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.


Olympus OM-2 … I’m seeing spots

Ok, so I gotta OM-2 MB. It needs a bit of body cleaning, some checking of electrical functionality and bits littered in the viewfinder.

The OM-2 relies completely on the battery, so having fresh batts is best. One thing that Olympus built in was a mechanism to reset the mirror/shutter if the camera loses power. So if you are looking at the camera and see these red asterisks, you should read the User Guide to know how to use them.

While looking through the giant viewfinder I can see it littered with black spots. Some of them where on the focusing screen. There again, Olympus was great enough to design the OM’s with an interchangeable screen. A little flick of the switch and the screen pops down. Use a blower to clean off stuff … if you have to you can use a soft brush.

One soft spot on the design is that there is some foam sitting on top of the viewfinder window that degrades over time and then drops bits of stuff … well time to open it up.


The film advance lever has a black cap with two holes you can use a spanner wrench on. The black part is just a thin piece of metal that is glued on, so it may pop off. You can them pull off the advance lever.

The rewind knob has a screw under the arm … don’t remove it. Open the camera back and jam the rewind fork, then unscrew the rewind knob. You can put a piece of tape on the exposed top of the fork to keep it from falling down.

The flash socket has a ring screw that you can use your tweezers to unscrew.


Remove the two screws at the bottom of the rewind section.

Spanning tool on the securing ring for the film advance post. Note the washer sitting on top of it.

Pull the top off.


Note the spring on the left side … remember to put it back. There is also a clear plastic washer on the exposure comp dial. The flash post has a black plasic spacer and a metal one underneath it.

You will see that the flash connector has a lot of black foam under it … it probably is brittle and gooey. Remove the two screws, and carefully pull it off (with wires intact). Give it a good cleaning. You will need some replacement cushion material when you put it back.


Two screws are left that hold the viewfinder port on. Now you can take that off and clean it up … note more wires. This will also reveal the back of the prism, which you will also need to clean.

Now put it all back.

When screwing the rewind knob back on, the spring clip can move out of position so make sure it is aligned before you finally tighten it.

When you slip the top back on, you will need to pay attention to wires that have moved out of place. Tuck them back. Also note that the shutter release pin is a bit free moving, so keep an eye on where it is. If everything is sitting right you do not have to put much force on the top plate to make it sit back into position.

OK, the bottom … I didn’t need to go there. I did pop the bottom off and took a look … there are some images of this on the web if you google “OM-2 stuck shutter”, if the reset does not work.

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 50mm clean out

Since I just acquired an Olympus SLR, I needed a lens to go along with it. I was able to pick up an Olympus F.Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 that needed a cleaning.

fZuiko50mmElementsThe F means the lens has … hmm, ABCDEF … 6 elements. It’s always handy to hunt down an illustration of the elements and groups, cause if you put them in the wrong order or flip one of them around, you ain’t got much of a good lens.

With this particular lens there was black flakes littered between most of the elements, so this means I need to take it apart.

DSC00683From the back first … just to be different.

Ok, remove the three screws.

You can now lift the entire mounting ring off.



The rear element group is encased as a complete unit.

Unscrew it.

Hmm, in my case I could not get this to move … the last element is secured on by a threaded ring … unscrew this to get into there.

Since I could not get this group removed, I could not get to the inner element to clean it … so now I have to go in from the front.


The name plate ring has two notches … so unscrew that using a spanning wrench.





DSC00692The inner ring pulls off.

Be aware of the ball bearing on the aperture ring below it … you don’t want to loose that.

DSC00691You can see the holes where the bearing will sit.

These are the click stops for the aperture ring.

Note the little lip … it sits in a slot. Remember that when you put it back on.




Pull off the aperture ring … watch the bearing (not pop out and bounce around on your table).

DSC00689Note the arm sticking out of one side … that arm couples with the aperture ring.




The front lens group is also encased as a complete unit … but, it is not so easy to get them out as one.

Use a rubber grippy tool to unscrew the group … do not grasp the outside as this will not move.


What might happen is that you unscrew the top part.

Then you have to unscrew the rest of it.


DSC00684Here is where you should remember to look back at the first image in this post.

Warning: the middle element is not secured so it will fall out with a spacer. Best to loosen then flip over so everything doesn’t just fall out all over the table.

Note how the elements are arranged.

Now you can get to the front of the rear group.

Check out the aperture and mechanisms.


The adventures of this guy who tries to restore and repair vintage photographic equipment … and wins (most of the time).

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