Olympus OM-2n

Film Camera Review: Olympus OM-2n

Film Camera Review:

Olympus OM-2n 35mm MF SLR Film Camera

'A classic and a favorite manual focus autoexposure Olympus SLR film camera among film camera enthusiast'

Introduction and Overview

One of the 'iconic' classics of film photography, popular with both enthusiasts and vintage collectors, is the Olympus OM-2 series cameras. When launched in 1975, the OM-2 was a much-welcomed alternative to the OM-1's manual exposure only capability as it is not only capable of shooting in Aperture-Priority AE but also in a switchable full manual mode.

Olympus OM-2n, Right side front

The OM-2 also laid claim as the first (and still the only one) system camera with a super accurate center-weighted TTL (Through-the-Lens) Direct (Off-the-Film) Light Measuring System.

Upgrades and revisions saw the OM-2 bein updated to the OM-2 MD, which came with motor-drive adaptability, and the OM-2n in 1979 with advanced TTL flash capabilities, made possible a new circuitry and additional contacts for the Shoe 4. Other improvements include a flash ready light in the viewfinder, a contact point for the Recordata Back, and a re-contoured film advance lever. Shoe 4 is, however, not backward compatible.

Introduction to the Olympus OM-2N (OM-2n), Video 1 of 2

Olympus revealed the OM-2 to the world as a prototype at Photokina in 1974. The OM-2 arrived, over its life, in three key varieties -- the OM-2, the meter-improved OM-2n, and the OM-2s. Of the three, the OM-2n represented the best combination of features, functionality, and reliability.
Built on the same technical platform as the OM-1's, the OM-2's does place itself not only as a better option for the photo enthusiasts but also as a painless upgrade as it is compatible with all of the OM system's options and accessories that were already available. Still valid today, fun, and enjoyable to use, the camera is as good as it was meant to be.

Design and Built

The Olympus OM-2n is a 35mm Aperture-Priority AE SLR camera with an electronically controlled cloth focal plane with a shutter speed range from 120-1/1000 second under TTL (Off-the-Film) Direct Light Measuring System, and 1-1/1000 second, and B, under TTL (Off-the-Film) Direct Light Measuring ring-mounted manual control.

Olympus OM-2n, in chrome and black

Exposure compensation is at +2EV in 1/3 steps, the film ISO speed is 12-1600, 4-12 second delay self-timer, the standard screen is an interchangeable Microprism/Matte type, with 14 screen type options. Camera back is removable hinge type, with film tab holder, interchangeable with Recordata Backs, and 250 Film Back.

The Heart of the Camera

The true heart of the camera is undoubtfully the TTL (Through The Lens) Direct Light measuring system, which measures the light entering the lens directly at the film plane by light sensors at the precise moment the film is being exposed.

This OTF (Off the Film) metering was the first implementation of its kind ever.

Basic Camera Features

The Olympus Om-2n is available in both elegant chrome and charming black.

Olympus OM-2n, Front

The front of the camera is simplicity itself, occupied at slightly off-center to the right by the proportionally large lens mount housing, with the Shutter Speed ring at its base. On the left, bordering the top and body plate is the Rewind Release Lever, and the Self-Timer located on the lower half of the panel. On the right, a plain face, with the FP and X Flash Sync Selecter located on the vertical of the housing.

Olympus OM-2n, Top

The top of the camera is where all the controls are. Leftmost is the singularly alone Film Rewind crank. To its right is the Manual / Off / Auto selector switch with a push-up option for the three-stage battery check (Full Voltage, Depleted, Exhausted).

The back of the pentaprism houses the socket and connector points for the hot shoe. On the right is the combined ISO and Exposure Compensation dial, the Shutter Release button, Film Forward crank, and the auto-reset Film Counter window.

Olympus OM-2n, Back

Again, an all plain affair for the back of the camera, except for the viewfinder window and battery-check LED light.

Olympus OM-2n, Bottom

Located on the bottom plate of the OM-2n are the Battery Chamber cover, Motor Coupling Socket (with cover), Motor Guide Pin Hole, Tripod Socket, and Motor Coupling Terminals.

Olympus OM-2n, Film box

Film loading and unloading is a no-frills Olympus easy-load system. The film box, with the film chamber, guide rails across the shutter curtain window, sprocket, and the take-up spool, is something a newbie may need getting used to.

Viewfinder Readout

Olympus OM-2n Viewfinder readout
Visual exposure readout on the large 97% screen coverage viewfinder is a unique layering of pop-outs displayed alternatively towards the lower-left corner of the display area - a three-zone vertical shutter speed bar for AE shutter speed indicator, and a match needle display for manual exposures.

Nothing is displayed when the Auto Selector Switch is in the Off position. The displays are detailed in the next section.

Exposure Modes

Olympus OM-2n, Metering modes

Aperture-Priority AE [AUTO] - Recommended as the most convenient and easy-to-use shooting mode on the Olympus ON-2n. Set the Mode Selector Lever to Auto, preset the lens aperture you want to take the picture in and the camera will calculate the shutter speed automatically. Variations of the lighting condition will be adjusted automatically by the Off-the-Film Direct Light Measurement System.

Olympus OM-2n, Top plate closeup
Switch in Off Position [OFF] - When the shutter is released with the Mode Selector Lever set to Off, the AE control of the OM-2n will be activated for proper exposure within the limitation that the shutter speed is 1/30 second at its slowest.

Manual Exposure Mode [MANUAL] - In Manual Exposure mode you are in control of both the lens aperture and shutter speed. You can choose to:
  • Pre-set the aperture opening for Aperture Prefered Manual Exposure Control, or
  • Pre-set the shutter speed for Shutter Priority Manual Exposure Control
Exposure value will be correct once you zero-in the exposure pointer needle to the mid-point of the arrowed display pop-out.

Mirror Lock-Up

The only 'nay' that I can say of the OM-2n, which does not have a mirror lock-up function.


The Olympus OM-2n requires a pair of SR44 (recommended) or LR44 (I use these) cell buttons to power the camera's AE system. While the SR44s are more stable with a steady voltage output, I do change the pair of LR44 more often than most.

Battery Check 

The battery check is activated by the Auto Selector Switch located on the top plate of the camera - a three-stage LED light display - Continuous (Full Voltage), Intermittent (Depleted, needs replacement), None (Exhausted, replace).

Camera Body Weight

The bodyweight of the OM-2n is 520 grams without batteries.

The Heart of the System

As a system camera body, the OM-2n is also central to a vast array of interchangeable system components that can be shared freely OM-1 system bodies, as well as other forthcoming bodies, of course.

Olympus OM Photo Groups

These accessories are divided into various photo groups and range from the Zuiko Interchangeable Lens Group, the Finder Group, the Flash Photo Group, the Motor Drive Group, the MacroPhotography Group, the PhotoTechnical Group, the PhotoMicroPhotography Group, and the Case Group.

Using the Camera

I must admit that I am a bit of an Olympus freak, having owned and used the OM-1 MD, OM-2n, OM-2S, and OM-4, which are now part of my cherished collection. On the digital side, I use an E-520 and E-620 for product shots and a Pen E-P5 as a regular. Back to the analog SLR side, the OM-2n was my favorite, superseded now by the Spot Meter and Programmed AE OM-2S.

Being compact and complete was the dictum I used when I started out with the OM-1 MD. The OM-2n, which measures 136 x 83 x 50mm, and weighs 520 grams, is nowhere bigger or heavier. With a Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 lens mounted, the OM-2n was only 31mm deeper and 140 grams heavier. The camera's excellent built quality adds to its solid feel and robust handling aptitude, which is a joy to use and behold.

Olympus OM-2n,  Front isoview

What I remembered most is the very subtle and soothing 'clunk-and-thump' of the mirror slap and shutter actuation, which is reassuringly different from any other camera that I have used and tested. The ability of the TTL (Off-the-Film) Direct Light Measuring System is something you have to see and appreciate, on a camera body that has all the knobs, buttons, and levers located within the reach of your fingers just right where they should be.

Focusing is easy, thanks to the big, and very bright viewfinder. The interchangeable screen system makes it worth the while for you to go 'beyond the norm', be it in astrophotography, architectural or macro photography. Metering is, of course, almost perfect, even shooting from the hip, or street style, even with the mode selector turned to 'OFF' will still give you near-perfect exposures.

Olympus Zuiko lenses, known for their stellar image quality, are just as equal in the equation. Consummately small and compact, these lenses have their aperture ring up front, swapped with the focus ring if you were to compare it to the like of others (Nikon, Pentax, Minolta). Each lens comes with a depth-of-field preview button ...

Enough said!

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