OM-2n


I admit it – I am smitten by the black models of the old metal bodied manual cameras. Why black? In the old days BP (before plastic) black was the color of the “professional” model cameras. Why? I’m not exactly sure, since there are so many contradictions here… perhaps the black was less conspicuous than the shiny chrome bodies, perhaps they reflected less light. (but then, some of the BIG lenses were made in a white finish, ostensibly to keep them from heating up too much in the sun.)

The fact remains that black became associated with the “pro” as opposed to the chrome “consumer” models. Now some cameras were made exclusively in black, pro or not, but that’s an exception. For some reason, fewer black models seem to have been made as well, and that adds to the mystique.

Consider this… the black was usually enamel paint on the brass body, which did not hold up as well as the chrome finish – consequently, the likelihood of the black enamel wearing off and showing the metal underneath was high, as seen from the ubiquitous ‘brassing’ that is common on black body cameras. A black camera with a mint (read as no brassing) finish usually fetches a much higher price than its chrome counterpart because of its relative rarity.

I am not sure what the production ratios of chrome to black models were in the manufacturing mix – there are probably more black-bodied cameras out there than we realize. Taking the OM line for example – the OM-1 to OM-4 are considered the professional bodies, there are far more chrome versions than black, which gives the lie to the notion that black = professional.

Now consider the consumer version of the OM bodies, viz, the OM-10 through OM-40/PC). Since they are for the regular Joe Amateur, they should be all be chrome, right? But no – it turns out black versions were made for these cameras as well. The OM-40/PC

was made ONLY in a black version with rubber armored bodies, so we won’t take them into consideration.

Looking at the all the OM-10 cameras that regularly show up on eBay, I was lulled into thinking that they were only made in chrome – then Bam! I came across a BLACK OM-10. Never saw one of those before. It was in great condition too – not a bit of brassing.

Sheer chance plays a big part as well. The first Olympus camera I purchased was a black OM-1.

It wasn’t because it was black or anything. I was looking at manual cameras in a pawn shop one day, it was just that the shop had 2 Olys, an OM-1 and an OM-PC and I picked the OM-1. At that time I did not not know anything about the Olympus OM System, it was cheap, and looked much more sturdy than the OM-PC with its rubber body. That’s all.

Most of the old manual lenses were black. The black lenses looked great on black cameras and looked good on the chrome versions, since the leatherette on the chrome was black as well, the black lenses blended right in. Lots of AF lenses were made in chrome/silver plastic bodies though. They look fine on the chrome bodies, but look hokey on the all black bodies. But that’s just my opinion.

All the lenses I have for my Minolta Dynax 800si (late 90’s manufacture, so naturally, big black plastic body) are black. I resisted the impulse to purchase the silver/chrome Maxxum AF lenses. Anyway, the only Maxxum lenses I purchased new were a nice Maxxum AF 50mm f/1.7 when I bought the camera. The other new lenses were a black Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5-6 and a black Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.5. The rest of my Minolta AF lenses were bought used off of eBay and Craigslist. Hey, I’m Joe Amateur, remember? I have to go Cheap.

Now for anyone on the trail of a black body camera, please watch out for touched up or repainted ones. That is a strict no-no. Besides, they look so fake and terrible. I’d rather have a heavily brassed black camera than one which had a mint looking refinished paint job.

I’ve heard that Nikon had a program years ago where professional photographers working for the leading pictorial publications of the 70’s could send in their battered camera bodies (hey, they were out in the Amazon, Siberia, Australia, Sahara, the Himalayas… what can you expect?) to Nikon, and they would refurbish them and send them back. Even repaint them. I suppose that if the factory did the painting, one could not complain.

However, I have never heard of any of the other manufacturers having such a program, so I’d consider a new paint job on an OM as fake as a $3. bill. That said, an individual collector may decide to have one of his many bodies refinished with glossy black enamel and some jazzy leatherette. More power to them. A little brassing and paint loss, even a small ding or two never hurt a camera. Besides, they ARE from 30 years ago. And if one plans on using them as real shooters, a little wear and tear is to be expected.

Everything changed as manufacturers realized that they could make the bodies much more cheaply in plastic. One small glitch though – back then, the coating technology was not so advanced as now, and “chrome finish” on plastic looked awful and wore off really quickly. It was far easier to make all the bodies in black plastic. That became the new norm, and has stayed with us ever since.

Things changed again in the late 90’s – it became possible to make “chrome look” plastics, and lots of the later consumer model SLRS changed to the chrome/satin finish. Some point and shoots were even made in a “champagne” colored plastic body. With the coming of the digital point and shoot cameras, hard-wearing chrome plastic came into its own. So did colored plastics. But that’s another story.

Anyway. The ‘black’ bodies extended to the point-and-shoot cameras and the rangefinders as well. I have a black Olympus Trip (I love this one)
and a black Olympus 35 EC.

Recently, I found a black Yashica MG-1, a black Ricoh 500G (this is one case where the silver one looks cooler, but that just me). Rounding off the Black cameras are a Honeywell-Pentax Repronar Camera body with bellows,

and a black Ricoh CR-5.

I also have a black Yashica Dental Eye

( an FX3 type body, I believe).

The black models usually cost an average of 3 times the price of a regular chrome (and in some cases, where the camera is in excellent condition, much more.). Rounding off my black collection is an excellent Olympus OM-2n.

Keep in mind that the coating is just skin deep. Black or Chrome, it’s still the same camera. Don’t go out of the way or way over your budget to get one, unless you are comfortable with the price. Above all, make sure it’s a shooter. What good is a camera that’s only fit for a display case?



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This work by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympuszuiko.

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The Zuiko 100mm f/2.8 is one of the best lenses made by Olympus. It’s a sweet lens… and a pleasure to use. It is very small, just a couple of millimeters longer than the 50mm f/1.8. When set at f/4, it’s possibly the best portrait lens there is. But it’s great for scenics as well, pulling the scene just enough to focus on the interesting areas, and leaving the behind the urban clutter (signs, poles. wires etc) that are the bane of photographers everywhere. I took the Zuiko 100mm along with an Olympus OM-2N to photograph the Fall colors.


Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8

Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
Fall – Zuiko 100mm f/2.8

Photographed with an OM-2N and Zuiko 100mm f/2.8 lens, Fuji Super 100 film, overcast conditions 1/125 second at f/5.6


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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Fall comes pretty late to Montgomery County. The colors just seemed to peak just last week, a full 3 weeks after most of the Northeast had their glorious blazes. But then, we don’t have that many Maples here -just enough to set them off against the yellows and brown-golds and greens. We have lots of Sycamores, Pin and White Oak, Birches and Yellow Poplar that seem to hold on to their green a lot longer. Even now, there are a lot of trees that are still predominantly green, just starting to go yellow and red

These pictures were all taken around Gaithersburg, Rockville and Germantown. The woods around Robertson Park and Morris Park are especially beautiful this week. I was out these past 2 weekends with a few cameras. These pictures were all taken with my OM-2n. I used the Tokina RMC 70-210 f/3.5 and the Vivitar SERIES ONE 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom lens

If the Tokina RMC 70-210mm Zoom appears to have the same specifications as the Vivitar SERIES ONE, it’s because they share the same design genes. Lens enthusiasts and fans of the Vivitar Series One lenses will recall that Vivitar had several versions of the Series One 70-210mm. Their first one was the Kino Precision made 70-210m lens (serial number 22xxxxx) that was built like a tank. Weighed 2 lbs and has a 67mm front element. The second version of the lens was made for Vivitar by Tokina (serial number 37xxxxx).

The Tokina made lens was smaller and lighter than the Kino version – just as sharp, and with a constant f/3.5 aperture like its predecessor, but with a 62mm front element. Vivitar went through their lens manufacturers real quickly in those days…. they then turned to Komine to produce the third version (Serial number 28xxxxx) and dropped Tokina. Tokina then produced the lens under its own name, the Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (with their special multicoated lens) which I was lucky enough to get my hands on. It’s a very beautiful lens, silky smooth operation and a pleasure to use.

On a side note: You’d think that Vivitar would have stayed with Komine, since the 3rd version of the 70-210mm Series One is considered by many to to be superior to the previous two – it had a f/2.8-4 aperture instead of the fixed f/3.5 but weighed as much as the Kino version (860gms) in spite of the smaller 62mm front element. Vivitar went on to make a 4th and 5th version of the Series One 70-210mm, turning to Cosina for the manufacture. Alas, the quality just wasn’t the same. If you’re in the market, I’d suggest that you look for the Kino, Tokina and Komine versions and give the Cosina versions a pass.

I love the older version Kino made Vivitar Series One, but it’s a bear to carry and I can barely hand-hold it. Besides, it looks disproportionately large on the small frame of my OM SLR bodies. I always worry about damage to the mount with such a big lens. I can see how why the later versions (especially the 2nd and 3rd versions made by Tokina and Komine) became so popular – they were smaller, even though they weighed just as much. The Tokina version weighs 790gms. Still very heavy by modern standards. Hey, it has 14 elements in 10 groups.

Check out Mark Roberts’ photography website for a comparison of the different Vivitar Series One 70-210mm lenses. He prefers the Komine Version (#3) but I think the Tokina has better contrast. The Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5, however does not have a Macro mode like it’s Vivitar Series One counterparts.


Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm

Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5
Tokina RMC 70-210mm

Photographed with an OM2n, Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5, Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5 with Fuji Superia 200 film. I used a polarizer in the sunlight. The exposures in low light were at 1/125 sec at f/5.6


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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That’s my nephew Vasu – a real milk lover. I was cleaning my Olympus OM 2n, wiping it down after a hike when spotted him sitting at the dining table with a glass and gallon of milk. He didn’t notice I was photographing him until the last shot, when he caught me out of the corner of his eye. Natural light imparts a certain undefinable quality to pictures thats almost impossible to duplicate. These were in color, but I desaturated them since I liked the black and white effect much better with the milk theme.


Got Milk?
Got Milk?
Got Milk?

Photographed with an OM 2n and Panagor 90mm f/2.8 1/250 sec at f/5.6 on Fuji Superia 200 film


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I never cease to be surprised at what I run into on the lonely country roads in Carroll County. I was on Rte 31 from Westminster to New Windsor, when I came across this little road that had a sign saying there was a historic Methodist church. It’s mostly farmland and dairy country out here, with a few orchards thrown in for character, so naturally I was curious.

I took this little road deep into the countryside, and came upon a perfectly preserved house and meeting room, with a collection of barns and sheds, and get this – life size statue of a minister called Robert Strawbridge.

Apparently, that was the site of the first Methodist church in the United States, dating back to the 1760’s. The sign says it all. It was late in the evening and I shot a few pictures with my OM-1 and a plain-jane Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 with Kodak 200 film. The setting sun made the scene pre-dominantly gold and yellow.

I decided to return there early in the morning sometime for better lighting with the sun at a different angle – never got around to it. Then it was winter, and the roads get pretty icy out in the Country. Anyway, to make a long story short, I managed to get back over there this Spring – this time with an OM-2N, a Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and an Zuiko 200mm f/4 (Don’t ask – I just felt like having the 200mm that day).

If you’ve never used a 200mm lens, it’s a treat… the perspective at 200mm is very interesting – the background gets pulled in, making it look bigger than it is, leaving the foreground pretty much the same. It doesn’t distort, but definitely flattens. The Zuiko 200mm f/4 is one of Olympus Opticals best lenses, tack sharp and feels solid in the hands. One of the legendary ‘perfect lenses’, and a must have.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to BUY one to experience it, since no Olympus owner will ever LEND you their 200mm f/4. Other lenses perhaps.. but not the 200mm. No owner wants it out of their hands and sight. Trust me on this. The Zuiko 200mm f/4 also has magnificent bokeh, which is a plus point when using it wide open (perfect for birding).

The sign says it all, there’s not much else out there explaining what it was like out there in the 1750’s and 1760’s when the minister took up residence there. I looked up Robert Strawbridge, and here’s what I found . Not much in Wikipedia either. However, I found a bit of interesting Robert Strawbridge history here. The house and meeting place are a museum, and there is a person who lives in the house next door that provides a little more information and interprets the site on request.

In any case, I’m glad I visited. The Strawbridge site has a very peaceful atmosphere, I can understand why the Reverend decided to build his church there.

Update Jan 2008: Here are some pictures from a recent visit – they’ve added a statue of Elizabeth Strawbridge at the shrine.

Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House

Photographed with an OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Kodak 200 Gold film

Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House

Photographed with an OM-2N, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and Zuiko 200mm f/4 and Fujicolor HQ Super 200 film. i used a graduated ND filter for the last picture in the series.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I drive by Krider’s Church Road every day on my way to work. I usually take Md Rte 97 North (Pennsylvania Avenue) after I cross downtown Westminster. Its a very insignificant road just past the intersection of MD Rte 140. No one would notice the little road leading west if it weren’t for the tall steeple of Krider’s Church which is visible for miles around.

I took these pictures during a a lunch break late in the winter, a couple of days after a snowstorm. There was lots of snow/ice on the ground, sunny with a lightly overcast sky. I used the OM-2n with a 50mm lens. It was very bright, so I stopped the lens down as far as it would go, and set the shutter speed at 1/250 second.

The paved road ends just past the Church and there is a narrow gravel road that links the few farms and homes to another paved road about a mile due west. This farm appears to be abandoned, so I got out of the car and walked over to where I could frame the shot with the trees. The huge roll of cable just begged to be photographed, bright orange against the white snow and blue-white sky. Ditto for the school buses.

Krider’s Church
Old Barn
Cable Roll
School Bus Depot

Photographed with an OM-2n, 50mm f/1.4, Fuji Xtra 200 film, 1/250 sec at f/16, Hoya 81A filter


I’ve photographed Krider’s Church before in summer, but in Black & White, with my OM-1. The Church is surrounded by a parking lot and a lush green lawn, both of which don’t reflect much light upwards to illuminate the brickwork. The overcast sky and snow and the ground acted like a giant softbox in the winter photograph above.

Krider’s Church – BW

Photographed with an OM-1, 50mm f/1.8, Ilford XP2 400 film, 1/250 sec at f/11; Tiffen Red 25 filter


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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A few weeks ago, Sunayana and I took a picnic lunch to Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg – It’s close to the heart of Gaithersburg, on Rte 355 (Frederick Road).

The park is very busy at all times of the year, yet provides a refuge for many kinds of wildlife because of the way it is laid out. The public, more frequented parts of the park are concentrated towards the front, bordering the ponds, while the back of the ponds is mostly open area with a wooded border. This allows the wildlife areas to be partially isolated from the rest of the park, except for the occasional couple walking around the ponds.

The pond supports a variety of ducks and geese, deer, turtles and lots of birds, fairly typical for the region, but still a welcome sight. The park is large enough so that one doesnt hear the incessant roar of traffic from 355 and yet easy to get to from anywhere.

I used an OM-2N with a Zuiko 70-150mm f/4 lens. The Zuiko 70-150mm f/4 is a venerable zoom, available cheaply on eBay and elsewhere – for some reason, people tend to overlook the fine qualities of this particular zoom – it was the first zoom introduced in the OM system, originally released with the OM-1 camera. Lots of people purchased this lens as their primary zoom back then, and that probably accounts for so many lenses being available, and like everything else, familiarity breeds contempt – in this case, very undeserved.

The Zuiko 70-150 is a superb optic in every way – sharp and true colors. It may not be as fast as some later zooms, but then, who needs anything faster than f/4 for outdoors photography? A quick search on eBay will usually show a dozen of these lenses being sold for anything between $40-$75, a pittance for such a fine piece of glass.

It’s a great portrait lens as well – open it wide to f/4, set the focal length to approximately to 100-110 mm, focus and shoot. It will give good results every time – with pleasant bokeh.

Sunny
Pondside reeds
cattail reeds
Ducks in a row?
Bohrer Park
Bohrer Park
Bohrer Park
Bohrer Park
Bohrer Park
Bohrer Park

Photographed with an Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko 70-150mm, Fuji Superia 400 film

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