5 frames with...

5 Frames with an Olympus OM-2N – By Chris Johnson

Picture of an Olympus OM-2n on a table with 50mm f/1.8 lens

It was one of those spur of the minute things, my girlfriend had seen a trip on the web and said “What about a trek to Everest Base Camp?” Of course, the only sensible response to this was “YES!” So, a few months, and a lot of training, later we boarded a flight to Kathmandu, ready for the adventure of a lifetime. 

Of course, the question had come up, what camera do I take to record this trip? I took my digital, a mirrorless Sony, but I really wanted to shoot film, not only because I couldn’t rely on the ability to recharge batteries, but also because I just prefer to shoot film. Clearly, I had to carry this up a mountain so the Zenza Bronica ETRS that I own was out. However much I desperately wanted to take it, weight is the enemy at over 5000m. Still, it had to be able to take good pictures, this was to be a once in a lifetime adventure, after all. It would need to be reliable, subjected to extreme cold and dust. In the end, my choice was clear, my Olympus OM-2n. 

The trip was every bit as incredible as you’d hope. The people of Nepal are some of the friendliest you could ever meet and the landscape is breathtaking. At the lower altitudes you walk through verdant woodland, sharing the trails with other walkers, Nepalese people going about their everyday business and porters and donkeys carrying huge loads. Even at this altitude, it is impossible to use vehicles to transport goods as there are no roads. 

Higher up, the woodland gives way to short scrub, then all vegetation disappears, making way for a lunar landscape that is very surreal. At this altitude, the temperature drops considerably, another good reason to use a film camera as lithium-ion batteries discharge rapidly in cold temperatures! Overnight at the highest stop (Gorak Shep) the water in our water bottles froze solid, temperatures outside our tin shed bedroom dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the Olympus survived the trip and performed flawlessly. Although, when I got home the metering seemed to be playing up. A good service has restored it back to full working order, even if it did empty my wallet in the process…

Boy carries 3 gas canisters up a mountain

Porters start work at a very young age and carry huge loads up the mountain side. This is actually a very well paid job in Nepal.

Mountain scene with porters

Porters carry immense loads up the mountains using straps made of sack cloth across their foreheads.

Eagles flying above some people

The acclimatisation day at Dingboche takes you up the mountain side, where you can see eagles roaming overhead, and in some cases below you.

View of mountains with people walking up a valley

The further up the trail that you go, the more the views take your breath away

Yak Train

Yaks are used to carry heavy loads on the Base Camp Trail.

Blog website: fatandlazy.co.uk
Portfolio Website: chrisbjohnson.co.uk
Instagram: @hotpurplepeople
Twitter: @hotpurplepeople & @fatandlazyuk

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Neil
    August 15, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Great camera and congrats on your trip too. I’d love to do the same thing myself someday.

    I would say I prefer my OM2n to my FM2n. The Nikon is better made sure, but the Olympus has a few advantages for me, viewfinder is huge, (I love the simple understated exposure information in it too, how it slides in from the left) the size is also great it’s not much bigger than a rangefinder, and I’ve never had any trouble with any I’ve own they’ve been super reliable and sturdy. All of that plus the zuiko lenses, you can pick them up for dirt cheap I got a 135 3.5 recently costing me a whopping £35, and the standard 50 1.8 you get with it in most cases is a brilliant lens. A very good camera system in my opinion.

  • Reply
    waller
    August 16, 2018 at 9:32 am

    it’s a great camera especially in the mountains ;)… and hat’s off to you for the fantastic trip!

  • Reply
    Lukas
    August 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Very cool, congrats on having the balls to rely on an analog setup. I did the Annapurna Circuit and I must say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I lugged my Fuji setup with some hefty lenses around that mountain and I must say my shoulders would have preferred a small 35mm SLR or rangefinder with three nice primes…

    • Reply
      Chris Johnson
      August 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks Lucas, I actually found using the OM2 really easy. The main benefit was not having to worry about batteries. On the flip side, I was rather worried about running out of film.
      I am looking to do the Annapurna circuit sometime in the future, it looks fantastic.

  • Reply
    Graham Orbell
    August 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Great photos and a good choice of camera. I’ve often thought that for use in adverse conditions those waterproof disposable cardboard preloaded film cameras could be the most reliable.
    I’m not sure if they are still available, but I once used one in an emergency for stills as part of a professional video shoot and the results were fine.

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