This was one of the last cameras I bought just before I decided not to buy any more cameras. I bought this one as I figured I should at least try one of these as it is the only OM I haven’t tried. Also, I heard the prism could be used on Om1s and I had a damaged one that needed a replacement. So I bought an untested body for that reason, but of course, I had to try it before ripping it apart.
A few reviews I have read lament about the rubberised grips on the camera, but I didn’t mind it. I love the brassing on my example. I put on a spare 50mm lens and went for a walk. I don’t know if you have heard but the UK has had a few storms lately, honestly, it has been a bit rubbish. So I loaded an old roll of Delta 3200. Then I decided to use a metal spool for the first time when developing it.
I practiced loading it with a spare roll first as I have only used plastic ones. When I thought I could load the film with my eyes closed, I tried to do it in a dark bag. All was ok, so I loaded my first proper roll ready to be developed. I failed. I didn’t know I had when I started to develop it, but it was obvious when I hung up the film to dry. I also tried a more dilute mix of developer than I am used to and a different way of measuring it. I figured, in for a penny, I might as well continue experimenting. I wasn’t too enthralled with the results, though I do think the misty trees have been enhanced by the grain.
Basically, I was using pyro51, which I have never had an issue with before. Every roll has come out ok so I had become complacent. Before I always checked the times given on the developing app I used with the times on the instruction sheet supplied with the chemicals. Seeing as everything was ok, I stopped doing this. And then the app was updated or something and the times no longer matched. I didn’t notice. I just assumed the film was expired or I got a bad batch of chemicals. I ended up chatting with the Zone Imaging guys and by bouncing ideas around I figured out the issue. The different times meant my rolls were being underdeveloped.
Ok, so the camera…using the camera was quite straightforward for the most part. The camera accepts DX coded film and has a program, auto and manual mode. At first, I struggled to figure out the difference between the program and the auto mode so I searched for a video online. I found this one, made by a friend and it made things a little clearer.
I also read this article, which made things even clearer. For my next set of shots, I kept the ESP on and set it to program mode. For the first roll, I wasn’t sure if the issues came from my developing choice or the camera under-exposing things. I hadn’t figured it out at this point. So I decided to put in another, fresher film. The new film, an XP2, would be lab-processed to avoid any of my own issues. I had intended to use it on a walk around Manchester, but the weather was a complete wash-out so I only took a few shots. Then I waited a while and finished off the film on a drive around some of the windmills in Lincolnshire.
The photos of the policemen and the hippo really show off the ESP function. When that is turned on, the meter takes readings from the middle and edge of the image. If there is a big difference it would use the metering from the centre of the image, hence no backlight issue. The first few images were taken with a 50mm f1.4 lens, the rest were taken with a 35-105mm f3.5 lens. I did that so I could try the zoom lens and get in all of the windmill sails.
To be honest, I think the auto mode has been miss-named. I think it helps to think of the auto mode as the aperture priority mode as that is kind of what it is. You set the aperture to the minimum you want and the camera chooses the best one up to that. So if you set it to F8 but the camera thinks there isn’t enough light then it will choose f2.8 for example. If there is too much light it will only go to f8 because that is where you set the limit. Or that is what I think happens. Whereas the program mode is totally automatic for speed and aperture. I occasionally switched between the two modes just to see what would happen and on the second roll, all the shots came out perfectly exposed even when pointing the camera at the sky. Quite impressive really. You can read more technical details and more about the ESP at this website. The manual can be found here.
In the end, the OM1 was a dud and couldn’t be fixed so there was no need to rip the prism out of this one, thank goodness. Looking at the prices of OM40s now, just a few months later, I was very lucky to get this for the price I did and I doubt many will be used to scavenge parts in the future. I absolutely love this camera and will definitely be keeping it. I think it is a nice backup for my OM4.
Oh and I am posting two reviews today and I am making March a Minolta March Month. All posts in March will be based on a Minolta. I had a Konica Kristmas so why not a Minolta March, they do go together after all.
Oh and also, I didn’t figure out the issue with the chemicals for a few rolls so there will be a few underdeveloped rolls being posted in the future. 😦
Update: I further figured it all out, the fix was exhausted. So there was a slight issue with the times combined with exhausted fix. What a wally.