Olympus OM10

Olympus OM10

My thoughts on the Olympus OM10 – This camera must be one of the most popular SLR’s from the early 80’s. I believe it was released in 1979 and I think it was my 2nd SLR after the Zenith 11. It came to me in a strange way. I was working in a film processing lab at the time, and had brought a bright red Renault 5, from one of my colleagues. It sat in the garage for ages and then another colleague asked if I would be interested in selling it – somewhere along the line the idea of swapping it for an Olympus OM10 with its 50mm f1.8 lens seemed like a good idea and the deal was done.

The camera pictured is not the actual camera I owned back then, but one I borrowed recently to use for illustration! It did however bring back the memories! It’s mentioned in my previous post Canada 1988, when the batteries failed. It has an electronic shutter, with a magnetic shutter release. Especially on the OM10 it is prone to sticking. The worst thing you can do is put one away in the cupboard for ages and not use it – fire the shutter a few times a month.  Some of these issues were “fixed” by Olympus in a MK2 version.

Looking down on the OM10!

Anyway, the operation is simple enough. The power on/off switch extends each direction to include the self-timer and a battery check. If the batteries are Ok you get a beep and a red light. The other side of the prism is the ASA setting dial, and the selector for how you choose to shoot. B setting or “auto”  shutter speed (aperture priority really). The final choice is manual adaptor. If you owned one of these you could set the shutter speed manually, and therefore have full manual. It plugged in to the socket just to the right of the “S” of Olympus, and located on the post just underneath, when looking at the front of the camera. With the manual adaptor speeds were 1000th down to 1 sec. It was a focal plane shutter, which from memory was cloth based.

I remember it being very lightweight compared to the good old Zenith, but much smoother to use. My example had a circular scratch around the very edge of the lens that never seemed to affect the results. I always kept a spare set of batteries with me after the Canada incident. The manual adaptor was something that Olympus resurrected with the release of the (largely pointless) OM101 Power Focus, after that Olympus moved to digital I guess with the Camedia range of early digital compacts. We jokingly referred to these, somewhat unfairly as the Comedy range, with their huge 1 inch screen, fixed lens, and 1/3 mega pixel – yes in those days pixels were counted in their thousands not millions!! Olympus did return to the OM briefly I seem to remember with a OM2000 – which as actually made by Cosina, but still took the OM mount lens. In more recent times of course they now have the OM(D) cameras – that’s another story.

Time moved on for me and I eventually got the good old ME Super, which was either before or after a Cosina CT4 – I can’t remember what order!! I see a UK dealer is currently selling an OM10 with 50mmf1.8 and manual adaptor for £169! They seem to have increased in price these last couple of years, I’m not tempted. I do wonder how much a 1980’s slightly rusty Renault 5 would be worth now?

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