About me

Ajoy Muralidhar

Yashica Yashinon 50mm f/1.4 on Sony Alpha 700. No, I haven’t abandoned my Zuiko lenses or Olympus Film cameras.

Thanks for stopping by…. I hope you find some useful information on my photography blog.

I started Olympuszuiko.com as a location to post some of my photographs, share my thoughts and experiences in photography, and of course, a place to post Olympus Camera information. Over time, the site has grown to include my Sony Alpha 700 and my Minolta AF equipment and other classic cameras (including Yahsica, Ricoh and some rangefinders) that have found their way to me. I’ve also developed an interest in Macrophotography using bellows and old bellows lenses, and the site reflects that as well.

I’m an engineer living in Maryland. I work with the human factors aspects of military systems. I moved from Illinois in Spring 2006 to work in the DC area. I started working at a facility in Westminster, MD and I recently moved to an office in Alexandria. Westminster is located in the heart of Carroll County – an hour from Washington DC, and 45 minutes from Baltimore’s Inner harbor. I commute from Gaithersburg and still drive to Westminster at least once week along Rte 27, so I get to drive along rural roads and rolling countryside, and it’s a far change from driving on Edens Expressway (I-94) in Chicagoland.

My interests are design philosophy, systems engineering, information architecture and human systems integration. Non-professionally, I love gardening, photography (ok, ok, picture taking – I’m no artist), operatic music and collecting old books. When I lived in Chicagoland, I was surrounded by creative folk – Jenn Meyer, who heads Ajenda Interactive Media and teaches at Wheaton, Chris Messley who studied Photography at Rochester and is a creative director in New York City, Doug McGoldrick, who is an artist and professional photographer, Adream Blair who teaches at the University of Cincinnati and Linda Gardner, who taught me to stop looking at things from a logic based engineering perspective – and that a systems approach to life is emotionally bankrupt.

Chris Messley knew about my interest in photography, and was always ready to point me in the right direction, and he gave me valuable advice, tips and even his precious Barbara Upton book and encouraged me to keep experimenting. Photography is perhaps the best medium for an engineer to begin the search for his creative side since it has a technological component that is at once familiar and reassuring. There is the physics of light, the geometry of the lens, the design and engineering of the various mechanisms and transports of the camera body, and of course, the structure and chemistry of film and it’s processing.

It is very easy to get caught up in the technical details though, and there are hundreds of enthusiasts out there on the online forums who spend hours debating the merits of one camera or lens over other, or the resolution of this lens over that one instead of actually going out there and taking some pictures. In the end, what do lens coatings and motor drives and lines per inch matter? All they can do is manipulate photons and excite chemical emulsions to form images -they do not see or experience life as it is happening. I remind myself of that everyday.

When I am not working, reading or photographing things, I am occasionally guilty of posting rambling thoughts online about opera, gardening, engineering and of course, photography. Most weekends, I can usually be found outdoors hiking and playing with my little daughter Sunny, or haunting used bookstores drooling over fine vintage books I cannot afford.

As you can see, I like dabbling in restoring old mechanical Olympus cameras… why Olympus? because when it was designed, the OM system was a beautiful example of human factors engineering. If you pick up a OM camera, you will see what I mean – literally. Every control is carefully thought out, and every control and display can be viewed from the top of the camera.

Olympus Corporation’s chief designer Yoshihisa Maitani is a true design genius… everything about this little camera feels so right, and comes to hand easily. It is not by accident. It was designed to be so – at the time when the OM system was under development, most SLR systems were built big and heavy, in the name of ruggedness. Each year, new improvements were added, which ended up making the cameras bigger and heavier. If you consider that in the early 1970’s, there were no built in motor drives or light weight flash units, the poor professional photographer of that period was lugging around a quite a few pounds of hardware – a couple of camera bodies, motor drive unit, battery pack, flash unit etc. Add to that several heavy lenses, and you have all the makings of severe back and neck trauma.

Olympus designed the superb Zuiko lenses were designed to be a perfect match for the OM camera bodies, small and lightweight compared to the humongous beasts that the competition was building at the time. And Olympus did all this without sacrificing quality, ease of use, survivability and affordability. I’ve heard some comments that some people preferred the other brands because they found the OM cameras small and fiddly, but that simply is not true – the cameras may be small, but the controls are full-sized, as large as any other camera, and much better located for use intuitively, and without moving the eye from the viewfinder. Users can follow the action without looking away, since all the controls were so intuitively placed. Don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself.
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About Olympus
From the Olympus Corporate Website –
Olympus was established on October 12, 1919. It initially specialized in microscope and thermometer businesses.
Founder Takeshi Yamashita became an attorney after graduating from Tokyo Imperial University Law school in 1915. After one year of military service, he joined Tokiwa Shokai, a trading company. He brought considerable profit to Tokiwa Shokai through sugar trading. Tokiwa Shokai then compensated his effort by allowing Mr. Yamashita to establish his own firm, Takachiho Seisakusho with Shintaro Terada, a friend from his lawyer days. The objective of Takachiho Seisakusho was to launch domestic production of microscopes.

Mr. Terada was the first Japanese to build microscopes using industrial techniques in the 1910s. A microscope built by Mr.Terada was exhibited at the Taisho Expo held in 1914 and won the bronze prize. Mr. Matsumoto of Iwashiya, a long-established medical equipment firm, financially supported him to produce “M&KATERA” microscopes. This name was created by combining the names of the three people involved in the development of this microscope: Mr.Matsumoto, Mr.Kato, and Mr.Terada.

Mr. Terada had been mainly making thermometers in Hongo, Tokyo. He gained sufficient experience in microscopes through building the M&KATERA model. Mr.Yamashita revealed his dream of building microscopes to Mr.Terada and asked him to come work for Takachiho Seisakusho. The manufacturing equipment of Terada Seisakusho was transferred to Takachiho Seisakusho, and Mr.Terada become the chief engineer of the company.

In 1923, the thermometer business was sold off. And most of the proceeds were invested in the microscope business. The company that purchased the thermometer business was authorized to use Olympus as its brand name.

The OM Camera System
Introduced in 1973, the OM-1 was the first product in the OM Series. It earned wide acclaim as the world’s smallest and lightest 35mm single-lens reflex camera. The ribbons in the cloth curtain shutter were replaced with strings, and the camera was equipped with an air damper to absorb the shock of mirror movement. The condenser was eliminated, and a pentaprism with a curved lower surface was used. Olympus employed a wide range of innovative ideas to reduce body size and the noise and shock caused by shutter operation. Shutter durability was also improved, resulting in a system capable of withstanding 100,000 operations. The finder screen could be replaced from the lens mount side. The OM-1 initially went on sale as the M-1. However, the product created such an impact that Leica asked Olympus to change the name. Olympus improved and developed a wide range of technology in preparation for the production of the OM-1, including rust prevention technology for the steel materials used to reduce weight, pentaprism processing technology, and heat treatment and surface processing technologies to maximize durability. (The official line from the Olympus Global Web site)
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Useful Links

Camerapedia

History of the OM Camera

Modern Classics: The OM Camera System

Olympus SLR history and information

Olympus OM system info (Wikipedia)

Overview of the Olympus Camera system

Olympus Close-up Photography Equipment

Olympus Lens Tests

Yoshihisa Maitani the Designer

Maitani Biography

Maitani Fan Page

The Maitani Advertisement

The Maitani School of Photography 🙂

The Maitani Interview

Comments on the Master Designer

Pursuit/Olympus website


text and images © 2006-2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.

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