My first experience with film started when my friend let me take some photos with her camera, one of which just struck me (to this day I think it is one of the best photos I have taken). After that, I remembered that at my parents’ apartment there is a point and shoot camera – Olympus Superzoom 700XB. It is extremely cheap and not so good, but it still worked. I took it to Barcelona for the holidays and shot two rolls of film there. When I got scans back – I got hooked.
So, I have been shooting film now-and-then for more than a year. And this June I attended a lecture on film photography for just-beginners from a local lab. At the time I already understood that a fully automatic camera is fine, except it doesn’t provide room for any creativity except framing and releasing a shutter. Moreover, at this lecture, I was among a few who showed up with a point and shoot camera, and it confused me – why everyone is starting with SLR? This also made me wonder about getting a better camera..
At first, when I started digging into a world of film cameras, I was a bit lost. SLRs, rangefinders, viewfinder, point & shoot, 35mm, medium format, large format – it was a complete mess. But day after day I was reading articles and things started to become clear. Finally, I chose a camera I wanted, and after three weeks of painful waiting, I finally got my Olympus OM-2n.
I actually ordered OM-1MD, however, the seller decided to upgrade me to OM-2n because of some problems with the shutter on OM-1. I hesitated for a day, but since they look almost the same, I agreed to the offer. I mentioned the exterior of the cameras for a reason — the Olympus OM-2n looks gorgeous to me, and this is exactly why I chose it. Every time I walk by my camera, I feel the need to grab it and just shoot nonstop – so beautiful and comfortable it is.
I think this is one of the most important things, especially for beginners. The only thing about the exterior I don’t like is a hot shoe – it is OK, though it ruins the camera’s prism shape to me. Thankfully, at Olympus, they understood it and made it possible to unscrew the hot shoe. That is exactly what I did when got my camera, and since I prefer not to use flash, I don’t miss the hot shoe at all.
A camera for everyday use
A lot of people know this website for compact cameras, so I will throw some numbers – my OM-2n weighs about 550 grams (with batteries and without lens), back when they introduced the first OM, in the early 70’s, its compactness and lightness were revolutionary. Do you think 500g is heavy? Now, think about that, Nikon F2 was introduced a year earlier and its weight is about 830 grams – so OM-1 wasn’t that heavy, I suppose.
For my hands this camera is a perfect match, it is easy to hold and easy to carry. I like to take the OM-2n everywhere I go, so I decided to make a paracord wrist strap, and it works fine – I leave the camera hanging on my wrist ready to shoot while wandering through a city. When I am commuting or just strolling without intention to make a photo I put the camera in a waist bag and I can still keep a wallet there. One quick tip, if you don’t plan to take a photo soon, do not advance a lever, because I lost a couple of exposures because of my inattentiveness. It is frustrating, trust me.
All being said, I still wish it were a bit smaller and lighter – but it is a high-end SLR camera and you get every feature you need and more in a small form-factor.
Is it any good for taking a photo?
If now you are thinking: “ok, you got me with looks, but is it any good photo-wise?”, then let me walk you through the process of making a photo with the Olympus OM-2n.
Before that, however, I should mention that this is my first SLR camera, and so I can’t compare it to anything except my Superzoom 700XB, but that would be unfair to both of them.
I’ll start with a viewfinder, and my, it is something. I know it’s praised a lot among film enthusiasts, but I didn’t understand why until I saw it with my own eyes. The finder shows you 97% of the picture – much more than the Superzoom. Previously, I had to crop photos – with this one, I see almost everything. I still crop some photos, but now it is intentional.
Using Olympus OM-2n, I sometimes miss a decisive moment, but that is because I’ve found myself preferring to shoot in manual mode. I do this for two reasons: to slow down a process and to think about a photo, and to control the exposure. Unlike some people, I like where Olympus decided to put the shutter speed dial on the lens mount – I find it helps me make adjustments quickly.
I like the quality of photos, even with the cheapest film stocks. My standard 50 mm Zuiko f/1.8 is fun to use either for street photography or portraits. Although the latter from time to time gives me a headache. When I shoot with wide apertures – I can miss focus just a bit. Though it is worth trying – the bokeh looks great.
I mostly shoot in daylight or golden hours, but I also like the aesthetics of night photography and I tend to explore it. That’s where I appreciate that aperture priority mode my camera has. OM-2n has a very good meter, it was the first of its kind. The light meter takes reading reflected off the film plane, and the shutter can stay up for about 120 sec. For now, I fully rely on it for night photography and have had reliably good results.
However, I admit that night photos are sometimes a miss from where I wanted them to be – I would like to have them a bit darker. They are not bad, but, you know, not fully “my style”. In the nearest future, I intend to make some manual exposures and compare them with auto exposures.
Is this my (anyone’s) final camera?
Before deciding to write this review, I never really thought about my Olympus OM-2n that much – mostly because it is easy and super fun to use. Great lenses, great viewfinder, astonishing looks, you name it. It’s not a flawless camera, unfortunately, but I think, its upsides are much bigger than the downsides. For now, OM- 2n is a go-to every day and every night camera for me.
Will it be my last film camera – I doubt it. As I am more into street photography, I would like to get Olympus XA and probably Pen-F, just to play with 72 exposures. However, I think I got my first and the last SLR, there is just no point in switching to something else,
And a couple of photos.
I love to use film to document the streets of my hometown and sometimes other cities. If you would like to see some other work made by this gorgeous Olympus OM-2n, please welcome to my Instagram @octo_ivans