When I first decided to replace my Nikon F60, I decided I wanted something smallish and quiet. Something unassuming so I could use it around the streets of Leeds without everyone hearing the motor drive. My first choice within my price range was Nikon’s FG. Then, by accident, I noticed an Olympus OM-2n for pretty much the same price as the FG! I couldn’t believe I could get a top of the range OM for the same price as a bottom of the range Nikon. Well, that seemed like a no-brainer!
I found a nice condition OM-2n with 50mm F1.8 Zuiko lens, and to make it better, the seals were renewed, which saved me a job. All for the price of a Nikon FG. Go figure!
It maybe down to personal taste, but there is something about the OM-2n that looks fantastic. It is small for an SLR and light and it oozes quality. Every button, switch and dial feels as if someone gave a damn when it was built. Not disappointed.
Being compact, my fingers tended to struggle to find a comfortable grip. Yet when out shooting with it, I didn’t notice it. I grabbed it, shot and held it without thinking or being bugged. Even with large hands, it’s nice to shoot with.
The viewfinder is big and bright and it has a match needle for metering. This is the only let down for me really – I’m not a fan of match needles as they can be hard to see. This one is particularly tough. The viewfinder appears so big, that the match needle is about a half a mile over to the left. Thankfully, metering on the OM-2n is near bullet-proof.
For adjustment in auto, a chunky exposure compensation dial sits near the shutter button that can compensate in thirds of a stop with firm clicks. Nice. The exposure compensation dial is also where the ASA is set.
For manual mode, the shutter is placed around the lens mount, which does take some getting used to if, like me, you’re used to it by the shutter. it doesn’t take long to get used to it though. The one thing I did struggle with however was the location of the aperture ring. If it had been in front of the shutter ring, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but I kept having to look for it at the front of the lens. Thankfully, many of the Zuiko zoom lenses place the aperture ring at the back of the lens.
Nice though the 50mm F1.8 is, I’m just used to zooms and so a 35-70 is on the cards at some point. Another issue I had with the 50mm was the focus ring. Although only 3/4 of a turn from minimum focus to infinity, it seems to take several turns to focus it. I found I needed to change my grip on the lens to focus it, then change my grip again to adjust the aperture. There’s no denying the image quality of the 50mm, it’s just not the easiest 50mm to focus.
If it was going to be my main lunchtime camera around Leeds, I needed to test in and around Leeds, ending up at the Central Library again. Loaded up with Fuji Pro400H colour negative film, it produced some nice results, with no over or under exposed shots.
The OM-2n earned a reputation as a reliable workhorse and I can see why. I’d rate it as the most consistent and reliable manual focus SLR I’ve ever used. It’s not perfect, but then again, what is? For the price though, this has got to be the best used manual focus SLR money can buy.