Collecting Cameras

My Olympus OM-1 is back from repair and CLA

Late last year I checked all of my cameras for proper functioning and was disappointed to find that seven of them needed repair. One of them was my Olympus OM-1. This camera was a gift from a longtime friend in 2011 and I’ve put about one roll of film through it every year since. The last time was in 2020, and it worked great. When I checked it late last year, the meter was reading several stops off.

I sent it to John Hermanson at Camtech Photo Services. He repaired the meter and cleaned, lubed, and adjusted (CLA’d) the body. He also adapted the body to use a 1.55-volt SR44 silver-oxide battery. That’s a handy upgrade — the OM-1 natively takes a 1.35-volt 625 mercury cell, and those haven’t been available for a long time.

When I got the OM-1 back, I loaded some Fujicolor 200 into it and carried it everywhere I went until I spent the roll.

Olympus OM-1 and a whiskey

The camera worked beautifully, of course. Here are some images I made with the 50mm f/1.8 F.Zuiko Auto-S lens.

Denny's
Welcome to McDonald's
Red barn
Knight
Father and daughter

I mounted my 21mm f/3.5 Zuiko Auto-W lens for a few frames because I hardly use it and I want to get to know it better.

55
Power Tower
No Outlet

My OM-1 was in great condition when I got it, and I took good care of it over the years I’ve owned it. But after CLA, all of the controls were next-level smooth and sure.

For most casual photography I reach for my cameras that have an aperture-priority mode, such as my Olympus OM-2n. Match-needle metering like my OM-1 offers usually feels like a hiccup step in my flow. But I didn’t feel that way at all on this roll. Shooting my CLA’d OM-1 was pure pleasure.

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12 thoughts on “My Olympus OM-1 is back from repair and CLA

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    Nothing like a recently CLA’d camera! I was never an Olympus fan in the film days, too many things to go into here, but I have to say I really adopted the Olympus M4/3rd’s system in the digital world. The camera bodies can be fiddly with confusing menu’s but I love the lenses and have a lot of the primes. The reason I mention it here, is because I always thought Olympus should just build a M 4/3rds body based on the OM system. Many M 4/3rd’s bodies can be too small, and just using this size and quality as a base size would be great, and leave a lot of body surface for buttons rather than having to shift through menus.

    I’ve mentioned on here before that I spent most all my career with large format, but I have to say, if you thought 35mm film was fine, and that’s what you used, you should be perfectly happy with M 4/3rd’s digital; plenty of sensor real estate to emulate what people were getting with 35mm film.

    Have to say, I wish more camera repair specialists offered the service of resetting your camera to use modern batteries that are available. I would pay dearly for this service for my old Canon FT, as well as almost any other mercury battery camera I have sitting around here!

    • There are adapters you can buy that adjust existing batteries to the right voltage for your old cameras. They can’t make those batteries have the same degradation curve as the old mercury batteries, but at least you’ll be getting the right exposures while the battery is strong.

  2. Kodachromeguy says:

    These OM cameras were very elegant and compact. Sadly, the various OM2 versions that we used at the office did not prove to be very robust. But their users took them to damp places and were not careful camera enthusiasts. The cameras are long gone.

    • Used to be, when a camera broke I just sold it for parts and moved on. But now I’ve thinned my collection to the cameras I use and love. They’re worth investing in!

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