Second Hand News: My Junk Shop Cameras

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Charity shop cameras can be treasures or duds. A few weeks ago, a visit to my favourite charity shop netted two twenty-dollar cameras which came home in a brown paper bag. The booty: two Olympus OM1s—one silver and one black. Why bother with such old cameras? The answer is emotion; in December 1981 I bought my first Olympus camera which stayed with me until it was stolen from my car. It was replaced by an OM2 and later by an OM4.

Once home with my new purchases, the romance faded quickly. Looking through one camera showed something like a dark island sitting at the bottom of the view finder. Thirty seconds of research showed that the “island” was foam rubber dissolving inside prism and eating the silvered mirror. More research showed that if properly equipped, I could remove it.

camera_toolsTwo tutorials, one video with Fix Old Cameras and an article on Olympus.dementix.org, showed how to do it. Repeated viewings convinced me, with some misgivings, that I could do it. A visit to Amazon produced the tools needed—two spanner wrenches and some cross point screw drivers.

I put the first camera into a white baking dish with a paper towel under the camera—the paper towel is stop any dropped parts from bouncing out of the dish. The white dish was to stop any loose parts from rolling on to the floor and the white sides made it easier to see the pieces.

I followed the Youtube video, with frequent pauses. The video is just under nine minutes, but it took me just over one hour to remove the top cover and the disintegrating (and very sticky) foam rubber and then replace the cover. The next day it took an hour to repeat the process on the second OM1.

I learned a few things: first, I could actually do it and second, while black cameras are super-sexy, they are much, much more tricky to work on than silver cameras. Why? Black cameras have black screws and just try putting a tiny black screw into a black hole which is in a black camera top.

Despite this initial success, I am not fiddling with the electrics to allow the use of modern batteries. These two charity shop finds will be used as purely manual cameras with a hand-held exposure meter.

A quick walk around the neighbourhood  testing the two cameras with Ilford (black and white), Fuji Color and Kodak Portra films, followed by an impatient wait for the pictures to come back from the developer, showed that the two twenty-dollar cameras can still produce the goods.

Test shots. First, the Olympus OM1 with Fuji Film

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Olympus OM1, Fuji Film

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Olympus OM1, Fuji Film

Now the Olympus OM1N

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Olympus OM1N, Ilford XP2

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Olympus OM1N, Kodak Portra

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