Olympus OM1n Review

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John Orrell.'s review of Olympus OM1n

★★★★★

“The Olympus OM1n 35mm camera redefined the look,...”

Written on: 08/04/2002 by John Orrell. (1 review written)

Good Points
Timeless classic design that redefined the shape and size of SLRs at its launch in 1972, sending everyone else back to the drawing board; built to last a lifetime; has all the necessary controls and no more; will operate without batteries; big, clear viewfinder belies the camera's small size; film-rewind button on the front of the camera so a film can be rewound while the camera is attached to a motor-drive or tripod

Bad Points
Weak detachable hot-shoe; 1.35V mercury batteries are now hard to get

General Comments
The Olympus OM1n 35mm camera redefined the look, handling and size of SLRs in the early 1970s.



Owned by famous photographers such as Patrick Lichfield and Chris Bonnington, its durability was tested to destruction. It passed.



Bolt one of the excellent Zuiko primes to the front of its durable metal body and you'll have a camera with a simplicity and quality that's hard to beat.



The large-as-life viewfinder (with split-image focussing) shows only the image you're taking and a needle within a simple + and - scale to let you know when you've got the exposure bang on. Metering is center-weighted. The focussing-screen is interchangable through the lens aperture. Mirror-lockup is provided via a switch on the side of the lens-mount.



Unusual design traits are the detachable hot-shoe (not to everyone's taste) and the shutter-speed ring round the throat of the lens-mount, which makes setting the shutter-speed, aperture and focus a simple left-handed operation while the right hand prepares for the correct moment to fire the shutter.



The mechanical shutter will be music to the ears of anyone who appreciates the sound of fine mechanical engineering in motion. At the time of its launch, this camera had the quietest, most shock-free shutter of any SLR available.



With only the minimum controls needed and nothing more, its a pleasure to use. If this camera were a Hi-Fi amplifier it would have only a power switch, a volume control, an input for your CD player and an output for your speakers, but the sound would be incredible!



Without doubt a timeless design, which has been voted by numerous photo-magazines world-wide as "the SLR of the century".



Buy one and use it, before they all end up in glass cases like early Leicas.

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20093_Phil.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 18/04/2002

I don't want to go as far as to say I venomously disagree (which is why I haven't clicked the disagree button) but I think Mr Orrell is a little high on nostalgia pills. Was it really a design classic? Did it really change the way 35mm cameras evolved? Hmm, I think the jury's out on those claims!
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<br>When the OM1 was launched in the 1970s secretaries the world over were writing letters using clunky mechanical typewriters. Thirty years later, I would not advocate using a typewriter instead of a modern PC any more than I would advocate using an OM1 instead of a modern SLR.
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<br>My feelings are the exact reverse of Mr Orrell's: I would say yes, buy an OM1, but ONLY if your ARE going to display it in a glass case with your early Leicas. It's place in history is debatably secure, but then again not as assured as that of a Model T Ford, and while there may be a certain charm associated with driving 30 miles to work in a Model T Ford I think the majority of us would be rather more suited to a Mondeo!

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Carl Sanders's Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 24/06/2009

This was a beautiful little camera and would still be used to day if it was in production. It should be turned into a digital 'full frame classic' similar to the recent half frame 'Pen', so that we can still use them. The OM1n was a little fragile, dropped on a rock it refused to function. The OM2n which we had as a replacement was just a joy to handle and use. The aesthetic design is still better than any of todays digital or film cameras, small, compact, light, a couple of these were easy to hang around the neck, even with motor drives. Bring them back : )<br/><br/>On another note, these classic looking cameras, including the Leica and 'V' system Hasselblads are still very much in use, film or digitised, (2009) so not sure what one of the commentators is talking about.

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Bremner8's Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 21/05/2004

Like many people my first try at decent photography started with an OM10 and manual adaptor. I loved it! Scotland, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales were all lovingly recorded on a surprisingly good camera. At the time many of the camera reviewers seemed to look down on Olympus. This attitude was no doubt instilled by the fact that most big professional photography users had started with Nikon or Canon and simply continued purchasing more of the same. Olympus was a junior and unfairly so.
<br>After a few years with my baby OM10 I took the plunge, with a Dixons Payment Card! and bought an OM2n. So simple, so clear, so understated...Once again love at first snap. It fell to an ex girlfriend to complete my set. She almost gave away her OM1. Luckily I jumped in and rescued it.
<br>Since those days I have ventured into other territories. Second hand Nikons..The FM2n and an F601 Manual were great fun. However, I am nothing if not faithful so whilst the Nikons have been recycled the Olympus trio remained with me until the fateful day they were nicked from a 'safe box' in a friends car. I will have to scour my local shops again but now the days of credit cards are drawing to an end it may be some time.

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Robclements's Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 03/12/2003

Having had a break from film cameras for a while, I decided to get myself an OM2 and OM1 again to have a go with film once more after using digital. I now know for a fact that a 35mm SLR can get results better than ANY digicam (my digital by the way is a Canon EOS D60, so is no poor quality item). I had Olympus cameras many years ago and have viewed them with the old rose tinteds, but having got a couple again, I now realise just HOW GOOD they really are. Bulit as almost bomb proof and still in perfect working and cosmetic order after 28 years in the case of the OM1(25 years for the OM2). I wonder if the D60 digicam will be ok in 2030?
<br>The Olympus OM series really was a revelation for SLR users back then, and I believe they are classic cameras that can still EASILY cut it today.

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96437_Skkibunny.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 10/05/2003

Back in the late 70s, when I knew I wanted to become a professional photographer, I couldn’t afford Nikon, and, besides, found them rather large and heavy. I bought into the OM system after seeing some remarkable 16x20s shot with a Zuiko prime and OM1. I have still have five OM bodies, from early 1s through to the later 2Ns and ‘Spots. I soon learned to tape over the marque badges, though, as, often Art Directors would become a little queazy if they thought I wasn’t using Nikon. I’ve had both advertising and editorial work run in all the major UK glossies which was produced using these unassuming little cameras and their wonderful optics, but I kept quiet about their use.
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<br>In the late 80s, I switched to 6x9, and the Oly’s found little everyday use, but I still have them, and they are as good today as ever. With the advent of digital, I am now locked into the Nikon system, and it has been a surprise (and often an expensive one) to find that there is such a variation of quality across Nikon’s range of optics. Whereas, with the OM system, I never found that I bought a lens only to discover it lacking in crucial performance. I can’t say this of Nikon (viz the 80-400 VR, which we refer to, here, as “The milkbottle”...)
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<br>A plus side of the mass market move to digital is that OM systems are now hitting the secondhand market in large numbers, and it’s an excellent time to snap up some fantastic Zuiko glass at knockdown prices.
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<br>I can’t bring myself to part with my tiny OM’s, winders et al - and I expect to die and have someone in the retirement home find them still tucked-up inside an ancient, moth-eaten Billingham’.
<br>
<br>

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84377_John.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 29/03/2003

Andy unless you're using zinc/air cells the 'modern 1.35 volt' batteries to which you refer are more than likely to be 1.5 volt alkaline cells and will cause your meter to over-read and hence under expose. Also their voltage-drop - as they get older - is non-linear and unpredictable, so you never know how much to compensate. Instead, use zinc/air hearing-aid batteries from Boots. These offer a similar performance and voltage to the old mercury batteries that the camera was intended for.

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84293_Andy.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 29/03/2003

I first bought an OM10 when I was 14. I bought some cheap lens and so began my love of photography. As a pro photographer for 8 years, I've had many cameras since including Hassleblads, Canons and Mamiyas, which I still use.
<br>Recentely though I bought a mint Black OM1N with a 55mm f1.2 and a 28mm f2.
<br>You cannot compare this camera to any other Olympus bar om2n. It's small compact and feels great to shoot with. It's with me 24 hours a day and the quality of the lens is unbeatable.
<br>It's been nice to return full circle to olympus after all these years. I wish I'd had the advice to invest in one at the beginning.
<br>Modern 1.35v batterys are really easy to buy so
<br>I'm sure this camera will stay with me for a long time yet!
<br>www.andyfallon.com

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47898_Rob.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 03/11/2002

I have an Olympus OM1 as one of my SLR's. Although it may be old, this is my camera of choice to carry around with me. Takes great pictures, really tough constuction (except the shoe for the flash, though I still have the original one from when I got the camera), plus I have found this to be one of the easiest cameras to service in the field.

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32675_Ronnie.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 11/08/2002

At the age of 16 I aspired to an OM2n... alas without the cash to achieve that aspiration I settled for an OM10 instead, which served me well over the next decade and a half. In the mid 90s I saw a second hand OM1n for what I considered to be a reasonable price, after a quick once over in the shop I produced the readies and it was mine, and has become my first choice SLR camera. Built like a tank, it handles more like a sportscar and before long my trusty OM10 was relegated to backup "film back" body. Incredibly, almost 20 years after my OM2n aspirations, a chance look in the shop windows and I saw one just waiting for me to go in and get it... now I have the 'set' as it were and the OM1n and OM2n have become my stalwarts; with the build and durability of these true classics I expect to still be using them when film becomes the exception rather than the rule!!

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Darrel Sabin.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 21/06/2002

I was given an Olympus OM2n by my father on my 11th birthday. He tought me the basics of photography and I have now continued by doing a photography degree. The camera means alot to me mainly for centimental reasons. I have heard nothing but praise for this camera ever since I was given it, mainly about the quality of results it produces and its unique design. Your review has concluded what I have always thought about Olympus SLRs. I know people who have purchased OM10's and thought that they were of the same standard as mine but I had a feeling that this was wrong. In light of my OM2n's value to me I have decided to purchase an OM1n for holiday use, mainly because I can't bare those awful compact snaps especially when on many occasion I am surrounded by many potential great memories. Thankyou again for your valid opinion.
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<br>Darrel Sabin

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23451_John Orrell.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 13/05/2002

I'm glad you liked my review Simon, but I think it's a little unfair to compare an OM10 to an OM1. The OM10 was an aperture-priority beginners' camera and at the time was the cheapest way to buy into the OM system and use those excellent lenses. It even included off-the-film metering from the OM2. It wasn't built as well as an OM1/2, but then again Olympus didn't imagine that it would be put through the same punishments. The OM1 is an all-manual mechanical workhorse built to last forever. None the less, I'm glad you like your OM1 and wish you many years of pleasure.

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Simon Groves.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 11/05/2002

I agree, I originaly purchased a OM10 to use along side my Olympus SP35 Rangefinder camera when I started my photography course but found this unsuitable for what I needed as I soon outgrew its limited features (due mainly to the camera not having the optional manual adapter therefore being stuck with apperture priority mode) and wanted a OM 1n or OM 2sp. In my local camera specalist I kept seeing a OM1n (chrome) in mint condition complete with Olympus "ever-ready" case (probably why it was in mint condition) every time I went there, a few months later I had saved up enough for another camera and It was still for sale so I snapped it up for £150 and havent regretted it (unlike the OM10 which I have since sold)

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20736_John Orrell.'s Response to 18466_John Orrell.'s Review

Written on: 22/04/2002

Phil,
<br>
<br>You are of course entitled to your views as much as the next person, and firstly may I take the opportunity to thank you for expressing them. I note that you say you do not wholly disagree with my opinions about the camera, and that of course is good. What I don’t like is the overall inference that anyone who chooses older technology in favour of new is some kind of technophobic simpleton.
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<br>Your analogy using a Model T Ford is inappropriate. It may be a true classic, but you’re perfectly correct in observing that a modern alternative is almost always going to be more practical. I don’t think the same can be said of the OM1, or any other old or modern mechanical camera. There are occasions when a modern auto-everything camera is less practical to have around your neck than an older manual type.
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<br>Your comments homogenize owners of new Nikon FM3s, Leica M7s, Hassleblads, field cameras and their ilk into some kind of quaint family of prehistoric has-beens who need to get their heads out of 20th century sand and smell the fresh air. That opinion is wrong. Owners of such cameras will find your comments shortsighted, as do I.

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