AE1 out. My camera knowledge was pretty much limited to: As long as the shutter speed is above 1/60th and the blinking red light doesn’t show, I can take a picture, pretty much rendering the SLR a heavy, manual focus point and shoot, but oh well, I was having fun.

As time went on I did begin to loosely understand shutter speed, and played around with it a little. Aperture was still a mystery to me, but looking back, with the AE1 being a shutter priority camera, my aimless twisting of the shutter speed dial did throw some varying amounts of depth of field into the pictures. 

Now while my dad liked to see me enjoying shooting with it, he also wanted it back at some point too, so we eventually came to the agreement that I needed one for myself. Admittedly this was a little upsetting to me as I’d gotten quite fond of the AE1, but I knew that an A series was probably outside of the realm of possibility based on what was in my bank account.

Maybe a week later, my dad had worked his magic and thought of a solution to my next to non-existent camera funds issue, and started to tell me about some brief memories of his own Dad’s old camera (although he couldn’t remember the model exactly), throwing in that it was entirely possible it was still patiently sitting somewhere in the loft down in Plymouth where they lived.

Shortly after that, I was discussing it with my Grandad on a facetime call, followed by a bit of an adventure into the loft on his part, and after some very appreciative words had been passed on to him from me, it was ultimately followed by a camera bag sized box arriving at my doorstep a week later.

Opening it up was pretty damn exciting, it was getting on for four decades old, but was brand new to me. Sitting there was a shiny Olympus OM10, a full lens set, flash, original receipts, straps, filters and in all honesty, I couldn’t have been happier with it.

I’ll skip the majority of the details of the following month, but I used the hell out of it (examples below), and loved doing it, everything from flash photography, portraits, action sports, long exposures, I shot it all, continuing to do so to this day. At this point I’ve learnt a great deal and got the array of settings pretty figured out, even doing all the typical film enthusiast activities such as, developing and printing, disassembling cameras and of course not shutting up about them in social situations.

The main reason I’ve loved the OM10 as much as I have so far is not because of its technical capabilities… no it doesn’t have every feature I could ever need, no it doesn’t have the build construction of an armoured tank and no the lens set is not {NEAR MINT} EXC++++ (insert nice Zuiko lens name) from Japan. It’s because it fires at the right speeds and lets light in like it should, it belonged to my Grandad, and was used to take my own dad’s childhood holiday pictures literally decades ago.

The fact that all these years later the OM10 still functions like it should and that I as the third generation of our family can use it to go out and document my own childhood, is pretty special. Thanks for reading. 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Stefan Wilde
    April 8, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Joel,

    such a wonderful story of a family heirloom being put to very good use! And so impressive to see what you have learnt in such a short time! While all the shots are good and the portraits are beautiful, my favourite is the one the black and white one looking down the parking for its unusual perspective and the great light. thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      Joel Anning
      April 9, 2021 at 10:30 am

      I appreciate the kind words there, thankyou 🙂

  • Reply
    Con
    April 8, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    I haven’t ever commented on these blog posts before but I actually really relate to this. I got into film by fixing and shooting my geat aunties trip 35 then thrifting many many cameras from charity stores. I’ve got more film and cameras than I can count at this stage. I just think the family link about it shooting your dads childhood and now yours, 3 generations etc. really wholesome. I feel the same way about my great aunts camera. I just wanted to say that I like your pictures and your article is better written and more interesting than what some 40 year old men come out with on this site. Fair play

  • Reply
    Matthias Steck
    April 8, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your images and the story how you got your grandfathers camera.
    I really like the portrait of the blond girl, a gorgeous shot.
    You’re a lucky guy, the Olympus OM are very sought after today, esp. the lenses.

    I was also lucky three years ago. My (old) parents passed their Minolta X-700 to me in fully working condition. It’s by far not as beautiful as the OM10, but a very capable camera. I had not been used for almost 9 years, but worked perfectly even the battery (I did not chance it till today !).
    Unlike you I did know about this camera. I remember when my parents showed it to me on a travel to Sicily in 1983 and I made my first photos with it in the 1990ies.
    I also like the idea to take pictures of my three children with the camera that made my childhood photos.

    Cheers Matthias

    • Reply
      Joel Anning
      April 9, 2021 at 10:29 am

      Thanks for sharing that story, I always love hearing about the background and origins of family cameras like yours, it’s really great to see that even after being in a loft for the odd decade or so they’re still ready to kick back in to gear 🙂

  • Reply
    Immo
    April 9, 2021 at 8:09 am

    A good story and a fine camera. Go out and use it, the memories of your youth will be just of a different quality than if you used a phone only. Which color film did you shoot here?

    • Reply
      Joel Anning
      April 9, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Thanks I couldn’t agree more, it’s mostly Kodak ColourPlus, but there are a couple Portra 400 shots hidden in there 🙂

      • Reply
        Immo
        April 10, 2021 at 8:15 pm

        Try Fuji C200 when you have the time. I was extremely surprised how nice the colors are, and it is very affordable as well.

        • Reply
          Joel Anning
          April 11, 2021 at 10:03 am

          Will do, you had me at affordable!

  • Reply
    Jim Anning
    April 9, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    Great Photos. So nice to see that light is making its way into this camera again 🙂

    Very proud of you,… I’ll go back to “resuming my midday position on the sofa scrolling through eBay”

  • Reply
    Huss
    April 9, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Really like your pics Joel, and great story!

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    April 12, 2021 at 2:52 am

    Great story. Reminds me of my journey into film photography but seperated by about 50 years! My dad got me hooked on photography with a 35mm Agfa Silette rangefinder. Cost all of £5. Exposure was based on a leaflet in the film box. Bank of dad paid for most of my film and d&p. He got me a Pentax K1000 for my 21st – I have it still. Those two cameras taught me about 80% of what I know today. We lost dad 11 years ago but I still think of him every time I pick up a film camera. He’d love to have seen how I’ve got back into film.

  • Reply
    Andrew Craig
    April 21, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Hello Joel,
    It is clear, you have a way of telling a story, a good eye, you can put the subject at ease – and you are young. With all that, I am sure you will do something wonderful.

    • Reply
      Joel Anning
      April 21, 2021 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks I really appreciate that 🙂

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