The Olympus OM-1 was my first real camera, a hand-me down from my brothers. I started using this one in the late 80’s and continued to use it through the early 2000s. Before I began acquiring cameras – which not coincidentally was around the time I joined flickr, it was my only camera.
I’ve had it shelved for ages – the meter died twenty years ago even after repairs, and the shutter speeds seemed sluggish the last time I tried it. But after years hauling around the Nikon N90 as my go-to film SLR, I was surprised how light the OM-1 is. I’d forgotten how easy it is to carry around. I ran into Chris Chen aka furcafe, and although he’s not an OM-1 owner he admires the compact size – not much bigger than a classic Leica rangefinder, he pointed out (as he frequently does, he had a Leica for comparison). Chris pointed out that the shutter-speed controls on the front of the camera, around the lens, strikes him as strange – most cameras have shutter speed controlled by a dial on top of the camera. But this is how I learned it.
The earliest OM-1 shot I can find on my flickr stream, the late Willem Breuker, ca. 1996:
I loaded my OM-1 with Fuji 200 and expected the shutter speeds to result in a lot of overexposed shots. But the roll turned out alright. This old school corner shop is home to the Capital Bikeshare station I use. It also seems to be the only place on the Hill where I can find Pom juice.
Olie’s Trollie downtown – the blown highlights may be due more to my not compensating than to slow shutter speeds: