Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Olympus OM2(n) SLR camera - Preface

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The electronic Olympus OM-2 was first seen in a prototype form at the 1974 Photokina, that was two years after the debut of the original OM-1 which was a mechanical SLR. The OM2 was only began to ship and market in late 1975. The addition of automatic exposure functions of the OM-2 extends the OM system quest for functionality to a new level.

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It bears a strong resemblance to the OM-1 in external appearance, structure and mechanical function but has many very different features within the identical shell.

Despite the fact that it is an automatic-exposure version, it has the same body dimensions virtually similar to the mechanical OM-1 and is only slightly heavier (dimensions of the camera are exactly the same as those of the OM-1- 136 x 83 x 50 mm without lens). The few external differences are mostly confined to the film speed setting dial and the meter system on-off switch, which has four positions on the OM-2. But within the camera was a different beast all together when compared with the mechanical counterpart, in fact, both the bodies have, for the first time positioned Olympus Optical Co. LTD firmly on the driver seat as a forerunner in innovative camera technologies and enjoyed a hugely successful product cycle commercially.

Many would have positioned the mechanical OM-1 ahead of the electronic OM-2 for being spearheaded concept of compact-sized full scale system SLR, but personally, I would rate the OM-2 as a more influential camera than the OM-1 in the contribution to the course of development for SLR photography.

Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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Serious ? What makes OM-2 so special ? Other all those basic features which has attracted so many following worldwide, the revolutionary metering system pioneered by OM-2 was for the first time, a practical solution was presented to tackle metering in ambiance and flash exposure control.

, during ambient light reading in automatic mode, OM2(n)'s metering system reads light reflected from a special reflective pattern on the first shutter curtain and, during long exposures, from the film surface (Thus, exposure reading may not be continuous but exposure is). This system also avoids the Asahi-patented methods using memory circuits to store the meter reading after the mirror rises (well, most SLRs during that time have their photocell(s) positioned near the viewfinder eyepiece).

Basically, it is quite appealing even to a OM1 user because OM2 is just an OM-1 with so much MORE to offer. It operates exactly like an OM1 when the model selector lever is turned to "Manual", the viewfinder displays has same scale with a + and - as with the OM1. The auto exposure refines a new level of control to camera handling, where it enables a photographer to be more confident and responsive, and most often with much more accuracy to handle the many photographic situations. The TTL OTF flash metering, in particular, opens up a lot of photographic possibilities which previously involves tedious exposure calculation. The original method used in the OM2 introduced way back to 25 years ago has, today evolved into a mainstream flash exposure control method used virtually by all camera manufacturers.
Some of those proprietary technologies used in the camera has never been seriously challenged by any other SLR manufacturers evn until today. The Pentax LX of 1980 came
quite close to imitate the concept of TTL OTF direct metering method of which I thought it might turn into a serious contender to the OM system during the early '80 but strangely Asahi Pentax has decided only their flagship model, Pentax LX to adopt the system. The superiority of the metering system used in the OM-2 can best be interpreted in: It can meter in automatic mode up to 60-120 second (about - EV 5.5 - EV 18) ! An interesting feature is that in the automatic mode, the meter is actually a stopped-down type, although you can view the readout at full aperture. The exposure control system in automatic mode is of the aperture-preferred type (you set the aperture and the electronic shutter sets the shutter speed.

The Olympus OM System Accessories

The essence of the OM system is, every system components are being designed together and at the same time, there was no need for compromises to accommodate out-of-date units or obsolete mechanisms. Most of them were designed with back and foreword compatibility in mind and so any of your investment will not be going to waste thoroughly. Regardless it is a high speed Motor Drives, a slower power winder, one of 14 types of focusing screens, all those handy viewfinder attachments or as simple as an basic accessory such as a lens filter etc.. each and every system accessories will have no problem fitting into older or newer bodies except some extra features incorporated into newer camera bodies will be disabled when used with such older accessories.

Some of the original idea pioneered by Olympus was indeed, other than practical, but they are also very user friendly. For an instance, even though none of any Olympuses were fitted with an interchangeable finders feature, but they compensate such drawback with an interchangeable focusing screens so as to allow users to interchange them easily without having them to be factory fitted - What's big deal ? Well, competing models such as Canon A-1 which was introduced 5 years later than Olympus OM1would still require the user sending the camera back to the factory for changing the focusing screen ! ... the idea of interchangeable focusing screen with fixed finder through the lens mount pioneered by Olympus was also "borrowed" by Pentax for their pro-class Pentax MX in 1976; so did the Nikon's FE of 1978 (The competing mechanical Nikon FM series was eventually fitted with such feature only in a very late 1982 with their Nikon FM2 !)

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Don't let the compact size of the OM bodies fool you to think it is another SLR, because both OM1(n) and OM2(n) are a full blown system camera with top rated specifications to meet any professional needs.

<--It looks strange for a 250 bulk film back that comes without a fast motor drive, but the OM bulk film works both with slower 2.5 fps Winder and the 5 fps high speed motor drive.

In fact, the two bodies were the nucleus of the OM photographic system which has grown from strength to strength over the years until the AF revolution started.

Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

More importantly, OM2 takes the same range of lenses and accessories as the earlier OM-1with a few electronic flash units for dedicated TTL OTF automatic flash exposure control. These has made both camera complete a mechanical/electronic system configuration for the camera bodies. There are some noteworthy accessories such as a top rated 5 fps professional grade motor drive (1 & II) and 2.5 fps power winders (I & 2). To a lesser extend, with either a motor/winder attached, remote control and an additional film back option such as the 250 bulk film back is also possible. That perhaps summarize why the OM system, amidst the uncertainty of the AF/Digital evolution, still presents as a very sensible and logical investment for anyone who might be interested to have a "trial" with 35mm SLR photography. Well, on a personal note, I hope neither of my effort here is going to waste, just hoping all these info compiled in this site may able to benefit someone out there. I don't always encourage starters jump straight into bandwagon of autofocus SLRs. Why not just get a feel by sourcing all these cheap hardware from the secondary used market. In fact, it should be more fun and let you exercise your creative 'right brain' more often with manual focus camera. Best of all - it won't hurt your pocket too much. Oh.. don't worry too much, just remember - history was not all made by autofocus camera and lenses.

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Olympus OM-2(n): Camera Operations (9 Parts) | Other Issues (5 Parts)
HTML | PDF (48k) Main Reference Map: HTML | PDF (203k)
Olympus OM-2 SP: Camera Operations | Other Issues
Specifications: HTML | PDF | Main Reference Map: HTML | PDF
Olympus OM-1(n): Camera Operations (6 Parts) | Other Issues (5 Parts)
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Olympus OM-2SP: Camera Operations | Other Issues
Specifications | Main Reference Map / nomenclature

Shared Resources: Supplementary articles: TTL Metering, Depth of Field, Shutter Speed & Aperture
Motor Drive and Power Winder: Main Index Page (4 Parts)
Motor Drive 1 | Motor Drive 2 | Winder 1 | Winder 2
Flash Photography:
Main Index Page (4 Parts)
T45 | T32 | T20 | F280 | S20 | Qucik AUTO 310 | QA300, 200, 200S
Main Index Page (3 Parts)
Macro Flash Units:
T10 Ring Flash, T28 Twin, T28 Single, T8 Ring Flash
Databack 1-4 | Screens | Finder Accessory | Remote | Cases

Zuiko Lenses: Construction in progress..

Glossary of Photography
A good external source for
used Instruction Manuals for various OM SLRs and Accessories.

| Message Board | for your favourite Olympus OM-1(n) and OM-2(n) series models
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Site & Message Board Maintainers: Mr. Bruce hamm <bhamm@magma,ca>; Mr. Rick Oleson <>; Mr. Simon Evans <>; Mark Dapoz <>;Mr. Rick Oleson <>

Credit: My old time buddy, Ahmad Ikram, Dr of Rubber Research Institute (RRI), Malaysia who shares the same passion with me and also lending his OM-1n, OM-4 and the Motor Drive 1 to me for preparing some images in this site; Mark Dapoz <>for reminding some broken links; Mr Poon of Foto Poon, Ipoh, Mr Richard, Ampang Park, Mr Lim and Miss Jenny of Foto Edar for their generosity for their OM1(n), OM2n camera and some Zuiko lenses. Mr Hans van Veluwen for mistakenly using some content earlier from his OM website; J Sorensen for providing some useful images to rectify some technical "flaws"; Mr Gen Holst for helping during the early stages of development of this OM site; Mr KKLow for some of his earlier images on the OM-1appeared in this website; Miss Wati and Mirza for helping me to convert this Operation Manual into a HTML format. Mr MCLau for rectifying some mistakes made on the earlier preview sites. Site created 'unfortunately' again with a PowerMac. A personal tribute to the creator of the OM system and also a site dedicated to all the fans of Olympuses and Zuiko Optics worldwide. Some of the content and images appeared in this site were scanned from OM official marketing leaflets, brochures and instruction manual(s) for educational purposes. Olympus is a registered tradename of Olympus Optical Inc., Japan.