An overview of my much loved Olympus OM-2 sp (spot/programme), currently in for servicing, leaving me trying to fill my time - writing my first ever blog!
Olympus introduced the OM-2 sp (spot/programme) in 1984, a year after the fully manual OM-3 and the same year as the all new automatic OM-4. Why then was the OM-2 sp ever produced or conceived? I hope to explain…
The OM-2 sp is the final of the OM-2 series of cameras. The OM-2 was among the first ever fully automatic 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera (i.e. see what you shoot) and by far the best designed. In 1975 when all SLRs were big bulky ugly beasts, the OM2 was a shining light of ergonomic beauty. Fully automatic metering with aperture priority and ‘manual’ metering with control of both aperture and shutter speed, plus fancy-dan ‘through-the-lens’ flash metering. Clearly, Mr Olympus was ahead of his time.
Some say the OM series of cameras are too small, with a bizarre lay-out, the Sab of the camera world. Such people are large-handed buffoons who have never experienced the intuitive OM series.
Coupled to Zuiko lenses you have a 35mm camera that is yet to be bettered. Manual focus, as I am sure you fellow Lomographers would agree, is infitessimily superior to auto-focus. For control of depth of field, hyperfocal distance, and pin-point focus on the inner epicanthus of the subject’s eye in portraiture, the fine control with manual focus and split prism focus screen is far superior.
The OM-2 offers everything the timeless fully manual OM-1 offers, with the addition of all the benefits of automatic metering, in the same small but perfectly formed body.
So what does the ‘sp’ mean?? By offering spot-metering, portraiture exposure of the subjects face, exposing your archetypal black cat on a pile of coal (who has ever taken this picture?), or even a polar bear on snow, becomes a veritable breeze. Programme – a function I rarely use – is perhaps good if you are in a rush for the days when you need to snap without even a thought towards metering. Also, the ‘sp’ added a fully manual 1/60th of a second shutter speed to allow continued photography on battery death. A note on battery death – this is much rarer than some critics believe. I personally have to change the two button batteries every six months or so and shoot the camera very regularly – several sessions a week. Plus, they are pennies each on Amazon.
Why then buy the OM-2 sp over the OM-4? Because it is a bargain, £50-100 cheaper! The OM4 is said to have some issues with its chip – making the OM4 Ti the main alternative option in reality. This is also a lovely camera – my dad uses it. Practically the same camera – single spot on the OM2 sp versus multi-spot on the OM4 Ti, programme on the sp but not on the OM4 Ti, up to 1/1000th second shutter speed on the OM2-sp versus 1/2000th on the OM4 Ti – otherwise nigh on identical.
Finally, judge the camera by the photographs it produces. Let me know if I have done it justice.