Olympus OM10 – It’s Not You, It’s Me – By Jay Ridsdale

Purchased for around £50 complete with a Miranda 28-70mm zoom lens, I never loved the Olympus OM10 and by the time we parted company I doubt it was all that fond of me. The camera looks like metal but is mostly plastic and it nagged at me that it was at the consumer end of the line and not one of the classic Olympus SLR bodies like the OM1. On top of that I didn’t like that you needed a separate attachment to control the shutter speed and shoot in full manual mode. The OM10 immediately seemed like a fraud but this was my initiation to film photography and I still had high hopes for the results.

I shot three rolls in our first and only summer together. The first was  Kodak ColorPlus 200 using the Miranda lens which I found dark and almost impossible to focus irrespective of the conditions. The pictures were soft and mostly underexposed but viewed kindly and following the passing of time have a charm that comes from analogue photography like they belong to the summer of 1976 not the summer of 2016

The unloved Miranda lens was immediately replaced with a more respectable Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.8. Unfortunately, the kit had improved but the results never did. My next roll was Ilford XP2 shot on a bright summer’s day at the beach in Woolacombe. Using the default aperture priority mode with the lens close to wide open I completely overlooked that the camera was at the maximum shutter speed, and I was overexposing every shot.

I was now two rolls into my film photography experiment, and it was a dead heat between underexposure and overexposure. Despite the disappointments I gave the OM10 one more chance this time with a roll of Kodak Portra 400.  Investing in a premium film stock seemed like a good way to bring about an improvement in results and put my previous mistakes behind me. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. At the end of the role, I attempted to rewind the film without turning the release lever on the front of the camera body. Once the tension on the rewind crank became too much the role snapped. Without a dark bag I opened the back of the camera to investigate and ruined anything which might have been salvaged.

Having tried two lenses and three different film stocks it was the OM10 which had to take the rap for this latest failure, and I sold the camera for about the same price I paid. To share the blame amongst my tools I never shot a roll of ColorPlus or XP2 again either.

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16 thoughts on “Olympus OM10 – It’s Not You, It’s Me – By Jay Ridsdale”

  1. So sad Jay! I never got on with the OM system either but that was just my preference for heavy SLRs like a Chinon Memotron or something. What are you shooting now i.e your camera film combination?

    1. Actually I still have an OM2 but my current cameras of choice are a Nikon F75 for portraits and a Canon Sureshot A1 (waterproof compact) which comes with me to most places especially on holiday. I recently purchased a much hyped Chinon Auto 3001 but the first roll was a disappointment. If I can get it I try to shoot Portra.

  2. To be fair, I think the OM10 performed as it should. The exposure metering seemed generally to be ok given the setup. I think they are good little cameras for people trying film for the first time. Believe me, three rolls learning to use an 70s analogue SLR for the first time is pretty good!

    1. This was my take-away, as well, especially concerning the “issues” with the final two rolls. Everyone needs at least a small adjustment period with a new camera. The overexposed XP2 shot is lovely, IMO, and there’s no way the OM-10 should “take the rap” for the user error re the rewind button. I can’t imagine how hard you must have cranked, Jay! :O

      I liked the OM-10 well enough to dive into the actual Maitani designed OM cameras, eventually picking up and falling in love with a few OM-1n and OM-2n bodies. The Zuiko glass is as good as everyone says, and I hope Jay at least kept the 50/1.8 for his OM-2. I’m hoping to stumble upon an XA2 and an PEN-FT in a thrift shop someday.

      1. I totally agree with both you and Steve Curzon. If OP felt like the OM-10 was a fraud for not allowing full manual control, then why did they buy it in the first place? Also, complaining about being a mostly plastic, consumer-oriented camera makes me wonder if they did any research at all before purchasing the OM-10. Because OP said this failed trial with the camera occurred during the summer of 2016, not 1976, there are many easily accessible online resources where they could have learned this information before being disappointed by the camera they themselves decided to buy, in addition to the technical data that would have shown them what the max shutter speed of the camera is, so they could avoid the overexposed images taken in full sun with lens wide open. Not only that, but there are many camera manuals available online (https://www.butkus.org/chinon/olympus/olympus_om10/olympus_om10.htm) and it doesn’t sound to me like OP bothered to read any of them. Sometimes a camera isn’t a good fit for a person, due to ergonomics, shooting style, weight, etc. But ignorance of a camera’s functions and misuse of the equipment is not in the same wheelhouse. It’s too bad OP didn’t get shots with the OM-10 that they liked, and also the broken ROLL of film, but I don’t feel an overwhelming surge of sympathy for their position. At least they sold the OM-10 for what they paid.

  3. Actually, these photos look really good! Beyond that, and based on your story, I think your opening title says it all: “It’s you.” 😉

  4. Sad day, but it doesn’t sound like the poor camera did anything wrong! The frustrations certainly are part of the process with film. I have an almost full roll of film shot… only in my head… really great light, Lomography 100 color film, the colors were really amazing… but I didn’t notice the film wasn’t advancing properly! I couldn’t go back and reproduce it, those images never really existed except in my imagination and my view through the viewfinder.

  5. I wish that I had a dollar for every roll of film that I messed up through my own errors: not changing the ISO nob to the correct speed, not taking the camera out of shutter mode at 1/1000 sec in low light, forgetting to rewind the camera before opening the camera back (this one only a couple of weeks ago) and so on. I now have to watch out for forgetting to push the rewind button and breaking the film – definitely seems like something that I will do. That is what learning through the school of hard knocks is all about. But boy, when you nail it, it really is worth it.

  6. Wow. Painful! I have a real soft spot for the OM10. It was my first film camera (this time, the second coming of film) and took some amazing images with it. The of-the-film-metering and electronic shutter is faultless. The Zuiko 50mm 1.8, brilliant. The accessory manual dial, quirky. The form factor, tiny.

    It is a consumer camera. The build quality is not as good as the OM2 that I eventually upgraded to. The mirror slap is impeccably damped and counter-balanced in the OM2, which is very noticeable swapping back to the OM10. All things considered, the OM10 would top my recommendation list as a first film camera.

  7. I’m sorry you didn’t persevere with the OM10 Jay, your photographs are very nice.
    As a very long time film user I occasionally have the same problems when switching from digital back to film as there is more to remember with film cameras, whereas digital does it all. It just requires a little time to regain all those good film shooting habits.
    I have been using the same OM10 and OM20 for around 35 years with several Olympus lenses and have had no problems with any of the kit, so I think the continual references to “consumer grade” are not warranted. The OM10 and OM20 are easy to use due to brilliant design work, not to any lack of features.
    The lens I use most is the Zuiko 28mm/3.5, generally considered to be excellent by most reviewers, (and me). Using this combination I have a 30inch x 40inch picture on my sitting room wall.

  8. Like others here, I think you are being very unfair on the poor OM10. You resented the fact that it didn’t have manual settings out of the box, but needed a manual adapter, yet you take it to the beach with ISO400 film and start shooting with the lens wide open! By my rough calculations based on “Sunny 16s” you must have expected the camera to automatically set a shutter speed of 1/16000th of a second (or possibly 1/32000th)! I think you should go out and buy another by way of apology! Ha Ha!

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