The Olympus OM system was unleashed upon the world in 1972. Olympus released two ranges of cameras side-by-side from the late ’70s, a professional range denoted by their single-digit names and the consumer range which had the double-digit monikers. Both ranges were able to take advantage of the full complement of OM series lenses.
The feather in the OM line’s cap at the time of release was the size of the bodies. At that point it was the smallest system camera of the day. The bodies are remarkably compact and incredibly well-built, without being too heavy. In fact – aside from the Asahi Pentax 110 – SLRs never really got smaller than the OM line, they pretty much set the standard.
The Olympus OM10 is from the consumer range, produced from 1979 until 1983 when it was replaced by the OM20. The OM10 is an aperture priority camera, meaning that you set the aperture on the lens barrel and the camera will select the right shutter speed – a handy indicator inside the viewfinder displays the current shutter speed. The OM10 also has a separate Manual Adapter, which allows the camera to operate fully manually. For my money, that makes the OM10 the perfect stepping stone for moving from aperture priority to fully manual shooting, without having to cough up for another body.
Shooting in aperture priority, the OM10 will give you a shutter speed range of 1 second to 1/1,000th of a second. There is also a bulb mode for long exposure photography, while turning the mode dial to M allows you to either control the shutter speed with the adapter if you have one or, use a fixed shutter speed of 1/60th of a second for flash work if you don’t have an adapter. The focusing screens on the OM line are superb. Large and very bright, giving an excellent view of the subject. They are also interchangeable.
The OM10 was my first SLR and I love it. They are dirt cheap – a body plus the OM.Zuiko 50mm 1.8 lens can be found quite readily for around £15/$20. Expect to pay another £10/$15 if you want the Manual Adapter. This makes it a really attractive entry into the OM system, giving you access to a range of excellent quality, well-built and compact film lenses that are also extremely versatile when adapted to M4/3rds.
The price of these bodies means that you don’t have to be overly bothered about breakages as replacements or parts cameras are so cheap. Or better yet, buy a spare body and load one with black and white film and the other with colour – the Olympus-OM10-world is your lobster!
I love the image quality I get from my OM10. There’s a lovely warm rendering to the colours when paired up with the OM.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8. This warmth is, of course, something that Olympus is famed for.
Here’s a few examples from my OM10:
What budget cameras would you recommend for starting out? Let me know in the comments.