Back in January 1981, I was in my final year at university, and after a Christmas holiday spent doing an incredibly boring job, I had more than the usual student grant money in my pocket. Enough to think about replacing the Cosmic 35 camera which had been on long-term loan from my brother for quite …
In order for you to understand why this camera is so important to me, I’ll have to take you back in the mid-90s. It shan’t be a long journey, I promise. For those of you who were using a film camera in those years, the following story will be very familiar; for those who came after that into film photography, have a seat. Because yes, there is yet another “me and my cameras” boring story to be shared with people who heard it all before. I am not going to rant about what this camera does or not, no technical stuff because there are plenty other people, much more knowledgeable than I, who said all about it. No, this is a trip down memory lane, as it were.
William Eugene Smith, better known as W Eugene Smith is one of The Greats.
One of the greatest photographers of all time, a Magnum photographer famous mostly for his reportage work during and after the second world war. (If you’re unfamiliar, I’ve added some links below). Now this isn’t an essay on W Eugene Smith, I’m not an expert nor am I an art historian of any sort – I just know a few things about him and have been admiring his work for years. His work is very moving and very dark – Don McCullin in many ways reminds me of him – it seems as if the darkness in their soul was made manifest in much of the photographic work that they made – as if the darkroom was where their soul, as a disembodied entity, under the red glow of the safe light, was absorbed into and made it’s way into the photographic enlarger and immortalised onto the gelatine and silver print.
In the late summer of 2020 I started off a film challenge over on Dyxum. I planned to shoot a whole bunch of cameras including an OM camera. Now, my own OM-1, which is an early one, suffers from a capping shutter on 1/1000. On digging it out I was rather horrified to discover that the silvering on a pentaprism was flaking.
Scratch that idea. I knew my brother-in-law had a pair of OM2n cameras, so I asked him if I could borrow one… Unfortunately my timing was bad for local lockdowns. It ended up being over six months before he was able to pass a camera to me… But when he did, the aluminium case he handed over contained three Olympus OM-2n bodies.
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.