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Little and jewelled


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Little and jewelled

23 May 2020 8:32AM   Views : 418 Unique : 303


I have a dark secret or two in my camera drawer. (Cupboard? RoomÖ)

One of them is a camera that I bought because it was so much smaller than my Alpha 900, and I viewed it as being a travel camera: I duly equipped it with my sort-of standard range of lenses, from a decent wideangle to a mild telephoto.

And Iíve found Iím getting it out of a morning, when I need to illustrate this blog. Illustrating todayís blog will be harder, simply because Iíll either have to use a full-frame Sony, of shoot in infrared.
Oh, yes, the secret: itís an OM-D EM-1, Mark I: itís rather a lovely little creature, but much of the time, itís surplus to my serious photographic endeavours.


Being brutally honest, the images arenít as sharp as those from my full-frame bodies: and thereís no reason they should be, with 16mp against an Alpha 7Rís 42mp. But I strongly suspect that the difference never shows in the pictures I post on Ephotozine, where the resolution of the OM is halved, that of the Sonys almost quartered.

Things change: the big thing was that I moved from the Alpha 900 to Alpha 7 bodies, which are vastly lighter and less bulky. So, within a couple of years, the Olympus lost its big advantage: it was feasible to take the Soy kit everywhere. Gradually buying native E-Mount lenses has eroded the Olympus advantage further.


So whyís it a go-to for pictures for blogs, and articles? Itís a lovely little bit of kit: beautifully shaped and built, feeling solid and durable, as well as fast and effective. Itís the only camera Iíve ever used that I feel happy to use with a vertical grip (it happened that Olympus were giving these away if you bought an OM at the point that I got mine).

The Olympus prime lenses are tiny, jewelled delights, and they vary from good to outstanding. Iím particularly fond of the 45mm f/1.8, the cheapest proper lens in the range, and an absolute bargain (the lenscap fisheyes are toys, though nicely made and working well). The 60mm macro is incredibly sharp, and itís perfect for shots of cameras.

Would I buy one again? If I had the budget and the shoulder for a Sony outfit, probably not: but if my budget was tightly constrained, yes, like a shot. The results are as good as I need, and Ė this is a vital point for a hobby photographer Ė every exposure provides tactile delight. I have no intention of selling the Olympus kit, because it provides wonderful backup, and a very quick and easy way to take record images.

Looks the business, feels the business. And does the business.


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PaulCox Avatar
23 May 2020 11:58AM
Often I see cameras as engineering masterpieces and as a Mechanical Engineer see only beauty in all camera bodies and lenses I was a Minolta convert in the days of film, but when eventually I did change to Digital I went the Nikon road and have really never regretted that choice. However as time went on I was drawn to an Olympus E-P1 when they first appeared, then an E-PL1, later I tried a Panasonic G1 and a GX7 because of the availability of lens from the Olympusís. Last year out of curiosity I acquired an older Olympus Evoke E-500 and two Four Thirds lenses itís is only 8 Mp but takes fantastic photos, I also acquired an Evoke E-410 four thirds body much smaller and 10Mp but that also performs well. I really do enjoy you Blogs during this Lockdown, which still continues in Wales. Paul.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
23 May 2020 3:02PM
I haven't any experience of the pre-mirrorless Olympus models, but I've heard good reports.

Over the last five or six years, I've slowly been converted to mirrorless: I am now sure that it's the right way to go for just about every purpose.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
23 May 2020 3:05PM
And I have to say that I often struggle to see mechanical beauty in all-plastic cameras: some of them, especially the bottom-end late film models, strike me as being genuinely cheap and nasty. Metal, glass and some 'heft' help a lot!
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
24 May 2020 10:46AM

Quote:I haven't any experience of the pre-mirrorless Olympus models, but I've heard good reports.

Over the last five or six years, I've slowly been converted to mirrorless: I am now sure that it's the right way to go for just about every purpose.

Referring to your above comment and a previous entry about your Pentax Takamur lenses, I started photography using a beat up Zeiss Ikon folding 6x4.5cm folding camera and in around 1973 after two days owning a Zenit B that leaked light I swapped it for a Praktica SuperTL for which I bought a Pentax SMC Takamur 55mm. That lens and camera gave me stunning image quality on prints and slides. Then Olympus came along with all their advertisement claims of stunning optics and claims of 150 lines per mm resolution. So I bought an OM-1 when it first came out trading in my Praktica. I was gutted. As I could see the drop in quality even on 8x6 inch darkroom prints. But like most ended up staying with the brand because of all the kit. I've still got an OM-2 SP and maybe an OM-4 Ti and a box full of their lenses somewhere too. I do hope that Olympus pre-mirrorless digital lenses were good. As I never rated their film optics 😕
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
25 May 2020 11:20AM
I'm intrigued that you found Olympus optics disappointing: I have limited experience of them, though I did have the chance to use an OM-1 while I was at university. It was certainly smaller and lighter than my Spotmatic, though the different control layout seemed a bit odd. Sharpness seemed to match the Pentax, at least. However - and this may be the start of a long debate - I was comparing the f/1.4 Takumar and the f/1.8 Zuiko. So there is perhaps good reason that the Olympus lens should actually be better...
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
25 May 2020 12:40PM
I bought my OM-1 principally because of Olympus's previous reputation for microscope optics and the massive advertising and 'sponsorship' by well known names like Bailey and the Ron Spillman reviews. Maybe, as they say, I had a bad copies of the lenses: a 50mm f1.8 and a 135mm f3.5 Zuiko. I'd heard from many people that my previous Praktica SuperTL Takumar combination was as good as it got, and maybe that Pentax 55mm lens was a good copy and I was seeing the difference. But to highlight it, when I was shooting weddings back in the day if I had a family group of say 30 people (typically shooting at 1/250 @f5.6 on a cloudy day using Vericolor II and later Fujicolor NPS 160 and sent to a pro wedding lab) faces were never critically sharp. At the same time my fiancť's sister managed a camera shop for Camera Thorpe, if that old name rings a bell, and she was recommended to buy a Fuji ST601. Now that did have a sharp lens. Looks like I was either very unlucky with Olympus, or gullible and believed all the hype. I was certainly gullible later on when I bought a CitroŽn AX when they went full on with their claims of 75mpg and I only ever managed half of that! 😕
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
25 May 2020 1:19PM
.... I can definitely definitely vouch for how light the Olympus OM-1 felt in your hands. The bright viewfinder was ground breaking too. My sister in law had a Canon and looking though her eyepiece was like looking down a long dark tunnel by comparison!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
25 May 2020 8:36PM
I'm up for doing a practical test - if you (or anyone else) has a working Olympus that they'd be willing to lend me for a week or two, I'll do a side-by-side comparison. Drop me a private message and we'll make some arrangements.

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