I think it’s completely pointless to write a technical review about a film camera released 1972 now, and after all I’m not an engineer, nor a professional photographer so what you are gonna read now it’s just the personal opinion of a guy how wanted to learn photography the old way, with film.
It all started with me being bored… Overwhelmed by tons of things I didn’t know (and still don’t know) and all the internet buzz about new gear, fancy gear, useless gear I simply start to panic. It was clear from all those website that the only way to take good picture is to have 2 of the latest camera bodies and a set of fast lenses both zoom and primes. I was about to give up when I started to read about film cameras and the beauty of their simplicity. I found a way to experiment new things, learn something and not break the bank just thinking about new gear!
Now that I knew from where to start the big decision was about what camera to buy?
I knew what camera I wanted, a Leica M, simple! after all whom with an interest in street photography doesn’t? But I had no money so I had to find something cheap, relatively small and that I like; after all a camera is’s not just a tool, but also an accessory I have to wear around my neck and use all day long all my spare time, so yes, for me the form matters!
After hours and hours wasted on internet reading every single review available in internet about old film cameras and even more time on eBay reading carefully the descriptions of every single item I finally made my decision and bought the Olympus OM-1n (£30).
What do you need to know about the Olympus OM-1n?
That it’s a beautiful camera! It’s a sexy full manual camera with a built-in light meter, a bright viewfinder and a full metal body! It’s quite small and not too heavy and did I mention the sound of the shutter? It’s not clunky like Canon, Nikon or Pentax cameras, it’s delicate, smooth and quiet! I know most of the people are looking for a really silent camera for shooting on the street and with this camera you can hear the sound of the mirror flipping, but it’s so discrete and gentle that it’s a beauty to use.
Why do I love that camera that much?
It just feels right in my hands! There is no scientific explanation about my love for the OM-1n, but it’s something that happens to everyone I guess, I was lucky to find the camera that makes me want to go out shooting!
Is it a good camera for Street Photography?
There is no such a thing as a good or bad camera for any genre of photography, what is important is that you feel comfortable with the gear you have and you concentrate on making good pictures. What I can say about the Olympus OM-1n is that for me can work very well for street photography and for travelling as well…
The focusing scale on the lens make zone focusing very easy; shutter speed and aperture controls are both on the lens and can be operated quickly with your left hand and as I state before the shutter it’s not loud enough to give you any problem, especially if you are shooting outside.
The beautiful thing about the OM-1n is that it force you to be ready all the time, it makes you be more aware of your surrounding and the changes in light. While walking on the street you can start to see how light falls differently in different area, therefore you tend to adjust the exposure before you see the picture, so when you have to press the shutter the only think you need to check is the focus!
I accumulated and used a fairly good amount of film cameras in the last few years, but the Olympus OM-1n is the one I will always love to use! It comes with me on every trip, family event and every time a want to shoot film. I also bought the OM-2n with I gave to my little sister since I didn’t realy need it… (it has aperture priority with is quite nice, but not indispensable).
Here are a few pictures taken with my Olympus OM-1n: