my new toy, olympus OM-2N

Having discovered serious photography only a couple of years ago I really only know digital. I did have a much-used analog point and shoot since age 14 though and have always loved shooting black and white film.
I knew my dad had some analog SLRs somewhere and on my begging got them out for me. So here’s my newest toy:

It’s the Olympus OM-2N, an analog SLR from the late 1970’s and I am in love with it. Now don’t be fooled by its relatively small size and vintage look…this baby was the height of technology in its day and is still a serious and professional camera. But oooh, isn’t it cute, too?
And the even better news: there’s more where that came from! My dad not only has two more models of the OM-series but also a set of lenses in every size imaginable, most of them prime lenses! He was planning to be a professional photographer in his youth (guess it kind of runs in the family).
I chose the OM-2N because it comes with aperture priority as opposed to only full manual, which I thought would be easier as I am still figuring out the various knobs and manual focus. For starters I also took along a 50mm 1.4 and a 180mm 2.8 lens (sigh).
I shot the first test roll of film today and will be taking it to be developed tomorrow (provided I figure out how to rewind the film and get it out of the camera first). If the photos turn out anything close to how awesome it felt to shoot them I predict this Olympus and I are going to be very fast friends!

It’s funny how automated you become when you shoot a lot…the first couple of photos I found myself quickly looking at the black back of the camera and wondering immediately after why I was doing so. Then I understood I was looking for the (nonexistent) preview picture to see if I’d gotten it right first try.
I will be shooting mainly black and white film I think and I am so excited to get to know film in general and this camera in particular better. That said, I am still loving the digital world…I googled the camera just for fun and the first thing that came up was the complete manual as a free pdf – thank you internet!

26 thoughts on “my new toy, olympus OM-2N

    1. tidytipsy

      It’s so pretty isn’t it? I can’t stop looking at it :)) I brought my first roll of film away to be developed today and I’ll have the pictures by thursday. Also already bought a black and white film and took a couple of photos in the city.
      These are actually pretty easy to come by and sell inexpensively (for such a professional camera) on Ebay. Still, buying film and getting it developed it pretty pricey (at least here in Germany). Also it’s probably harder than digital because you have no instant check to see if you’re doing everything right🙂

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      1. bambooska

        I can’t stop looking at it either, it’s such a classic. I suppose I have to take a look around e-bay, I never bought anything from there… my father has. Prices aren’t that expensive, right? What else do you buy through e-bay? Was it / is it worth it? Let me know, I’d love to know.🙂

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        1. tidytipsy

          I’m not really sure what these cameras are exactly worth right now, but I think you can get them on Ebay for somwhere around $100 USD. And they are really well made professional cameras (actually I read somewhere that the Olympus OM series are among the best SLRs ever built). They usually come with Zuiko lenses, which are very high quality lenses. Those too can be picked up at Ebay very inexpensively (for example the 50mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.8).
          That said, you still have to buy film, get it developed etc. And the whole equipment is manual…no autofocus, no nothing😉 So you’d have to do a bit of reading on aperture, shutter speed, depth of field and all that (it’s not that hard though, there are great online resources for that…that’s how I learned as well).
          If you want a camera like that I’d ask around in the family first if someone has an old film camera for you to use! Maybe you can get one for free and don’t even have to buy one on Ebay!
          I only buy on Ebay once in a while, so I’m not really experienced there.

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  4. juliadevarsovia

    Hi,
    I got an Olympus OM-1 from my dad, had it cleaned and it’s such a great camera. I am using it only with the 50mm lens because, in my opinion, that a lot of self-discipline. I saw your Holg pictures too, I really like the shots of the horses.

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks Julia :)) The OM-1 is a fantastic camera as well (my dad has one of those too), these old beauties are so underrated nowadays! I read somewhere that the whole Olympus OM-series are among the best cameras ever built! And the 50mm is a great lens too🙂

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    1. tidytipsy

      Hi Anna, congrats on your new camera! What lens came with it? These old beauties are amazing and take wonderful pictures! I love mine and plan to use it more this year, though I don’t use it right now. It’s too dark outside and I am having lots of trouble finding high ISO black and white film.
      Have fun using yours and link back to your pics, I’d love to see them!

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  5. Ken

    I actually bought one of these new 30+ years ago. I’ve shot with a lot of different cameras over the years, but this is maybe my all time favorite! I look at the pic at the top of your post and can actually feel the camera in my hands again, and hear the soft sound of the shutter release. Amazing camera. And you’re right, it was (is) a very high-end, professional camera, as durable as any pro model twice it’s size and the first to use TTL flash and a sophisticated meter that actually measured the exposure while it was happening. To this day I don’t think another camera has been able to do that. It could actually do exposures as long as 2 minutes automatically. I had it on a tripod once, shooting a dark, pre-sunrise shot, and the shutter was staying open a long time – as you would expect with almost no light. Then a car came around the corner with it’s headlights on, and when the extra light hit the camera it stopped the exposure. The camera was actually able to see the extra light and knew to adjust the exposure – while the shutter was open and the mirror was up! Perfect exposure where any other camera would have been over exposed because of the unplanned additional light in the middle of the exposure! Enjoy your amazing piece of professional equipment. Great lenses too. You’re lucky your dad invested in the best – and kept it!

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks a lot for your comment Ken and sorry for the late reply! It really is a wonderful camera. I haven’t used it very much in winter but I really hope to get some nice rolls of film through it this summer. My biggest problem has been finding 1600 ASA black and white film, the shops simply don’t stock it anymore.
      That story of yours is amazing! I am so glad that my dad kept his old camera stuff, he always said he’d never sell it because he knew it was really great equipment and I guess it also hold great sentimental value for him. It reminds him of how he used to photograph rallye cars with those camera(s) in the late 70s when he was a young man.
      Do you still use yours from time to time?

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      1. Ken Burg

        I sold mine years ago when I pursued medium and large format photography. By the time I got back into 35mm, autofocus had taken off and Olympus didn’t make an autofocus camera at that point. But of all the different 35mm cameras I’ve used the OM-2 was my favorite. I hope to get my hands on one again soon and revisit film photography.

        If my memory serves me correctly, there never was a 1600 ISO B&W film. Color, yes, in both print and slides. But B&W jumped from 400 to 3200. Because it’s easy to shoot at different ISO’s and compensate in the developing (pushing and pulling) 1600 can be achieved. If you do your own developing I’d recommend one of the 400 films, rated at 1600 and pushed 2 stops. If you don’t, it will probably be difficult to even find a lab that will do it for you. In that case try a film like Ilford XP2, a very flexible film that can be developed in color chemistry (C41) by any minilab.

        Enjoy photographing! If I manage to get an OM-2 I may come back and post again.

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        1. tidytipsy

          Thanks for the tipps! Yep, finding labs that actually develop b&w and push or pull films is pretty difficult (and expensive) these days. I did some home developing with b&w film last year but that was medium format. Not sure if I’ll give developing 35mm a try, it’s just so time consuming. It was a lot of fun doing it though.

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  6. claire benoit

    I have this exact camera with awesome lenses!! Think I’ll drag it out! Maybe I wont need a new did cam after all…my Kodak 3MP will be fine and fool around with this again !!

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  7. Jonno

    My dad bought one of these about 30 years ago. He still has it and I use it all the time, I love it. I recently got a D-SLR but I still love to shoot with film. I even bought another film camera for myself, but I still love the OM-2N, it’s an amazing camera.

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  8. tanjay romaca

    Can an OM-2N lens fit in all or some Olympus SLR digital cameras? If not all, is there a particular digital model? Brand or make doesn’t matter, just want to put my two OM-2N (black body & silver) to rest for a little bit, and try out a digital version.

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    1. tidytipsy

      Hi there, sorry no idea😦 I do know that you can use some Zuiko lenses on digital cameras using adapters, but I don’t know any specifics

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  9. Ken

    I believe that their micro 4/3rds system will accept Zuiko lenses via an adapter. This would include their new Pen series. Normally these digitals “double” a focal length, a 50mm lens would have the field of view of a 100mm lens for example. This is great if you like telephoto, having a 100mm 1.4 is cool. But not so great if you like wide angle, that 24mm ultra wide becomes a 48mm. I hear the just announced Pen EP3 is really nice. Good luck.

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  10. Greg

    That is a nice camera, the OM2n is my all time personal favorite. It is nice as you can use it in manual or auto; it just feels right in the hand. The auto is a very good Off the film light read so it reacts to changing conditions, such as a fire or get long exposures at night, it is particular useful in taking pictures of lightning, my favorite shoots are of storms and cities at night..

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  11. ale

    Hi! I just got this camera as a gift, will need to repair a couple of things first, but I was wondering if you could direct me to the manual you said you found, please? Thanks!

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