July 1st, 2024

The OM-1N

Olympus OM-1N
Olympus OM-1N

Well, this is the last of the "refactor your hobby" part of the spoils from the Q2 sale: An Olympus OM-1N in Excellent+ condition with an F.Zuiko 50mm/f1.8 lens.

It hasn't had a mercury battery conversion done, but I've got an MR-9 adapter en route, so it is going to sit quietly on the shelf until that can get here. I was sort of bummed all the orders to get lens, camera, battery, and adapter didn't come together in time to take it out this past weekend with Al's first X-700 outing, because I might have been a better coach if I'd been in analog mode myself. As it was, I stated a few rules of thumb in a manner that, well, you forget how much stuff you internalize and confusing some of the language is. If I'd been working through my own film thought process out loud, it would have prevented a regrettable but not fatal shutter speed thing.

As I thought about wading back into film, I weighed getting one of these or a Pentax K1000. The K1000 would be the more practical call, especially considering the battery situation and because I already have a K-mount adapter for my Fujifilm cameras,  but the more I read about the OM-1N, the more compelling it seemed both as an artifact from a particular moment, and as a tool in its own right.

I also dithered briefly about maybe splitting the difference and going for an OM-2N (no battery issue, more sophisticated metering and modes, including aperture priority), but I guess I was feeling like a purist when I decided on the final state of my shopping cart, which had all three candidates in it while I ran up the tab count.

About the MR-9 adapter, I ended up ordering mine from CrisCam. Blue Moon here in Portland is out of stock. Ebay is lousy with them, but they all seem to be shipped from outside the US so there are 30 and 40 day lead times. The brand retailers seem to stock and generally agree works well is KANTO.

The apparent trick to these things is to get one that actually steps down the voltage of an adapted battery from 1.5v to 1.35v. The ones you can order for $9 on Amazon do not do that: They're basically just a metal spacer with no step-down circuitry; so for some applications the difference in voltage will throw off the camera's light meter even if the battery fits the compartment  Reports are mixed on how much that affects the OM-1/OM-1Ns. I didn't feel like finding out.

It took a while to ferret out those two paragraphs, including a tour through one forum that at some point migrated all its content and escaped all the markup in the comments in the  process, which was eye-crossing.

Online retailers are not generally forthcoming about the brand they're selling. If you want to go straight to the source, here's your link. Given exchange rates, the adapter costs $20, and airmail to the US is another $5. If you want a rush order with a tracking number, it's more like $20 for shipping (or, about what you'd pay to buy it retail in the US with free shipping).  

I also ordered a few zinc-air batteries that will also serve, but I read they don't have very good life once their tab is pulled (but pretty long shelf lives before that), so they'll probably end up in the bag as backups.