Saturday, April 27, 2019

My Olympus OM-1 Film Camera


My Camera: An Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Photo Credit: ©2019. Perry J. Greenbaum

Photography has long been a hobby of mine. When I purchased a used Olympus OM-1 [with a 50 mm f/1.8 lens]—a 35mm SLR film camera—in the early 1990s, I became more serious about it, even taking courses toward (and almost completing) a diploma in photography at my university. Then I became busy with other obligations, notably increasing work and family responsibilities, in particular the raising of children. Consequently, the camera came out of the closet less and less. Much to my delight, I found my “old faithful friend” last month in my basement storage, hidden away in one of my packing boxes.

When I took it out and held it in my hands, I was immediately impressed by its weight, the sturdiness of its body and the over-all way it felt in my hands. I then instinctively looked behind the camera’s viewfinder and pressed the button to shoot a picture. There was no film loaded, and, moreover, the light-meter needed a new battery. The problem at hand was where to buy both, which is not as easy to do as when I first purchased the camera decades ago or as easy as it was even 15 years ago. (Olympus, a  reputable Japanese manufacturer, introduced the camera in 1972 and stopped making it in 2002.]

Much has changed in the age of the digital and the Internet, making analogue forms obsolete or rare, though there is a return to old-school formats—marketed at people like me, both young and old.

So, after a search on the Internet, I found where I could purchase a replacement battery (a Wein cell 1.35 V) for the original PX625 1.35V mercury battery no longer manufactured, some rolls of Kodak 400 colour film and some Ilford 400 b& w film. It was not and is not cheap to buy, but it is what I must do if I agree that memories have no price. As is having a fully manual camera in your hands, with only a light meter as your aid and the years of experience in photography to guide you.

There is a pleasure of shooting pictures the old-school way, which means taking time to learn the mechanics and art of the photographic process, which includes (re)learning how to see the world, more often than not at a much slower pace. This slowing down, perhaps, also makes one appreciate what is in front of you.

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