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OLYMPUS - OM-1 (1973-1974)

Reflex Mono-Lens

In 1972, the company Olympus produced its first camera under the designation of M-1 but quickly changed it in OM-1 due to a complaint from Leica which already used this designation.

Until then, the Olympus company was rather considered for its scientific optical devices (binocular magnifying glasses, microscopes, etc.).

For a first trial, it is a masterstroke!
This small 35 mm reflex camera is immediately approved by a large proportion of professional photographers.

Compact, light, silent, sturdy, perfect ergonomics and endowed with a list of characteristics and options which has nothing to envy to those offered by the traditional manufacturers such as Nikon, Leica or Cannon.

The Olympus OM-1 will open a new era for the reflex photography by inducing a new concept of camera. Among its numerous characteristics, here are the key ones :


The first thing which is surprising you with an OM-1 camera, is its hand grip.
Despite of its small size (136mm x 83mm x 81mm for a weight of 680g), all its controls are perfectly positioned under your fingers.


Have a look inside the viewfinder, it is brilliant! Normal, the image is 30% larger than any other reflex camera of the same period. The focusing is done using a frosted glass with prisms. In fact, 13 different focus glasses were available depending of the lenses used.


The curtain shutter is giving the following speeds : 1sec, 1/2 sec, 1/4 sec, 1/8 sec, 1/15 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/60 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/250 sec, 1/500 sec, 1/1000 sec and pause B.


In 1974 Olympus change its OM-1 in order to be able to use one of the winders. After this modification, the camera takes the new official designation of OM-1MD (Motor Drive). In order to illustrate this improvement, a small logo is added on the lower right corner of the front side.
Some OM-1 (as mine) have this improvement without having the logo MD.


To suppress vibrations when making macro-photography and also to allow the furious pace of 5 images per seconde with the option "Motor Drive", the mirror is can be tipped-up by turning a lever located on the left of the shutter.


Not yet an integrated computer for the time exposure but two CDS cells located on both sides of the viewfinder and directly measuring the light through the lens. These cells are calibrated for a sensibility from 25 to 1600 ASA.


The film advance lever is located on the top-right of the camera body. It is equipped with a security against double exposures. This security can be unlocked to release the film advance when rearming the shutter.


The OM-1 was offered with a set of 30 different lenses, all of a top quality, from the famous Fisheye 1:2,8 f=8 mm to the super telephoto lens 1:11 f=1000mm.

My Olympus OM-1 and I we have had a lot of adventures together and I do not count the thousands of photos I shooted with it ! I've gotten it for my 16 years anniversary (Thanks Mamy !). This is with this camera that I really started to make photography.
I have read and read again the Olympus catalogue, dreaming to offer me the "Winder" option or better, the "Motor Drive" one. Unfortunately, both were too much expensive for my young budget.

35... 100... 300.
According to the well known rule of the ratio of 3 between each lens that a true photographer must have, I've bought this camera with a lens G.Zuiko Auto-W 1:2,8 f=35mm.
Later on, I bought the fabulous E.Zuiko Auto-T 1:2,8 f=100mm. Finally in 1978, I bought 600 Francs in Andorra a telephoto lens Vivitar 1:5,6 f=300mm with a static Olympus fastener. Then, I realized the gap between regular lenses and compatible ones...

Don't look for that hunting camera's butt in the Olympus catalogue. It is a home made equipment made in 1978 using a toy rifle. Needless to say that I came home empty-handed several times !...

The shutter release grip came from the Agfa movie camera from my Dad.

As I was shooting a lot of photos with this camera, most of my fortune disappeared in the printing. Due to that, I decided to use only black & white films and I bought all the equipment to develop and print my photos (Developing tank Patterson, Enlarger Rohen, lens Nikon f=50mm).

In fact, each Saturday's evening, until late in the night, I changed the home's bathroom in a developing labo. I had such a pleasure doing this !...

A veteran of the WW1 and his grand-son - Armentière, France, 1977

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