Olympus OM-2n

My OM-2n fitted with the Olympus 50mm f/1.8. Next to it is the Olympus 28mm f/3.5. Note how compact it is.
My OM-2n fitted with the Olympus 50mm f/1.8. Next to it is the Olympus 28mm f/3.5. Note how compact it is.

As soon as I held it in my hands and looked through the viewfinder, I knew I had to have it. The OM-2n is the second generation aperture-priority and full manual pro-grade body in the OM line. In tandem with the fully manual OM-1n it gained features such as full motor winder/motor drive capability and viewfinder indicators for flash status, which were absent in the preceding OM-1 and OM-2.

Through the hedge at the breaker's yard, Carisbrook, Dunedin. Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Through the hedge at the breaker’s yard, Carisbrook, Dunedin. Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.

Though I only own an OM-2n, my experiences with it apply to the wider OM series, too.┬áThe unique selling point of the series was the combination of compactness with uncompromising optical quality, rugged construction, and that viewfinder. The OM series viewfinder is the largest and brightest of any 35mm format camera I have ever used. Tie that in with informative feedback from the lightweight controls, and you have a camera that is a sheer pleasure to use. This led to the system finding favour with many professionals, including none other than David Bailey (worth a Google search if you’re unfamiliar with him). Nowadays, I believe the most attractive feature is the price point; I picked up mine with an Olympus 28mm f/3.5 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 for barely a three figure sum. All that was required was a general clean, and replacement of the perished foam light seals with black felt and black wool. Adding in the Olympus 50mm f/1.8, Soligor 70-220 f/3.5, Olympus OM Winder 2, Olympus T20 flashgun with extension lead and Metz SCA adapter to run my Metz flashguns, the whole system has cost me well under the four-figure mark, without sacrificing capability or quality.

Taieri Historical Park, Outram, Dunedin. Tokina 17mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Taieri Historical Park, Outram, Dunedin. Tokina 17mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.

If you want a loveable, usable classic camera, look no further than the Olympus OM line. With reasonable prices, a broad range of options, and decent availability, it’s a rational choice that also satiates irrationality. If you’d rather avoid the film component, you can experience much the same joy with the OM-D (which I waffled about here). Either way, you’ll be smiling when you’re taking photos, and smiling when you see what you managed to take.

Taieri Historical Park, Outram, Dunedin. Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Taieri Historical Park, Outram, Dunedin. Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Overhead crane at the Hillside Railway Workshops,  Dunedin (no longer operating). Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Overhead crane at the Hillside Railway Workshops, Dunedin (no longer operating). Olympus 28mm f/3.5, Kodak Ektar 100.
Railway footbridge at sunset. Soligor 70-220mm, Kodak Ektar 100.
Railway footbridge at sunset, Dunedin. Soligor 70-220mm, Kodak Ektar 100.
Old boat, Ravensbourne, Dunedin. Olympus 50mm f/1.8, Kodak Ektar 100.
Old boat, Ravensbourne, Dunedin. Olympus 50mm f/1.8, Kodak Ektar 100.