Why I love the OM1

I use just two 35mm cameras. One is my Trip 35 and the other is the OM1. 

Why have I chosen the OM1 then? It is like a jewel of a camera, so well designed and lovely to hold. That viewfinder is amazing - it is one of the largest in a 35mm SLR. The metering is so simple - just a needle to line up by adjusting the shutter and aperture. 

This camera is just beautiful to look at and to use. It is pretty small for an SLR camera. This was one of the main selling points when it was released. Compared to a similar Nikon or Minolta, it is really cute. All the dials are solid, made from metal, not like modern cameras with plastic buttons. 

It feels solid in your hands. It is made of metal. It inspires confidence. It looks the part - professional photographers used it back in the 1970s and 1980's. Jane Bown, a famous portrait and documentary photographer used just OM1 cameras. Her images are gorgeous and if an OM1 was good enough for her, then it is good enough for me!Jane Bown with one of her trusty Om1's

I like the fact that it is completely mechanical. It will work without batteries, so you can take it anywhere. It just needs a battery for the light meter and it has a simple on-off switch for that. All shutter speeds will work without the battery, from 1 to 1/1000 second. The shutter speeds are selected using the dial on the front of the camera. This becomes instinctive once you start shooting with the OM1. 

I love the fact that it is a manual-only camera. No auto settings. You have complete control over the exposure by manually setting aperture and shutter speeds. This allows you to be creative and makes you think about the settings. It slows things down slightly, but this is a good thing in my opinion. Each frame has to be thought about. I am a control freak! I want to set the exposure my way, not how some computer in a camera wants me to.

This is a true 'system' camera. The amount of accessories and lenses is amazing. And they are all built to the same high standard as the camera. The Zuiko lenses are beautiful, nice and compact but high quality glass. The OM1 has interchangeable focus screens, so you can swap the plain one for one that suits you. Maybe you want a grid pattern or you want the split focus in the centre. The flash hot-shoe is removable. It takes a range of Olympus flash guns, or you can use another brand. My OM1N MD also takes a motor drive. 

Using the camera is a joy. It fits in my hands perfectly and the buttons are reassuringly solid to click. The shutter dial makes it easy to change speed without taking your eye from the viewfinder. I love the soft clunk the mirror makes when you fire the shutter. You really feel the quality of the machine.

And that is what I love most about the OM1. It just works - but it does so in style.