Olympus OM-10
5 frames with...

5 Frames with an Olympus OM-10 and Ilford HP5 Plus – By Sam Larson

July 14, 2020

My Olympus OM-10 was a mistake. I hadn’t owned an SLR since I claimed my dad’s OM-2 for a high school photography class. I’d bought an Olympus 35RC a couple months prior and loved the form factor and quirky rangefinder vibe, but I wanted something more authoritative, with options for different lenses and the sharp-sounding smack of a mirror. Since that old OM-2 went to the great scrap heap in the sky at the hands of a sibling I found myself searching Ebay.

I don’t remember making the initial low bid on my OM-10. I was too distracted by eight or ten ongoing auctions for various OM-2 and OM-2n models. And in the heat of watching all of those auctions spiral quickly out of my price range I quietly, and accidentally, won the auction for my OM-10.

language sculpture

Freestanding sculpture outside of Union Station, Denver, CO

But this isn’t so bad, I thought as I reread the confirmation email. It had most of what I was looking for, though slightly more electronics than I was hoping. It also shipped with nice glass, a very crisp 50mm f1.8 kit lens and the odd little OM-10 shutter speed dial that mounts to the front of the camera body. Since the OM-10 was the amateur model in the OM line it defaults to aperture priority and true manual control is only available with the use of this awkward add-on dial. It also came into my hands for roughly half the price I was planning on paying for an OM-2. So what the heck? Here I am, the proud owner of something kinda close to the camera I wanted and, I gotta tell ya, it’s just fine. Maybe I’ll get that OM-2 someday, and maybe the sale of this OM-10 will fund it, but that’s all in the future.

Terminal

The rail terminal behind Union Station, Denver, CO

Milk Market sculpture

Hanging sculpture inside the Milk Market, Denver, CO

track sculpture

Sculpture along the Light Rail tracks

Union Station

The front of Union Station in Denver, CO

These pictures come from the first test roll I shot on a half day photo walk through downtown Denver, CO. Union Station and the surrounding blocks feature heavily in the photos. I used most of a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus on this walk, just trying to run some film through a new camera and see how everything performed. I dug it. The heft of the camera is very different from my digital gear and the limited exposures forced me to slow down and think hard about shots, something I don’t typically worry about since digital frames are effectively free and limitless.

I liked the new intentionality of it, and each picture, accompanied by that swish-smack of the SLR’s mirror, felt consequential. I sent the film off as soon as I finished the roll and here we are. Looking back at the pictures I can see where I struggled with exposure, especially in Colorado’s fairly relentless mid-day sunshine. If nothing else these pics, and the rest of the roll, point the way towards new skills to practice and new ways to think about snapping photos.

More of my photos, both film and digital, can be seen on my Instagram account.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    July 14, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Nice job, these are excellent negative! And you have a good eye for shapes and forms. This OM-10 appears to be working perfectly, and that 1.8 lens is equivalent to any of the 50mm 1.7, 1.8, or 2.0 lenses of that era. Congrats on a great purchase.

  • Reply
    Sam Larson
    July 14, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you much, I appreciate the kind words. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back out and shoot with the OM-10 again but the pandemic, and ongoing lockdowns, restrictions, etc., make it hard to find the time and space.

  • Reply
    Huss
    July 14, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Pics look great! OM-10 was my first camera, wish I still had it!

  • Reply
    Micah
    July 14, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    I recently picked up an OM-10 off eBay too! Also unintentionally! What I wanted was the 50 1.8 attached to it to mount to my (intentionally purchased) OM-4. I don’t think I’ll keep the ’10, as mine doesn’t even have the shutter speed knobby, but it certainly seems like a perfectly usable, cheap OM body to get access to those nice OM lenses.

    Very nice shots, especially for a test roll!

  • Reply
    Justin K
    July 15, 2020 at 12:05 am

    So were you shooting in AP mode or fully manual? Regardless, nice shots; #4 (the sculpture by the tracks) is my fav. I have a black OM-10. I thought it’d be a fun SLR to take camping, maybe on the kayak. I like it a lot! I have the same glass as you, and I’ve been impressed more times than I can tell you. I think it focuses quickly, and the split-image focusing screen is very nice. I think I paid $55 USD for mine on eBay, which also included the manual adapter. I paid a little more to get it in black. Happy shooting!

    • Reply
      Sam Larson
      July 15, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      I shot about half the roll in AP and half in manual though I’m not sure I could tell you which shot was which since I was bouncing back and forth a bit. If there’s an exposure issue it’s likely that I shot that frame in manual. Thanks for the comment.

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