Monday, June 21, 2010

To the Heights of the Olympus Mount

I confess that after all these years, I had yet to actually use an Olympus OM-series SLR. I have several friends that given high praise to the OM series, and I have repeatedly read about the wonderful compactness of the Olympus OM-1 SLR. Last Friday I picked up a box of cameras that had been donated to the Michigan Photographic Historical Society (MiPHS). In the box, among the digital P&S Canons, the Kodak Autographic, the Instamatic 100, and other items was a brown never-ready Olympus camera case. I opened it, and inside was a nearly impeccable OM-1 with 50mm 1.4 Zuiko lens and the matched lens shade. Except for the non-working self-timer, the camera looks like it was bought yesterday. I figured that I might as well use the camera for a while before selling it for MiPHS.

I believe Olympus built a nearly-perfect SLR for its time. Yes, I am a camera gearhead, and appreciate mechanical cameras, but I wasn't prepared for the joy of using the OM-1. Would I have loved it as much if the camera had been a beater? Hard to say, but this one is really nice. I put in a fresh 625 hearing aid battery, a roll of Kodak Gold 100 (yes FRESH film this time...see previous post), and shot the roll in 24 hours, mostly around the yard and at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. There is also a mint 50mm 3.5 macro lens in a case that I tried out, and it worked very smoothly and was fun to use on flowers in the garden.

Results speak for themselves. In operation, the camera was like a Nikkormat that went to finishing school. The aperture and shutter speed control are located on the lens barrel and lens base and are operated with the left hand, resulting in not having to look away from the camera or move the right hand except to fire the shutter. Slick. Match-needle metering, which is my favorite. I'm not a fan of the green and red LEDs on the Nikon manual cameras. Shutter sound -- quiet. The stop-down DOF lever is right where my finger can find it on the lens. Really easy.

Flamingo Flock

Raspberries and ice cream


Do I really need yet another SLR system? I can envision the OM-1 as being a perfect street camera with that 50mm 1.4. Maybe I need therapy. No, the OM-1 is a lot cheaper than a visit to the doc. I guess I will have to sell something to buy it, and that Nikkormat FTN is looking kinda forlorn right now... Go ahead, try and convince me that I don't need it.

Just for reference, in case you don't know...
Modern Classic SLRs - Olympus
Official Olympus site

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Umm, where was that film?

Last week I obtained a like-new Pentax K1000 SE from my neighbor. Wanting to give it a quick try-out, I shot a roll of C-41 film over the course of a couple of days. Now, I am pretty good about keeping long-expired film away from my every-day film stash, but it's obvious that I should have had second thoughts about the roll of Kodak Gold 200 that had some special logo in the canister.

This was the best photo on the roll! Shot on a sunny day, and it looks like evening. Grainy, lack of contrast. YES, that is long-expired film, alright. At least I had the foresight to just have the film developed with no prints or CD. So, while there are some films that can sit around for many years and give decent results, color films, in general are not them. I have no idea where I got the roll of film, but it was probably from the remains of someone's old film stash. Lesson learned. When testing out a camera, use fresh film.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Film is Fantastic

Lest anyone think that my latest photographic trip was a digital fusillade with the Canons, I did manage to shoot over a dozen rolls of film. I still have some half-shot rolls left in a couple of cameras that will eventually get processed. The b&w rolls will probably get done next week. The C-41 color has all been processed and scanned at the lab, and I am quite pleased with the results from the Canon A-1 and The Elan II. A roll from the Yellow Peace Camera (aka Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim) came out fantastic, as did a roll from the 35mm Holga, and The Minolta 7s.

One of my favorite shots from the Canon EOS Elan II was that of the old pilings at Lower Harbor in Marquette, taken not too long before sunset. I used Kodak Gold 200 -- really a very good all-purpose film. The lens is a cheapo Sigma 70-210 EF (film only) lens that I picked up on ebay for less than $50.


A few days earlier, I shot some Ektar 100 in the Canon A-1. The trip to photograph Canyon Falls in Baraga Co. was definitely very much the right decision, as the lighting was good, and the water flowing. This shot was with the Canon 100mm 2.5.

Sturgeon River

The "Yellow Peace Camera" worked far better than I expected in a variety of conditions, attesting to the latitude of 400 ISO Kodak color film. The images definitely have a special look to them.

What would a trip to the UP be like without a photograph of a sign that is sure to elicit a few smiles...