35mm · Film photography · Photography

Goodbye OM-1. Hello OM-1N.

My Olympus OM-1 camera has suffered an annoying fault for a while now. After firing the shutter the mirror will sometimes lock up. Advancing the film drops it back down but the shutter remains locked and the only way to release it is to advance the film a second time (which shouldn’t be possible with the OM-1). When this second stroke of the advance lever takes place the camera also fires the shutter. After this it can be used normally again for the next shot. The problem means that every other shot is wasted – or mostly wasted as the problem tended to be intermittent.

Fot no real reason at all, I decided to look at the camera again today (without a film in it) and discovered that the issue now occurs on ever shot taken. I like the OM-1 – it was the first SLR I bough when I got back into shooting film cameras again – so I decided it would be worth trying to get it fixed. As the person who I’ve used for repairs and CLAs in the past has now retired, I tried a local repair shop that I’ve heard works on analogue cameras.

Upon phoning the shop, the guy there was quick to tell me that the repair would be costly and that I’d be better off using digital cameras. Rather than slam the phone down in disgust (:)) I explained that I enjoy the experience of using film cameras and that I’m not unaware of the issues that come with using vintage gear. He then mentioned that he’d had a box of stuff come into the workshop, including an OM-1 camera, which he would let me have for £40 sold-as-seen. £40 is a good price for an OM-1 these days so I headed over to the shop to take a look, figuring I could always turn it down if it looked like it might not be working properly. As it turned out, the camera appeared to be working as expected, including the meter, and was in great cosmetic condition so, after chatting with the guy for a while, I headed home with the camera – an OM-1N to replace the OM-1.

The camera probably needs new seals fitting, and it’s missing the hotshoe. I’d though that I could just swap over the hotshoe from my OM-1 (they just screw on and off with a thumbwheel), but it wouldn’t fit and it turns out that the design must have been slightly revised between models. Still, I’ve not once used the hotshoe on the OM-1, so I won’t miss it, and I’m more bothered by the empty screwhole on the top of the camera than any loss of functionality.

The other difference is that this replacement is expecting the original 1.3v mercury battery to power the meter accurately, whereas my OM-1 had been converted to meter properly using readily available 1.5v batteries. This means that I’ll either have to get it converted, or adapt zinc-air hearing aid batteries instead (I could use Wein cells, but these are much more expensive than the hearing aid cells). It’s a bit of a faff, but nothing insurmountable though.

I’ll get the seals replaces when I get the chance and then take it out for a test run.

Today’s picture is from back in 2018, when I took my original OM-1 with me on holiday to Sorrento, Italy.

FILM - American bar

Olympus OM-1,  Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 & Kodak Ektar.

Taken on 24 August 2018

8 thoughts on “Goodbye OM-1. Hello OM-1N.

  1. Sounds like you lucked out. 40£ isn’t too bad for an OM-1n these days. I hope this one serves you well. It’s a bummer your other one developed the problems it did.

    I’ve always been curious to try an OM-system camera, but the few times I’ve held one and played around with them I was driven nuts by the shutter adjustment being on the lens mount instead of a dial on the top plate. That’s such an odd design choice, in my opinion. But who knows, maybe it’s actually a better design. I’m just used to the traditional shutter dial.

    If you have experience soldering, you can probably modify the light meter circuit yourself easily enough simply by using a diode with the proper forward voltage to drop 1.5V down to 1.3V. It would be a lot cheaper to do it yourself than to send it out.

    Those Ektar colors sure do pop! Ektar isn’t my favorite stock, but that’s undeniably a beautiful photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the OM system cameras, but agree that the shutter speed dial is not the most ergonomic. I’ve used the cameras for years and still end up taking the camera away from my eye sometimes to make sure I’m turning it correctly. They’re very compact in size though, which I like – compared with the Minolta SRT-101 I have, the OM bodies and lenses are much smaller.

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  2. The original OM1 probably “just” needs a service; the sticking mirror/shutter needs ungumming, though I’d steer clear of that repairman, who, amongst other things, is too lazy to make twice that on ebay! The 1n added a flash ready LED in the viewfinder, hence the extra pin fitted to hot shoe. I never really liked the shoes; far too weebly and invariably crack.
    I do like Ektar!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Nigel. Unfortunately, the mirror / shutter issue is more significant than it just getting gummed up. I’ve enquired about a repair from somewhere else today but, while I expect they would do a good and thorough job, is way more than I’m willing to pay – the best part of £175! I might see if I can get a cheaper quote, but I expect that I’ll just sell the old OM-1 as spares/repairs to cover the cost of the replacement I picked up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it will need the mirror box pulling out, and everything cleaning and relubing. Timewise it will make it quite expensive, though a fully CLA’d body compares well with buying the equivalent on fleabay…… old cameras are SOOO expensive now!

        Liked by 1 person

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