“I think you’re getting obsessed” my wife said when I told her about my latest impulse purchase, an Olympus OM2n. It was to good of a deal to pass up! She’s right though.
I had fallen in love with my bequeathed OM2 SP, but wanted to have the manual interface and functionality of the OM1 as well as some of the auto exposure electronics that the SP has. The OM2n seemed to deliver it all.
A kit had come up on a well known auction site with a best offer option and a buy it now price of £100.00 including a couple of Vivitar third party lenses (28mm and a 70-200 zoom) as well as the standard 50mm f1.8, an Olympus flash, all in a retro semi hard case and with a brown leather “ever-ready” case. It looked lovely, caught up in the moment I offered, first bid refused, second accepted. Oops!
It all arrived safely, but with the potential for light seals needing replacement (I haven’t had this done as yet, and probably won’t till it’s absolutely necessary) and a sticky aperture on the 50mm all was well. After a full service on just the lens at Luton Camera Repair Service, all is now working beautifully. I’ve run a few rolls through this one so far, mostly colour, mostly Portra 400, making me even more impressed by the OM series generally. Since this addition to the family, I’ve picked up a bargain 50mm f1.4 as my standard lens, great for street portraits that I love doing when I get the opportunity. A couple are below.
The OM2n also has a few tricks up its sleeve too. Automatic slower shutter speeds up to 120 seconds for use in low light that you can’t get manually, for example. I’ve benefitted from the slow speeds on a dark workshop shoot in particularly low light that’s provided, in my opinion, satisfying results.
I have completely fallen for the OM range now. It is small enough to carry all day and a joy to operate, has one of the biggest, brightest viewfinders I’ve used, a smooth film advance and a most satisfying shutter sound. For the price these go for even fully serviced, I am smitten.
Now, how about looking for a nice OM1 to extend the line up…..
So having found a great shooting camera in the 35SP I needed a project. A new customer of mine for my day job was a very interesting factory. Based in the former EMI record pressing works, The Vinyl Factory is an independent vinyl record pressing plant, record label and all round creative hub.
I showed the MD my growing portfolio, and was granted access to start shooting. To begin with just the machines, but this soon started to grow into a major project. What started as an essay, had morphed into a book project and has continued to dominate my photography equipment purchases and thinking since, and still does till publish date.
For now, here are a few samples from the first roll of Ilford HP5 through the 35SP at the factory.
Since these pictures were taken in March 2017, I have returned at least four more times for whole days, building trust with the workers to shoot more documentary style work, that hopefully with build into a solid portfolio and printed book.
By this time I am almost completely I love with the rangefinder camera concept. They are small, light (ish) fast to shoot and seem to have very good lenses.
The 35RC is a great little camera, but I thought I needed more!
A Leica was out of the question, so digging around on the internet (there’s another hour gone) I settled on the 35 SP (Spot Program) Apparently the only rangefinder camera of the era to include Spot Metering, and has a seven element 42 mm f1.7 lens!
All this technical prowess really is worth the hype, its a great camera, takes sharp images and works in lower light, either fully automatic or manual mode using EV numbers, a little fiddly, but it does work.
Most of the shooting I have done has been in Auto.
Here is a few from the first roll of Ilford FP4. I went on to use this camera to start my Vinyl Factory project and a holiday trip to Teneriefe. More on both of those later.
I suppose at this point I have to do a ‘gear’ post. As this was the camera that started my film renaissance it seems right to share this.
Olympus Trip 35
The Olympus Trip is a simple fully automatic camera, no batteries required. Which is great. It has a hot shoe for a flash which I have never used. It has a great 40mm D Zuiko lens, a simple focus system (four distances, no rangefinder) and two shutter speeds, of which you have no control. All you can do is set the film speed, advance the film, set the focus distance and shoot. This is ‘zone focus’ at its simplest. If the light is too low or two high it will lock the shutter. Simple. Quite liberating really. My example must be nearly 40 years old, and still works perfectly. They are still cheap to buy. Last time I looked they were going for about £10.00 more if you want a fancy custom one with coloured vinyl covering. If you want to see what film can do for your photography, try one of these. Great fun.
So spurred on by the success of the Trip 35 shots at home and feeling the need to do something more challenging I decided that some real world docu-street photography was required. There are literally hundreds of people talking about street photography at the moment so I won’t elaborate on this genre here at the moment, check out those that do it more than me. It is a personal challenge. Taking pictures in a public place of buildings or objects is one thing but of people, unknown to you, on purpose, can make you feel very uncomfortable. So, a few from a trip into town with work, few local shots and more stuff at home to see what results I would get seemed in order.
I had a fairly productive time with the Olympus Trip that day, before the family shots I had been asked to accompany my son-in-law on a trial flying lesson. Perfect opportunity to try it out. Here are the best ones from that trip.
Read my about page to get a bit of background on this site and this post, but this is the picture set that made me fall in love with film again. Family photos of my granddaughter, grandson and my step-daughter with them both. nothing more, but the light in them I thought was wonderful. I was hooked. Ilford FP4 in an Olympus Trip 35. The one of my grandson was actually taken by my granddaughter!