Category Archives: History

Oh so Populaire.

Well since I just posted a couple of “modern” Canon cameras I thought that there should be another presentation of the olden days … these new fangled techno cameras are just too much sometimes.

In 1959 a “cheap” rangefinder was produced by Canon … P for Populaire. Canon had made 30 LTM cameras before this model (the Canon 7 ended this) and decided to make a V/L-series camera that was most affordable.

In contrast to the Canon A-1, it has no intelligence other than the human behind it … if you have ever had one you would not say it you would not say it is handicapped by it.

Anyway, here is a monochrome image of my P … no, not that kinda peee!!



Canon A-1 … hexamodal sauce.

As I mentioned in my talk about the AE-1, Canon was on a new track with electronic advancements in their cameras.  In 1978 they released their third A-series camera, the Canon A-1.

Like the AE-1, it relied a lot on advanced electronics and was also a melding of metal and plastic but more metal this time (like the top plate_. The A-1 was designed as a step up in build and electronic advancement. The Canon A-1 was the first SLR camera with automatic program AE mode, actually it offered five AE modes, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program, stopped-down, and electronic flash … hmmm, reminds me of Spinal Tap, though it doesn’t have 11.

It also offered a “high tech” space age LED readout … though Fujica was actually the first ones to do so in 1974. The camera’s primary control was it’s AE input dial. This one dial controls both the aperture, shutter speed, and sets the auto exposure mode … the aperture dial on the lens is only used in full manual mode.

These changes made the A-1 the most advanced shooter, at the time. The main control dial, auto exposure, and advanced LED readout … hmm, sounds like our modern cameras. You can definitely “feel” the difference when using it compared to the other A’s. The Canon A-1 continued production up to 1982 when the T-series was released.


OMG … Yoshi.

What do you get when you put together a Mechanical Engineer, and a photography enthusiast who built their own camera … Yoshihisa Maitani … actually before he became a Mechanical Engineer, he built a camera, and also patented design upgrades for his Leica IIIf.

Yoshihisa was spotted by Eiichi Sakurai, who happened to be Director and Head of Camera Development at Olympus. In 1959 he joined Olympus. A couple of years later he was let loose to design his own 35mm SLR … well he was the guy who designed the first Olympus SLR camera, the Pen FT and lead the way to the famous Zuiko optical lenses. Later on he also designed the awesome XA and Stylus (I’ve had both).

Anyway … this post is about OM (though the Pen would also make a great story).

yoshihasaMaitaniAfter his success with the Olympus Pen camera and Zuiko lenses, Yoshihisa was the chief camera designer and in 1967 endeavored to make a full-frame 35mm SLR. Like the Pen, he wanted something smaller, quieter, better than all those other SLR’s out there … it also needed to be a versatile system of lenses and accessories designed around it to be able to take pictures of everything.

5 years later Olympus brought out the M-1 system … well for a short time it was called that until Leitz found out … OK, lets now call it the OM-1.

All mechanical (it did have a light meter) … it was about 30% smaller and lighter than other SLR cameras. The camera was still designed to be tough enough to hand high shutter rates and also be adaptable to numerous accessories and lenses.

One thing that always throws me off is that they moved the shutter speed dial as a ring in front of the lens (kind… but since they put the high/low speed control mechanisms at the bottom of the mirrorbox, it now it makes sense why the speed dial is where it is.

Your left hand can adjust shutter speed, focus, and aperture (even stopping down the aperture) … with an Olympus OM-1 your right hand is just a side-kick.

OK, so lets jump to the OM-2.

Same body as the OM-1 but this one added semi-automatic exposure. Of course they really had to be on top of things, so they made an OTF metering system … WTF … off the film plane metering. The camera had multiple sensors that would read light reflected off the crazy QR code looking pattern on the shutter curtain, and also ones that would read directly from the film (they researched all the various film types for their reflectance and found very little variance) … even with flash.

Oh, and the 97% viewfinder is huge and bright. There are three different exposure displays that switch out depending on what mode you set with the switch.

Compared to other cameras of this time, it is an awesomely designed camera … I think the only complaint anyone has about the early OM series is the crunchy film advance mechanism.

The particular model that I have is the OM-2 MD … the MD part is not labeled on the camera but the bottom plate has the removable cap for the motor drive coupling.


Olympus … Release the Kraken !!!

Somebody gonna getta birthday this year … their 100th birthday to be exact.

I just realized that I have not done a historical post about Olympus, and now I will … though I won’t be really repeating what they have already said.

Here is the brief for those that can’t be bothered to look over that link:

  • In 1919 Takeshi Yamashita establishes company named Takachiho Seisakusho.
  • First company logo name was Towika.
  • They made microscopes and other similar products.
  • Then a couple of years later they thought Olympus was a cooler name.
  • In 1936 they decided to make a camera … I am not exactly sure why.
  • 1949 Olympus Optical
  • Some time in the 50’s they thought a camera that can take a picture of your gut was a good thing … so they made the first practical gastrocamera.

Uhhggg, I just got bored of this … blah, blah, blah … I am just repeating info you can read online … just go and Google.

Ok, so the story is that Olympus is a optical imaging company … very well balanced in the medical field and the photographic field.

I have always thought Olympus has the coolest looking cameras and lenses … they didn’t seem to fit the same mold as everyone else. Like lens odd focal lengths of 350mm, or the large handful of macro lenses … and who puts a shutter speed dial on the front of an SLR lens mount !!! I still yearn to have an OM-4T … not sure why, but I want one.

Hmmm, memories of the late 90’s trickling in my head … getting my hands on the first real digital “camera” … it actually felt and functioned like a camera … the C-400. That’s when I thought this whole digital thing could actually take off.

… and don’t get me started on the O-Product.

Nikon FE … lacks power.

So, I got a Nikon cause it was listed as “for pieces or repair”. I’ve don’t tend to get more modern cameras but it was going for a pretty fair price so I though I would try to repair one of these more electronic ones … well I was disappointed after I showed up !!!

The camera does not power up … hmm. It is missing a battery holder/cover. So I hunted around and found a replacement part …  and a couple of LR44 batteries … I really didn’t even have to clean the damn thing.

The only reason I am posting this is because it is a nice looking camera that also works great.

The Nikon FE came out 1 year after the FM, in 1978 … hmm, this camera is younger than I am. It shares much of the same body construction, and it is much more electronic. The FE has an electronic shutter (plus mechanical 1/90s + bulb) and offers aperture priority and manual exposure using a match needle system. It, like the FM, can handle Ai and non-Ai lenses (unlike the FE2) using stop-down metering.

You will notice that, like the FM, the model name is discrete. Nikon decided not to splash it in bold letters on the front like most other cameras (look for the tiny FE/FM beside the serial number on the back) … hmm, I wonder why? … oh, and it has a little dent (wasn’t me).