Olympus OM2 (OM2n) – Camera Review

Olympus OM2 (OM2n) – Camera Review

2400 1350 James Tocchio

The Olympus OM system has a long history of both exceptional and under appreciated machines. While the OM1 was received by professional photogs, the press, and industry insiders as a marvel of miniaturization, design, and engineering, the brand didn’t seem to gain such a strong reputation with the casual user. Despite what Olympus had achieved in designing the OM, the company’s cameras were often considered by the masses to be somehow less than the cameras of Canon and Nikon.

Even today Olympus’ cameras don’t seem to get the respect that they might deserve. I’ve often wondered if this is fair. So when I found a late 1970s OM-2n at the local thrift store with a price tag smaller than the cost of a cup of coffee, I had to buy it and see for myself.

Fast-forward two weeks and I just can’t fathom why the OM-2 is so often regarded as second-rate to its competition. This often overlooked and undervalued machine offers so much more than its contemporaries in the areas of detail-oriented conveniences, ease of use, and innovation. With fantastic performance, unprecedented compactness, and sheer fun-factor, it’s clear that the common opinion of the Olympus machine is completely incongruous to its actual value as a photographic device.

To put it in simple terms; the OM-2 is the best vintage camera I’ve shot in the past few months, months that’ve included the Leica M3 and Canon A1 among many others. So what makes the OM so amazing?

In the modern consumer environment the average photo geek can shoot literally thousands of perfectly capable cameras, so there needs to be an emotional connection to justify spending one’s time and money on a particular camera. Falling in love with a camera is very similar to falling in love with a spouse. That kind of long-lived love is linked to the soul, but it must first be sparked by a physical infatuation. For a camera to be truly loved, it must first make you want to touch it.

The OM-2 does this, as it’s one of the finest and most timelessly good-looking designs in vintage cameras. Slim, sophisticated, concise; there’s little to nitpick about the OM-2’s aesthetics. Like Audrey Hepburn or the Porsche 911, it was beautiful then and it remains perfect today.

In either chrome or black, the OM-2 is purposeful, refined, unembellished. Crisp lines define an angular shape, with the body being made up of perfectly proportioned geometric forms. The pentaprism is among the smallest in classic cameras, rising to a near pyramidal point at the center. The uncluttered top plate benefits from the unusual placement of the shutter speed selector on a concentric ring around the lens mount, leaving ample room for the film advance, shutter release, and exposure compensation dial.

The engraved markings are all well-defined, and Olympus has chosen a number of vibrant colors to help differentiate one from another. For example, the lens’ distance scale alters from text in orange to white, discerning feet versus meters. Less commonly used indicators such as Bulb mode and film rewind are marked in red as if to ask “are you sure?” The shutter speed selector uses blue text for any speeds that may be slow enough to introduce camera shake (1/60s and below). These are small touches, but they’re personally appealing and give the otherwise stark design a splash of color and visual interest.

Levers, knobs, and switches are singularly focused. Each has a purpose, and each benefits from a clarity of design that’s hard to find in the modern era of cluttered and overwhelming camera controls. This is the kind of camera in which every detail has been carefully sorted to maximize efficiency and make good use of available space. To put it simply, the OM-2 is a refreshing change from the “more is more” design philosophy of current days.

Practically speaking, the OM-2 is a wonderful machine to use primarily due to its small size. Through the dogged work of famed designer Yoshihisa Maitani (whose name is immortalized by the “M” in “OM”) Olympus was driven to create a new world in which SLRs could be well-made and full-featured while still maintaining a tiny footprint. They succeeded with the OM-1, and that legacy carried on to subsequent OMs.

Olympus OM 2 Review 10

The OM-2 is one of the smallest and most compact SLRs of all time. At 136 x 83 x 50mm it’s smaller than many of today’s mirror-less cameras, and with a standard lens attached its depth only increases by 30mm. Weight is 690g (24 oz) with the standard Zuiko 50mm F/1.8 mounted. For reference, a Nikon D610 body weighs 850g, and a Leica M3 body weighs 580g.

But enough numbers- the point is that this is a camera you can carry over the shoulder comfortably for as long as necessary, and one that can be casually kept at the ready wherever you go. It’s easily smaller than any of its contemporary competition in the world of film photography, and compared to modern DSLRs there’s really no contest. Even today’s mirror-less cameras are hard pressed to compete with the OM-2’s size. For shooters who want a portable and lightweight yet super-proficient camera, the OM-2 is the best solution.

Build quality is very respectable. The OM-2 feels solid, dense, and tight. Knobs and dials all click with firm resistance, and settle into their detents with directed force. The exposure compensation dial and shutter speed selector in particular offer a firm confidence that’s difficult to find in this camera’s Japanese contemporaries.

There’s enough metal here to make one feel that they’re holding something more meaningful than the latest batch of DSLRs, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these 40-year-old machines are still working today. A reputation for high-quality construction is further reinforced by a well-documented history of OM cameras operating successfully in the theater of war. Suffice to say, this is a robust machine.

Olympus OM 2 Review 11

With the OM-2, Olympus was aiming to create a completely capable camera to build on the success of the OM-1. This is evidenced by the ability of the camera to accept data-backs and 250 exposure film spools in place of the instantly removable film door. Similarly modular was the ability to change focus screens in a matter of seconds, useful for everything from micro-photography to document reproduction. Exceptional Zuiko glass and a first-of-its-kind, off-the-film (OTF) metering system round out the camera’s pro-spec features and create a camera system that’s capable of virtually anything.

Essentially an OM-1 with increased functionality, the OM-2 and OM-2n retain the OM-1’s full manual shooting mode while adding native aperture priority auto-exposure shooting with the flip of a switch.

Shooting in aperture priority mode is an excellent way to retain a certain amount of artistic control in photography. The shooter can adjust depth-of-field to achieve the desired artistic result, such as maximum sharpness for landscape shooting or dreamy subject isolation for bokeh-doused portraits. With the OM-2 being so capable at perfectly calculating exposures there’s little to worry about in this shooting mode. Even exposures as long as 60 seconds are summarily handled by the OM-2, with the OM-2n being capable of slowing things down even further to a possible 120 seconds. Maximum shutter speed on both models is 1/1000 of a second. Yes, this shutter can do it all.

For fine exposure adjustments in aperture priority mode, the camera offers an exposure compensation dial. The large and perfectly positioned dial allows a single index finger to make on-the-fly adjustments to exposure totaling plus or minus two stops in 1/3rd stop increments. This dial adjuster coupled with the in-viewfinder meter needle makes shooting in AP mode virtually effortless. Set your aperture, watch the exposure needle, adjust for your scene, and shoot.

Switching the dial to manual mode allows complete control over both shutter speed and aperture, just like an OM-1. In manual mode the shutter speeds range from 1/1000 of a second to the slowest setting of 1 second, although Bulb mode allows for exposures of any length.

The camera benefits from a fairly excellent viewfinder, offering 97% of the actual photo field and a split-image focus dot. Unique to the OM-2, the viewfinder features dynamic indicators for exposure; when in manual mode the viewfinder displays an exposure index, in aperture priority mode it displays a shutter speed indicator, and it displays a small emblem to indicate usage of exposure compensation. The whole thing is presented via transparencies and needles, and this delightfully analog display reminds the shooter that they’re using a charming, vintage machine.

These shooting modes and fine exposure adjustments would mean nothing if the camera metered poorly. Luckily, the OM-2 has one of the best metering systems I’ve ever used. Olympus was the first to develop a meter that took a reading directly off of the film, ensuring unprecedented exposure accuracy in specialty shooting situations. Not just a gimmick, variations on this system were eventually used by many manufacturers, including Minolta, Leica, and Pentax.

Olympus OM 2 Review 9

To achieve a correct exposure, a light reading is taken off of the first of two shutter curtains. This curtain is imprinted with a computer-generated pattern of alternating white blocks which mimics an average photograph. When the mirror flips up, twin metering cells measure the light reflected from the subject as it bounces off of this pattern of blocks. Using this information, the camera times the release of the second curtain, allowing realtime and step-less adjustments to exposure times. It’s all very technical, but even if we don’t understand exactly how it works we can at least enjoy that the shutter curtain looks more interesting than most.

The OM-2 was the very first camera to use this kind of technology, and the important thing is that in practice it operates flawlessly. Shooting in aperture priority mode yields nothing but consistently perfect exposures even in the most challenging of lighting situations. Backlit subjects, extreme darkness, and high-contrast scenes are all rendered perfectly.

So the OM-2 is well-built, good-looking, and technically proficient? Sounds like we have a winner. But let’s not forget, any camera system is only as good as the lenses it uses. While the OM system made huge advancements in the arenas of size and performance, it would mean nothing if the lenses were sub-par. Fortunately again, Olympus has provided utmost quality in a tiny package with their “Zuiko” lenses.

Meaning “blissful light”, Zuiko lenses are generally considered to be among the sharpest vintage lenses and offer world-class performance in a compact form. There are more than fifty available lenses, ensuring that virtually any type of photo can be created with the OM system.

Notably Olympus has done some things a bit different from their competition in regards to lens construction and functionality. Placement of the aperture ring has been located at the front of the lens, usually a place reserved for the focus ring. While this certainly takes some getting used to, it’s not a problem, and in some cases actually makes more sense. It’s easier to glance down the camera and see the selected aperture, for example.

Another interesting difference between Zuiko glass and other makers’ lenses is the inclusion of a stop-down lever within the lens, as opposed to on the camera body. This lever is positioned well, allowing quick checks to depth-of-field without moving one’s hand from the natural shooting position. At first a bit strange, in less than a roll of film’s worth of shooting we were used to it.

Focus action is exceptionally smooth on the standard 50mm ƒ/1.8. The knurled rubber ring spins with a perfectly weighted fluidity that exudes extreme quality. The plastic aperture ring feels a bit cheap, and it’s unfortunate that it operates in single stop increments, but it slots into these incremental detents with a mechanical precision that buoys confidence in build quality.

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Images rendered by the OM-2n and 50mm combination are fantastic in their execution. Dynamic range is impressive, while color and contrast are as good as any Nikkor at comparable apertures. Shot wide open the lens produces attractive and well-blended bokeh that’s exceptionally creamy for an ƒ/1.8. Stopped down to ƒ/2.8, bokeh highlights come through in the form of adequately rounded balls of magical light. There’s a bit of hardness around the edges and things aren’t perfectly circular, but complaining too hard about bokeh begins to bring us into the realm of picking nits.

Stop the lens down to ƒ/4 and things become as sharp as a hedgehog’s spines. Contrast and light falloff improve at this aperture as well, resulting in essentially perfect images. Stop further to ƒ/8 and you’ve reached the peak of sharpness with this lens, and sharpness that rivals any of the competition’s standard 50mm lenses. Chromatic aberration, flaring, and ghosting are happily missing in action.

All told, the OM-2 is a camera with which I’ve fallen in love. It’s tiny, inconspicuous, quiet, capable, and proud. It’s modern enough to use standard batteries, yet vintage enough to offer analog charms. The OM-2 can do anything we ask of it without breaking our backs or the bank. It just might be a perfect 35mm film camera. Staring at the OM-2 with the most critical eye leads one to stare without result. There’s nothing substantive about which to complain.

Even so, that didn’t keep Olympus from innovating. Later improvements to the OM-2 would come in the form of the OM-2s (sp), which added spot -metering and full program auto-exposure. This would make the pro-spec OM system even more approachable by enthusiasts and amateurs. Further changes with the OM-2s include the replacement of the charming analog viewfinder displays in favor of a more modern, backlit LCD graph to indicate exposure values. Even further updated models in the OM-3 and OM-4 continued to push things progressively forward in the pursuit of ultimate performance in a tiny package.

And that’s the enduring legacy of the OM system. It urged all manufacturers toward consistent innovation. By cramming unlimited performance in a tiny package, Olympus was able to direct the future of the SLR industry in a way that would change things forever. No longer would camera bulk be accepted as the necessary byproduct of producing a high quality machine. Olympus proved that a photographer actually could have it all.

For today’s shooter looking for an exceptionally capable film SLR, the OM-2 should certainly be considered. With quality equal-to or better-than many of its contemporaries, it’s a full-featured camera that paved the way for a generation of machines that followed it. If you want an amazing 35mm film camera, and size and style are among your chief concerns, there may be no better fit than the OM-2.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • An brilliant read, I recently shelled out myself on an OM-1n, mostly because I love the design and knew it would be good, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how high the quality is on these little gems that Olympus produced.

    • Happy you like it. Great cameras they are.

      • Olympus slr rock! I have two OM2sp and just two days ago I found my Christmas’ gift: I bought an OM2n with a Soligor 20mm f2,8 for 80€, both in really mint condition! As time passes I leave more and more my Nikon D600 at home and pick one of my Olympus instead, even for work, pretty often.

  • Thanks for the beautifully written review.

  • until the mirror locks up and gets stuck…

  • Great review. I got my OM-2 at auction for a great deal and I’m excited to take it out for it’s maiden voyage (with me) in the near future.

  • I recently picked mine up at a thrift store for $7. I love it.

  • I was recently gifted an OM2 and three lenses and so can’t wait to give it a test run. Nice article thanks.

  • Can anyone tell me how to identify year and value, I want to sell one that I have/found that appears to be in very very good condition.

  • oh wow, that is amazing to read. Thank you very much for this detailed report.
    I am getting my OM2n tonight. It is getting passed from my dad and I hope it is in the name mint condition as yours is.
    I am a little afraid of an overhaul/revision…I hope it does not cost me an arm and a leg.

  • Great lecture! I own and still use the OM-1 and I simply love it.

  • Picked up one on eBay for 59 bucks plus shipping. Got the 50mm for 49 plus shipping. It arrives today and I can’t wait to start shooting on film! Been using a d5200/d5300 for over a year making videos/photos so I’m pumped!

  • Fantastic site all this information is pure gold

  • Thanks for the kind words. Happy shooting!

  • Hello,
    I am an art student looking into buying an Olympus Camera but am having a hard time on what model I want and would be easiest to lean on. I’m tossing up between the OM 2N, Om 2S or the OM 10. Which do you think would be the best for an amateur like me?

    • Hi there. Happy to hear you’re looking into getting a film camera. I recommend the OM2 over the OM-10 as long as your budget allows it. The OM2 is one of the best reasonably priced SLRs around, and it’s perfect to learn with. The differences between the OM2 and the OM2N are negligible, and you likely won’t notice them in use. The OM2S (or OM2SP, depending on market) is substantially different from both the OM2 and OM2N, as it takes more from the OM4. The major difference here will be the addition of Program mode (which takes care of all exposure values for the shooter- aperture and shutter speed).

      Feel free to check our shop (http://www.fstopcameras.com), we don’t always have OMs in because they sell very quickly, but you may just get lucky.

      I hope this helps!

      • The differences between the OM2 and the OM2N are negligible, and you likely won’t notice them in use.

        Unless you want to shoot TTL flash.

        The OM-2 could do TTL flash — the world’s first! — with the “Quick Auto 310” flash. That didn’t last too long, and is pretty hard to find. You also needed a special hot shoe for the QA310.

        But everything flashy changed with the OM-2n. This started the “T” series of flashes, which Olympus continued for another 20+ years. From the diminutive T-20, through the mid-line (and plentiful on the used market) T-30, to the high-powered T-45, Olympus had the most comprehensive line of TTL flash of all the camera makers. Once TTL became popular, the major third-party flash makers also sold “OM” TTL modules for their flashes.

        Then there’s also the incredible T Power Control and the T-8 and T-10 ring lights, for macro. The T-8, in particular, remains unique. It featured a radially-directed flashbulb that flashed into a large aluminum reflector — think “beauty dish for bugs.” There’s also the T-28 twin flash, but the T-8 remains unique. You can always tell a macro shot done with that flash!

        (I loved the T-8 so much that I adapted it to the E-System FC-1 macro flash controller, so I could use it on 4/3rds and µ4/3rds. https://www.mu-43.com/threads/converted-olympus-t-10-and-t-8-ring-flashes.92166/)

        The bad news is none of the T-Series flashes will do TTL flash with the OM-2. You need the OM-2n for that.

        So if you think you’ll ever want to do TTL flash, hold out for the OM-2n. Otherwise, I agree; the differences are minor, outside of flash.

  • The OM2n has gestalt, I have a mint condition one I picked up a few years ago in a complete set (Case, lenses, flash etc) after the owner passed away and his family sold it, it really is pristine. I’m not sure how much he used it but he certainly looked after it. I absolutely love this camera, it speaks to me. To coin a phrase my youngest daughter used to use as a toddler when she really wanted something…”I need to hold it…”

    • Ha! As a new father to a little girl, your comment really hits home. Great stuff. And I’m glad you’re loving that fantastic camera too! Happy shooting bud.

  • Stupidly I sold my OM2n with 50 & 180 lenses years ago. I went digital, first Panasonic and then Leica. However, have got the Olympus bug again and I have recently (must be mad) bought an OM10, 20, 40, 1n and 2n! My usual film cameras are Leica; but there is something just right when holding the Olympus cameras. Now, should I buy an OM4/4ti? I am definitely going to get an OM3/3ti when funds allow.

  • Great camera! Just recently picked one up having owned an OM10 for a little while (another worthy Olympus option) and I’m amazed just how good these are… in fact I’ve just bought an OM1, so impressed I am, they’re almost perfect considering their age!

  • I can beat Dave D’s story- I bought a black OM2n back in 1982 and then stupidly sold it in the late ’90s to pay for the repair of a Polaroid SX-70 Land camera. What the hell was I thinking?!
    My reasoning was that, because I also had a late 1960s Nikon F fotomic, I figured I didn’t need two SLRs. Damn fool thing to do. Especially when I saw my old OM2 in the camera store window selling in the used section for $350 a few weeks later.
    Fast forward to a few years ago and I snagged a replacement OM2n off eBay. And then a spare one for good measure. I’m holding on to these two, I can tell ya.
    Great review of this classic camera, James. May I ask, what batteries are the best to use in these things? I’m using Energizer 357s, but I’m not sure these are correct.

    • TEERITZ, what were we thinking? It seemed a good idea, at the time.
      Well, the madness continues. I’ve added an OM30, OM1 (with white nose 50mm) and OM4T! Naturally, added some bits and pieces; flashes, grip, winder, bags, etc.
      Next a ‘couple’ of lenses; then an OM3Ti.
      I use Energizer SR44 batteries.

    • I use LR44 batteries. They work, and last forever. Hope this helps!

      • Ahh, Dave, those SX-70s were pretty cool, the way they could be folded down flat, despite the $25-for-ten-exposures film packets and the limitations of the photos themselves. But yes, it was a stupid move on my part.
        Oh well, I now have two OM2s and three Trip 35s, as well as the Nikon F.
        Speaking of madness, now I have a hankering for a Leica M3. “Thanks for nothing, James!” 😉

      • Thanks, James, yes it does. I bought a couple of 357s which are, apparently, the equivalent of the SR44 and LR44. Man, it’s all a tad confusing. I miss the 20th Century.
        Fantastic site you have here, too. I’ve bookmarked a link to it on my own blog.
        Keep up the good work.

    • Of course the Nikon F Photomic metering heads did not last very long and are not repairable now, also the 1.35 volt Mercury oxide batteries have not been available for at least 20 years. Although I have a pair of plain prism F cameras, I would strongly advise anyone today to buy Olympus OM if you are serious about taking photographs. You have a good choice between OM10, OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4. First class metering and superb build and reliable too. Me? I have to persist with my Fs and a Weston Master V.

  • Well written piece on a wonderful camera! I just picked up one and am enjoying shooting it!

  • That the Olympus OM series cameras and lenses were used by the best in the business – Bailey, McCullin et al – says a lot. I handled one for the first time in 1981. It was a coach trip to a CND demo in London. I took my Nikkormat FT and 50 mm f1.8 + 135mm f3.5. On the way home a chap came and said hello and asked me about my camera. He had an OM1. Of course we exchanged and examined. I noticed how light the camera was, how comfortably it fitted in my hand and how exquisitely it was finished. By comparison, my Nikon was a tool, the Olympus was an instrument. As I have five Nikons, nine Leicas and a Hasselblad and a Rolliecord, I could not justify buying one. However, I am tempted!

  • I bought my OM2-n in 1981 to augment my OM-1. Both cameras are beautiful in design and are lightweight and functional, so it’s always a pleasure to read reports commenting on my favourite “Marque” after such a long time…

  • Great read. Thank you for familiarizinge me with this fine work of art. My father in law left it to me and though I am not a photographer at all I want to become a novice. I hope this will be fine for me. I love the weight n looks already. But, have no idea yet what the different filters are for or other lenses. This will come with time I guess. I am looking forward to photographing my grandsons football games. Thanks again for an encouraging article. He also left me ALL original manuals. Time to start reading and practicing. Thank you.

  • I would say put your pounds into a OM 4T. For rainy days. I was using the OM2n
    on a rainy sprinkle day last month in Pennsylvania and I wished I had brought along
    the F4 that was left at home two u.s. states away.
    would have taken…

  • The OM2…oh what a thing of absolute beauty, along with the OM1 of course. I own both and never tire of telling people how great they are. The OM1 has a small issue with the mercury cell syndrome but it can be re-calibrated. The OM2 takes SR44 cells and works for months or even a year on one set. The Zuiko lenses don’t get enough praise either. I would put my 50,35 and 28 up against any other glass, Leica included. Nice blog, I just found it and I’ll be coming back regularly.

  • Brian Fitzpatrick October 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I had one of these a year ago and sold it. I regretted it so much that im just after picking up another. I wont be making that mistake again! Great review!

  • Always love reading your reviews, James. Wonderfully written. While I have read this one before, I had to pop back in for a re-read – I’ve been shooting my OM-2n a lot lately and have such affection for this camera.

    Like my OM-1n, my OM-2n was recently serviced by John Hermanson (zuiko.com), and both are just perfect. You had inquired a while back about the film advance feeling a bit “crunchy”. Now that my OM-2n is back in hand, I can honestly say that it’s even smoother than my OM-1n (though not by much).

    I’m currently in a bit of a “consolidation” spell with respect to my collection, but I’ll never part with my OM bodies.

    All the best, my man!

    • James – Founder/Editor November 2, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading. I’ve heard lots of good things about that rebuild service. I’m glad yours is in top shape! Enjoy it.

  • Hi! Exposure compensation with the OM-2n actually works from -3.7 to +3! Just keep turning the dial past 2 and it still works perfectly. Cheers

    • It actually depends on your film ISO setting!

      You’ll notice that the ISO setting is integrated with the compensation dial. Ingenious!

      But when you turn the compensation dial, you cannot turn it past the highest or lowest ISO setting.

      So, if you’re on the minimum ISO (25?), you cannot have more negative compensation, and if you have it set to the maximum ISO (6400?), you cannot have more positive compensation.

      At least, that’s my memory. It’s been a long time since I had one, having moved to the OM-4Ti.

  • I just bought a Canon DSLR and went to the basement to retrieve an older EOS lens. While there I ran across my old Olympus cameras and lenses…packed away a very long time ago. WOW! My OM1, OM2n, OM2s, OM3, OM4 and wonderful ZUIKO lenses from wide angle to 1000mm, including shift, maybe 17 or 18 of them and a motor drive too. And many other Olympus accessories as well. I had almost forgotten what I had. They are beautiful! I’ve spent the last two days playing with my “new find,” rediscovering them all aver again. While my new 7d sits unused in its box. Life is strange.

  • I traded an Nikon FM in on an Olympus OM2n in 1980. I bought the 50mm f1.8 and flash with it. I have used it regularly since then except for when I thought digital was kind in the years between 2002-2010. I have never had this camera serviced and it works perfectly. I do check and replace the batteries every couple of years. I did add a second one from ebay with a motor drive and a few lenses about 2 years ago. I may add at some point one of the more weather sealed OM4s. And if Olympus ever gets off the micro sensor kick and puts a 35mm sensor in a digital I might buy one of those. When I did finally buy a DSLR about 5 years ago I ended up with a Nikon DX. I really wanted an Olympus, but did not like the smaller sensor or EVF.

  • I entered the world of film photography last summer when I purchased a chrome-body OM1 at an antique market for $50. Now I have over a dozen film cameras. The film rewind fell apart (a problem I can’t seem to fix) so I recently purchased a black body OM2 with a “stepless” apeture 50/1.4 lens. It’s a beauty and I’m going through my 1st roll of film now. There are other fine cameras on my shelf: an AE1-P, Pentax K1000, some great range finders, but the my OM cameras have a unique hold on me the others can’t match. I refer to them frequently on forums as “industrial art”!!!

  • This article confirmed that I was so right to buy an OM2n in mint condition earlier today. Can’t wait to start using it.

  • As a side note, you can actually use the apertures in between the marked ones, just stop before it clicks in the next one and shoot away it’ll work fine. My one complaint is that it doesn’t have a shutter button lock, I’ve had a few frames lost because I accidentally fired the shutter by mishandling the camera or my kids might fire one off by pressing the button. I’m a proud owner of a chrome OM-2n and a OM-2S.

    • Shubroto Bhattacharjee October 17, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Hi, Rudy!
      The great Yoshihisa Maitani resolutely refused to provide a shutter lock on his OM designs.
      He reasoned that a lock could cause a missed shot, which was a punishment far worse than an inadvertent shot. 🙂

      • Thank you, Yoshihisa. I have numerous photos of the inside of my camera bag, thanks to you! 🙂

        A bigger downside is that the camera consumes battery power when the shutter is open, and if it’s set to automatic, it will stay open in your camera bag for 120 seconds or more when you inadvertently trip the shutter. Do this enough times, and your battery is dead.

  • I love the OM2. The form factor, the simplicity. I have a plethora of cameras, but the OM2 is by far the one I use the most. The zuiko prime lenses are also very nice and robust. Until it breaks, I never need another camera.
    Here are some shots: https://visuelleslogbuch.de/tag/olympus-om-2/

  • Recently found a beautiful OM2 in an antiques shop in Oslo with the standard Zuiko 50/1.8 all in perfect working order and very good condition! Paid 700 NOK (75€) for it, think was a good deal :)) Love the compactness of this camera and the very fine design. Feels good in the hands and very easy and intuitive to use!

  • hey i don’t know if you still read these comments but i saw u made reviews for both the canon ae-1 and olympus om2n and i was wondering which one you think is better for long terms of use bc i heard the canon breaks down quite often

    • The Olympus is more reliable and a better camera overall. Hope this helps.

      • Hi James, 

        Between canon A1 and Om2, would the second be your choice? Or would you go with some Minolta… Pentax. 

        I can have one camera right now but find impossible to choose. Reading all your articles over and over just to realise I’d have one of each 😂.

        But for now, one camera. That makes shooting a pleasure with a bit more than a reliable light meter, A priority a must. What the first one that’s comes to your mind? 

        Appreciate your help and the amazing work you share here  

        • Happy to help! This is a tough question though. So I’ll answer directly. Between the A1 and the OM2 I would pick the A1. It offers more, and in my experience, is more reliable.

          If I were picking from zero, and didn’t have any lenses already for a certain system, my ideal manual focus era camera is the Nikon FM3a (or if I’m trying to stick to a budget, the Nikon FE2).

          In autofocus era, my choice is probably a Minolta A7.

    • A HUGE difference is that the OM-2(n) is aperture-priory, whereas the AE-1 is shutter-priority.

      You might think all that means is that if you shoot for depth-of-field, the Olympus is better, but if you shoot for stop-action, the Canon is better, but there’s a huge practical thing to consider.

      Most lenses only have 7-8 stops of aperture available to them, but most bodies have at least eleven stops of shutter speed available, from 1 second to 1/1000th. (Note that the Olympus has at least seven stops more than that, if you count automatic speeds slower than one second!)

      So letting your camera control the shutter speed has a much wider range of lighting in which it is useful, than letting your camera control the aperture.

  • While the Olymopus OM system was quite an accomplishment, there are several quirks and weaknesses that severely limited its acceptance. It never caught on with pros. The lens designs were superb, but the mounts were weak. The advance lever was rough. The shutter speed selection dial around the lens was a poor choice (though not unique). The aperture selection ring at the front of the lens was odd, and could not be carried through with long lenses.

    • The Olympus OM system was used by some pros, one I certainly know of is the late Patrick, Lord Lichfield, a cousin of the Queen, through the Bowes Lyon family. Don McCullin, now a Sir, took up the system after seeing how light it was compared to his Nikon F outfit. There’s a short video on YouTube showing him using Olympus cameras and lenses in Whitechapel, London, possibly 70s or early 80s. He was taking photographs of down and outs.

    • Oh, c’mon, now! Even a gorilla could use it!


      I actually think the shutter speed around the lens was absolutely brilliant. You don’t have to remove your right hand from the shutter to reach up and twist a knob on the top of the camera!

      I have NEVER had a problem with Olympus OM mounts, although I have had issues with certain third-party OM mounts — can’t blame that on Olympus!

  • Awesome review. I found my Olympus on-2n in my car lol! No idea how I got it and no one I knew had any clue where it came from. Coincidentally I have an Olympus E520 that I bought an adapter for and used old film lenses on and they all fit on the om! Have had so much fun with it since and the pictures look amazing, especially though the 300mm!

  • I’ve been using my OM2N for many years and love it. I’ve also got into architecture recently so bought the 35mm f2.8 Zuiko shift lens last week. I’m a bit concerned that on Auto mode the camera’s display doesn’t respond to changes in aperture.
    For example if it tells me the correct speed is 125 at f22, it tells me the same thing at f2.8….!
    What’s going on? Can anyone help???

    • I assume you’re only having problems with the OM-2n metering with the 35mm ƒ/2.8 shift?

      If so, that’s because the shift lens (like it’s bigger brother, the 24mm ƒ/3.5 shift) does not have an automatic aperture, and does not communicate aperture settings to the body. Any other OM Zuiko than the two shifts should show proper changes in the meter.

      But still, when you turn the aperture ring, the display should get dimmer (unlike with automatic-aperture lenses), and the meter should show the difference, no?

  • Though the lenses performed well, neither the bodies nor the lenses were very rugged.

    • Enver I find it amusing your comment about the OM bodies and lenses not being very rugged. I have an Olympus OM2n I bought new with a 50mm f1.8 in 1980. Both that lens and body still works quite well and has never been serviced. Even though I have had and do have a number of cameras the Olympus OM2n is still my favorite. It is very simple and easy to use plus takes very good pictures. Is it as good as a Leica, I have no idea and don’t care.

      I have been trying to find a digital DSLR / mirrorless system I like as well for 6 or 7 years now. I have been through 3 Nikons and now a Sony A7iii with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8. I have had the Sony for a couple of months and have adapted 5 good Minolta lenses to it. The quality of the images are very good from the Sony, but the system as a whole is about 100 times more complicated than the OM2n and does not fit as well in my hands. I keep waiting for Olympus to make a simple full frame digital that is like the OM2n except with a full frame digital sensor. I guess the Leica M10 fits that description. But I like auto focus, stabilized bodies or lenses, and have the price less than $15,000.

    • That was not my experience, having use OM bodies and lenses in backpacking, hang-gliding, skiing, and rock-climbing.

      I took some German friends to Silver Falls State Park, in Oregon. They had a rental car. When we got there, Renate and I put our cameras on the trunk while we got our packs and such organized. Heiner was rummaging around for something in the glove box, and accidentally pulled the trunk release.

      The trunk lid popped up, and both our cameras tumbled to the tarmac.

      Her plastic Nikon body had a big crack in it, and her plastic Nikon lens literally broke in two!

      I picked up my unharmed OM-2n with the 90mm macro, and took a picture of her broken camera for her insurance claim.

  • Medhavi Nagakumar March 10, 2019 at 9:07 am

    My mother enjoyed photography in her early 20s, she broke her bank to buy the OM2, most of my most cherished childhood photos have been taken on this amazing camera. Now she is 55 and still trapped working a desk job. I am looking forward to gifting her a new camera, but confused which one to, since i know very little abobut cameras, since you understand this camera could you suggest me a replacement? That would be great. Loved the article 🙂

  • Hendrik Anne Zwart July 28, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Excellent article. Really have enjoyed reading this and I just have ordered an in mint condition Olympus OM 2n and the 50mm f1.4 Really looking forward to go back to analog again and think about the images you take. Will repair my Olympus Trip 35 and continue to shoot with the lastet Olympus gear. Olympus is just such a great innovative company.

  • Bought my OM-1n new back in the day; still going strong. Probably only had 5 new batteries in it’s life. Nowadays I use LR-44’s with a voltage converter, metering still more than good enough for shooting transparencies. Got a OM-2n about 5 years ago and have to admit it has won my heart. Slow films in sunny!! England mean multiple second exposures. Tried a 2-SP but battery life was verging on criminal and the extra facilities do not outweigh the downsides. The 2n is surely the best starter camera, and that’s before we even talk about using flash. It simply takes care of that without us simpletons having to engage brain at all. oops, am I coming over as a bit of a fan 🙂

  • Hi James,

    What is the strap you’ve got on the camera? That’s a nice looking piece.

    I am currently prepping my recently acquired OM2n for a trip to Thailand, and am excited about putting it through it’s paces. Hardest decision left to make is what film to pack! Open to suggestions.

    Thank you for the well-written review, it helped me choose to pickup the Olympus.

  • Michael S. Goldfarb March 18, 2021 at 11:27 am

    After not shooting it for a decade in favor of my Nikon F2, I pulled out my OM-2 last year, and shot several rolls of Tri-X with the 24/2.8, 35/2, and 100/2.8 lenses. Quick impressions:

    Compared to schlepping around the heavy, built-to-survive-the-apocalypse F2, the OM-2 is SO small and light! A real pleasure to carry, and ergonomic perfection, control-wise. (I have loved having the shutter speed ring around the lensmount since my Nikkormat days.)

    I shot everything in Auto mode… and didn’t get a single badly exposed shot. One of the greatest metering systems ever made.

    You can’t beat those Zuikos. Especially the 35, and even more especially, the 100. (It’s like the fabled Nikkor 105/2.5… but half the size/weight.) Fantastic images from all of them.

    Look, I’m an Olympus guy from way back – I also shoot with a Pen F and Stylus Epic – but even I was frankly surprised by how enjoyable the OM-2 was to shoot, and how great the resulting images were! Why Olympus was always considered somehow “behind” Nikon, Canon, etc., never made any sense to me.

    Maitani lives!

  • Nice write-up. I have my granddad’s OM1N and have an OM2N arriving today, as I really like aperture priority automation. I tried an OMG (which was faulty) and an OM10. (which had no AE lock nor exposure compensation feature, nor even a +1.5 stop button, ala Nikon EM and FG) I had an OM4, back in the 90s, but it was overly complicated. (although great for those complicated lighting situations when you have time to mess around)

  • Sveiki! Arī pie manis ir nonākusi šī kamere olympus OM 2N, gribu to vairāk iepazīt. Paldies par komentāriem.

  • In the 80s I started with an OM10, no Aperture readout in viewfinder, to correct Exposure you have to pull that asa knob, no manual Speed set. Rubbish!
    Next OM1: Winder didnt work opened base plate, found flimsy levers in a pro spec Camera? In the meantime I Need glasses, there is no viewfinder on any OM providing eye Relief, it’s a pain.
    Finally got an F3HP which serves all purposes well.

  • Greetings James! Lovely written article about a lovely camera.
    After years collecting Zuikos to shoot on my 5D, I’ve just decided to go for a OM-2n to be able to use them as they were intended to.
    My first Zuiko was a dirt cheap 50 1.8 in pretty bad shape I got some 12 years ago, and nevertheless I fell in love with it. Since then, the OM family kept of course growing.
    The first impressions I had operating the camera are the same I had with the lenses: great quality and thoughtful functionality. I am looking forward to load some film and see if the exposure in this particular sample is still spot-on.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio