Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP SLR Camera

Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP SLR Camera

Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP SLR Camera

'Camera Review - A look at the Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP (Spot/Program) 35mm SLR camera, a semi-professional classic for the photo enthusiast'


Introduction and Overview

The Olympus OM System was introduced with the launch of an all-mechanical manual focus 35mm SLR camera, the M-1 (later renamed OM-1) in 1972. The camera was a very compact design with full-aperture TTL (Through The Lens) exposure system, and bayonet lens mount.

Olympus OM-2S, View, Right Front
The system expanded with the addition of the semi-automatic OM-2 and OM-2n, the introduction of the 'professional' OM-3 and OM-3Ti, and OM-4 and OM-4Ti. The system was supported by a wide range of Zuiko-branded lenses, as well as a generous selection of accessories.

On the consumer level, the lower cost system compatible 2-digit Olympus OMs was also released.

Launched in 1984 as a rework of the Olympus OM-2n, the OM-2S / OM-2 SP (Spot/Program outside the US) is somewhat of a dichotomy. It was actually closer to the OM-3 and OM-4 than to the OM-2n, sharing not the production line technology of the OM-3 and OM-4, but also the shutter mechanism of the OM-4, adapted without the 1/2000 second top speed while retaining the 1/60 second mechanical speed for use when batteries were depleted, and B.

With more to offer in both design and engineering, a fixed hot-shoe, dual metering system, three exposure modes, and a basic level of weather-sealing as new features, the OM-2S / OM-2 Spot Program looks like it would surely be a winner, does it?

Olympus OM-2s Program Review || The Underrated Brother

Build and Design

The Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 Spot Program is an aperture-priority AE (Automatic Exposure) 35mm film SLR camera fitted with an electronically controlled cloth focal plane shutter with a dual metering system, and Programmed AE, Aperture-Priority AE, and Manual/Spot Metering exposure modes.
Olympus OM-2S, View, Left Front
The camera has an electronically controlled shutter speed range of about 1 minute to 1/1000 second in its autoexposure modes, and from 1 to 1/1000 second for manual exposure. Exposure compensation is at +2EV in 1/3 steps, film ISO rating from 12 to 3200, self-timer delay is 12-seconds.

The OM-2S / OM-2 SP (Spot Program) is compatible with all of OM's system focusing screens, accessories (except for the flash shoe attachments), and the Autowinder 1 or 2, which powers the camera to 3.5 frames per second. The body is also fitted with a fixed hot-shoe and a plug for the TTL flash connector cable.

The rewind release button is located on the top plate between the ASA setting dial and the film advance lever, an aid to the better execution of multiple exposures. Film rewind is manual.


Basic Camera Features

The Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP (Spot/Program) was available only in elegant black, comes in a very compact body form, with easy to use functions and controls.
Olympus OM-2S, Front
The front of the camera is rather plain, on the left of the lens mount housing is the Self-Timer/Electric Beeper unit, and towards the top, on the front of the top plate, the Finder Light Window, with the Viewfinder Illumination Button beside it, on the vertical of the lens mount housing, The Grip-Lock mount is located on the side of the front panel.

On the right, toward the lower right corner of the lens mount housing, is the shutter ring release lock which will let you move the shutter speed ring over to the 1/60 second mechanical speed, and B. Close to the lever, on the vertical of the housing, is the Flash Synchro socket, and towards the top, on the front of the top plate, the TTL Auto Cord socket.

Standard (and unique to the OM System) on all OM bodies, except for the OM-10 and the Cosina built OM-2000, is the shutter speed ring which is located at the base of the lens mount housing.
Olympus OM-2S, Top
On the left of the pentaprism, now with a built-in hot-shoe, is the rewind crank which is integrated with a longish mode selector lever with selections for Battery Check, Programmed AE Mode [PROGRAM], Aperture-Priority Mode [AUTO], and Manual/Spot exposure setting.

To the right is the combined film ISO and Exposure Compensation selector dial, shutter release, film advance crank, film counter window, and, surprisingly, a new location for the rewind release lock.
Olympus OM-2S, Back
The film back is hinge type, comes with a film tab holder, and is interchangeable with Recordata Backs and 250 Film Back. The Battery Chamber (with cover) in on the bottom plate, together with the Motor Coupling Socket (with cover), Motor Guide Pin Hole, Tripod Socket, and Motor Coupling Terminals.
Olympus OM-2S, Bottom


Metering Modes

The dual metering mode is activated automatically:
  • Off-The-Film Direct Light Metering - The term Olympus used to explain the center-weighted, averaged light metering system that is measured off the film surface itself. The system, first in the world, adapts itself to changes in the lighting during the actual exposure.
  • Spot Metering - The spot metering mode measures the light intensity with which you set the shutter/aperture combination before you reframe the subject to grab the image. This system ensures that the values you set do not change even if you reframe or re-focus the image.


Exposure Modes

As mentioned, the OM-2S / OM-2 SP had three operational exposure modes:
  • Programmed Automatic Exposure on 'OTF' Direct Light Metering - Activated in 'Program' mode, camera sets aperture/shutter speed combination automatically, exposure reading taken off film plane.
  • Aperture Preferred Automatic Exposure on 'OTF' Direct Light Metering - Activated on 'Auto' mode, camera sets the shutter speed automatically based on user-defined lens aperture opening.
  • Manual Exposure on Spot Metering - Activated in Manual/Spot mode, exposure reading taken off the microprism circle size, locked by lens aperture/shutter speed set by the user.


Viewfinder Info

The viewfinder, with a huge image coverage of 97%, comes with a standard microprism/split image matt-type, interchangeable with a range of 14 options, sold separately. Exposure info is displayed on the LED display unit on the lower left corner of the screen.

Olympus OM-2S, Program Chart
In Programmed AE mode, the LCD will be a vertical shutter speed display with a vertical bar showing the selected shutter speed at which the Aperture/Shutter Speed algorithm was calculated for. A 'PGRM' indicator is shown on top of the bar.

In Aperture Preferred AE mode, the LCD will be a vertical shutter speed display with a vertical bar showing the recommended shutter speed for the selected aperture. Adjust the shutter speed of the camera to match the speed indicated by the LED display.

Olympus OM-2S, Spot Metering Area
(In AE modes, a graphics aperture icon, together with the 'OVER' indicator and a continuous beep will be activated if the image is overexposed.)

In Manual Exposure mode, exposure value will be taken off the size of the screen's microprism circle, which is about 2% of the display area. The LED display will be a 'match needle' type where you adjust the aperture or shutter speed, or both so that the top of the bar aligns with the midpoint mark between the two arrowheads.


Film Loading and Unloading

Another standard feature you will find (unless I am wrong) across all OM System cameras is the no-frills film box, with the film chamber, guide rails across the shutter curtain window, sprocket, and the take-up spool. Film loading is cumbersome at times, especially for the newbies, but you will get used to it soon enough.

Olympus OM-2S, FIlm box


Battery

The Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP is powered by a pair of SR44 (recommended) or LR44 (I run mine on these) button cells, should last you a lifetime. One of the 'nays' about the camera is the concern about battery drain when a hot-shoe mounted dedicated flash unit is used. The LED unit of the flash draws its power from the camera's batteries.

A later update to the electrical circuit design (units with Red flash ready LED, instead of the original Green) seems to have solved this problem.


Battery Check

  • Three stages - continuous LED light and sound (batteries good), intermittent LED light and beep (batteries weak, needs replacement), no activity (batteries dead, replace).
  • To de-activate the beep sound, lift the self-time tab/lever and turn it clockwise.

Self-Timer

  • To activate, lift up the self-timer tab/lever and turn it counterclockwise.

Mirror Lock-up

  • Not available physically but can be activated using the self-timer mode.

Using The Camera

So much for the tech and spec of the Olympus OM-2S / OM-2 SP. Using the camera, carrying it around even with the Autowinder attached is still manageable and does not strain the hands or shoulder more than it should. It’s a very pleasant camera to use, compact, very large viewfinder, lets you have total control of the exposure through its auto modes, or the spot meter.
Olympus OM-2S, Top front oblique

The LCD viewfinder display, with its illuminator light, will get you through any shooting situation that you might come across, including taking shots in the middle of the night. Sans the thought on the battery drain, mine is now still working strong after 6 months, Gone are the 'clunk-and-thump' shutter sound of the OM-1 and OM-2 (I have a collection that includes an OM-4), now replaced by a rather nice 'hasp-and-rasp' of the OM-4.

Not too common and not eagerly sought after by Olympus enthusiasts either (I wonder why), you can get the OM-2S / OM-2 SP at about half the price of the OM-2, or OM-1. I would consider a Programmed AE mode camera with manual spot-metering a far better choice than just a full manual or aperture-priority only. Small aperture Zuiko lenses are also an easy pick, some at ridiculously low prices.

There you go!



Resource Links:
The Olympus OM system and a camera to rediscover: the OM-2s
The OM-2SP | Arran Salerno

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