Olympus OM10 : A compact entry level camera

The Olympus OM10 was the first consumer end camera of the OM series released in 1979. With many of the same design elements and features of their flagship OM-1, the OM10 is a solid performer with a lower price-point designed to get the attention of entry-level photographers.

History

Olympus is a Japanese company making cameras and optical products since 1919 when it was founded as Takachiho Works Co., Ltd. Their first products on the market were microscopes released in 1920 then trying to branch out and diversify the started making lenses in 1934 and finally their first camera called the Semi Olympus, released in 1936.

Olympus has a very interesting background making lenses, microscopes and high aperture lenses in 1937 which led to the release of the Zuiko 65/2.7, Falcon 65/2 and the Olympar f/1.5, produced as the Zuiko 50/1.5 and used in X-ray cameras by 1940.

Olympus released the Olympus Six and the Olympus Chrome Six 6 x 6cm medium format cameras folding cameras in 1940 and finally started creating 35mm cameras with the Olympus 35, in 1948. The Olympus 35 was like other compact cameras of the time like the Pax M4 and the Gelto DIII, but it wouldn’t be until 1972 when the OM line emerged as a revolutionary system of compact, lightweight and versatile cameras and lenses to match.

Design & function

The premise of the Olympus OM10 was to take the best parts of the OM-1 to create a compact 35mm SLR with a lower price point. The OM10s design takes a lot of cues from its OM-1 big brother. The body structure is nearly identical with the controls on top being almost identical. That’s where the similarities stop. Although they look similar the construction of the OM10 is not the same quality and finish of the OM-1 and OM-2.

* There's an easy way to differentiate the Olympus consumer cameras from the more fully featured professional models. The model name is the key here; any model with a hyphen, like the OM-1, is a professional camera. The consumer line model numbers are larger with no hyphen, like the OM10.
OM10 Manual Adapter

Like the Mamiya NC1000, the Olympus OM10 has an Auto setting which is an Aperture priority mode, so the meter selects the corresponding shutter speed for your selected aperture. There is also a Bulb setting and then a setting for the Manual Adapter. The manual adapter connects to the front left of the OM10 and gives you control over the shutter speed directly giving you a range from 1s to to 1/1000s. The ISO range of the OM10 is from 25 to 1600.

If you decide to purchase on OM10 make sure to get the FC model and that it comes with the Manual Adapter. The adapter really makes this camera worthwhile for the cost.

One of the things that makes the Olympus OM10 so light weight is the heavy use of plastic parts. For instance, all of the control knobs are plastic, the film advance lever is plastic and the whole front of the camera where the lens mounting ring is located is also plastic, but the OM bayonet mount itself is steel.

Using the Olympus OM10

Shooting with the Olympus OM10 is not unlike other 35mm film cameras, it has a few quirks to it though. It’s not entirely clear what the electronics control when powered on. The light meter needs the camera to be powered on, but the shutter fires at correct speeds regardless, so I’m left to wonder if the aperture stops down with no juice – or if it just stays wide open.

OM10 power switch

The OM10s power switch has 4 settings; Self timer, off, on and check. This does two things; it activates the electronic shutter system and the light meter. The self timer counts down 12 seconds before tripping the shutter, and is activated by rotating the small dial on the front right of the camera body. And finally, the battery check emits a tone as long as the battery is strong.

The OM10 has a battery saving feature as well and it goes to asleep after a period of inactivity. The activator switch around the shutter release turns the light meter on after it goes to sleep just by touching it.

** Using the Olympus OM10 in AUTO mode can result in much longer exposures than the longest manual setting of 1 second.
Olympus OM10 controls
Olympus OM10 controls

Setting the camera to AUTO allows the camera to set the proper shutter speed to your aperture selection. The LED inside the prism finder shows you the shutter speed the camera will be using. There are also M (manual) and B (bulb) settings. Using manual mode you will be setting the shutter speed using the Manual Adapter attached to the left front of the camera. This adapter gives the OM10 shutter speeds from 1s to 1/1000s. Moving the mode dial is a bit cumbersome and must be done with the film advance lever partially extended. It gives me the impression that the camera is designed to be used in Auto mode over the other two settings.

Just like 98% of all other manual 35mm SLR cameras the film advance cocks the shutter. The OM10 has a two stage film advance lever which, I suspect is supposed to lock the shutter release. I don’t know this for sure though since mine doesn’t operate that way and I can’t find any reference to it, so the only way to be sure to not take unintended photos is to not advance the film and cock the shutter.

Olympus Zuiko lenses

Like the other cameras in the OM line, the OM10 makes use of the myriad of lenses built for the system and range from an 8mm Fisheye to a 1,000mm Super Telephoto lens. The lenses have the depth of field preview button located on the lens instead of the camera body like many other cameras. The OM mount lenses also vary from a very shallow f/1.2 to an uncommon f/45. My OM10 came with a 24mm f/3.5 macro.

Olympus Zuiko lens

The Olympus OM line Zuiko lenses feature multi-coated elements and a large opening bayonet mount. The Zuiko lenses are more compact when compared to their Nikon and Canon counterparts; a big part of what made the OM series revolutionary. Unlike contemporary lens design the differentiation between consumer and professional grade is determined by the maximum aperture. For instance, the 55mm f/1.2 Zuiko is a professional level lens while the 50mm f/1.8 was the consumer level lens.

The Zuiko lenses are sharp and well made and have held up remarkably well over the years. Even the consumer lenses benefit from the compact design unlike, for instance, many aftermarket lenses available at the time. Fortunately, getting into an Olympus OM line camera like the OM-1 or OM10 is very reasonable, and even the lenses are extremely affordable with the average lens going for less than $100.

Conclusion

The release of the Olympus OM system was revolutionary in its compact and light weight design and started with the OM-1 in 1972. In 1979 the Olympus OM10 was released stirring things up again with a new, full featured light-weight consumer level 35mm film camera that could take full advantage of the OM lenses.

The OM10 enjoyed a fairly long run being discontinued in 1987 and it only saw one model bump in the OM10 Quartz. As far as the camera itself, it’s pretty limited if you’re looking for a manual camera that allows for expansion or customization and you’re better off looking at the OM-1, OM-2, OM-3 or OM-4. However, if you’re looking for something to get your kid into photography and don’t have a preference for manufacturer, the OM10 is an excellent option as a introduction to 35mm film photography.



Specifications

General

Olympus OM10
Type : Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Production : 1979 – 1987
Film : 35mm
Weight : 1 lb
Shutter : Focal plane
Shutter speeds : B, 1s – 1/1000s
Lens mount : OM bayonet
Batteries : 2 x LR44
ISO Range : 25 – 1600
Finder field view : 93%
Strap lugs : yes
Remote shutter : mechanical

Available in Silver and Black

Accessories

Winder 2 : increase speed to 2.5 fps
T32 : Electronic flash
T20 : Electronic flash
Case : Leather case with strap
Eye-cup : oversized rubber eye-cup
OM Auto Bellows
OM Slide copier
OM 65-110 variable extension tube
OM Roll film stage

Download the OM10 manual


Prime Lenses

Zuiko 8mm Fisheye
Angle of view : 180° circle
Elements : 11 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/22
Filter size : built-in

Zuiko 16mm MC Fisheye
Angle of view : 180°
Elements : 11 front / 8 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/22
Filter size : built-in

Zuiko 18mm MC
Angle of view : 100°
Elements : 11 front / 9 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/16
Filter size : 72mm

Zuiko 20mm MC Macro
Angle of view : 9° at highest mag.
Elements : 4 front / 3 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/16
Filter size : 21mm slide on

Zuiko 21mm MC
Angle of view : 92°
Elements : 11 front / 9 rear
Aperture range : f/2 – f/16
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 21mm MC
Angle of view : 92°
Elements : 7 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 24mm MC
Angle of view : 84°
Elements : 10 front / 8 rear
Aperture range : f/2 – f/16
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 24mm MC
Angle of view : 84°
Elements : 8 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 28mm MC
Angle of view : 75°
Elements : 9 front / 8 rear
Aperture range : f/2 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 28mm MC
Angle of view : 75°
Elements : 7 front / 6 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 35mm MC
Angle of view : 63°
Elements : 8 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/2 – f/16
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 35mm MC
Angle of view : 63°
Elements : 7 front / 6 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 35mm MC Shift
Angle of view : 63° (83° at max shift)
Elements : 8 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 38mm MC Macro
Angle of view : 9° at highest mag.
Elements : 4 front / 3 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/16
Filter size : 32mm slide on

Zuiko 55mm
Angle of view : 43°
Elements : 7 front / 6 rear
Aperture range : f/1.2 – f/16
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 50mm MC
Angle of view : 47°
Elements : 7 front / 6 rear
Aperture range : f/1.4 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 50mm MC
Angle of view : 47°
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/1.8 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 50mm MC Macro
Angle of view : 47°
Elements : 5 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 80mm MC 1:1 Macro
Angle of view : 9° at highest mag.
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/4 – f/32
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 135mm MC Macro
Angle of view : 18°
Elements : 5 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/4.5 – f/45
Filter size : 49mm

Telephoto Lenses

Zuiko 85mm MC
Angle of view : 29°
Elements : 5 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/2 – f/16
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 100mm MC
Angle of view : 24°
Elements : 5 front / 5 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 135mm
Angle of view : 18°
Elements : 5 front / 5 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/22
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 135mm MC
Angle of view : 18°
Elements : 5 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/3.5 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 180mm MC
Angle of view : 14°
Elements : 5 front /5 rear
Aperture range : f/2.8 – f/32
Filter size : 72mm

Zuiko 200mm MC
Angle of view : 12°
Elements : 5 front /4 rear
Aperture range : f/4 – f/32
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 200mm MC
Angle of view : 12°
Elements : 6 front / 5 rear
Aperture range : f/5 – f/32
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 300mm MC
Angle of view : 8°
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/4.5 – f/32
Filter size : 72mm

Zuiko 400mm MC
Angle of view : 6°
Elements : 5 front / 5 rear
Aperture range : f/6.3 – f/32
Filter size : 72mm

Zuiko 600mm MC
Angle of view : 4°
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/6.5 – f/32
Filter size : 100mm

Zuiko 1000mm MC
Angle of view : 2.5°
Elements : 5 front / 5 rear
Aperture range : f/11- f/45
Filter size : 100mm

*** The 2XA Teleconverter is designed for use with the 100m f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8, 135mm f/3.5, 200m f/4, 200mm f/5.

Zoom Lenses

S Zuiko 28 – 48mm Zoom
Angle of view : 75° – 49°
Elements : 8 front / 8 rear
Aperture range : f/4 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 35 – 70mm MC Zoom
Angle of view : 63° – 34°
Elements : 10 front / 8 rear
Aperture range : f/3.6 – f/22
Filter size : 55m

S Zuiko 35 – 70mm MC Zoom
Angle of view : 63° – 34°
Elements : 7 front / 7 rear
Aperture range : f/4 – f/22
Filter size : 55mm

Zuiko 75 – 150mm Zoom
Angle of view : 32° – 16°
Elements : 15 front / 11 rear
Aperture range : f/4 – f/22
Filter size : 49mm

S Zuiko 100 – 200mm Zoom
Angle of view : 24° – 12°
Elements : 9 front / 6 rear
Aperture range : f/5 – f/32
Filter size : 49mm

Zuiko 85 – 250mm MC Zoom
Angle of view : 29° – 10°
Elements : 15 front / 11 rear
Aperture range : f/5 – f/32
Filter size : 55mm

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: