I've bought several Olympus film cameras over the past 12 months. To date I've bought an OM20, an OM10 a Trip and now an OM2 (we'll come on to my most recent OM1 purchase at a later date!)... So why all the film stuff, and in particular why the OM2? Coming from the OM10, which in it's own right is a fine camera the OM2 is more solidly built. Back in the day, the OM2 was a semi professional 35mm film camera built to meet the needs of those looking for a fast reliable camera to build on the success of the OM1. The top plate of the camera shows everything you need to make photographs - simple, clear, concise with the shutter button, exposure control adjustment and film wind on all packaged together neatly along with the on/off switch which provides just the basics, on, manual, test and off. No frills and easy to follow.
The Olympus OM2 was a camera that featured aperture priority auto-exposure shooting control along with full manual control if you wanted it. Aperture priority effectively means you set the aperture you want to shoot at and the camera sets the shutter speed. Of course, the OM10 is an aperture priority camera only so in effect you turn it on, set your aperture and as long as it corresponds to a shutter speed that's fast enough for your needs, you're good to go.
Which really brings me on to the reason why I bought the OM2. In effect I can do all that the OM2 & OM10 does with any one of my Fuji digital cameras. OK, so the results from film are different and the experience still differs quite a bit in terms of needing to manually focus, which again is possible with digital, but I still felt the end experience was not "different" enough.
The OM2 offers a fully manual option meaning I set the shutter speed and aperture to suit the film ISO I have loaded in the camera at the time. Of course, once again this is still possible with digital, but in real terms I rarely use a digital camera that way - digital makes it simple to point and shoot, almost all of the time I use auto ISO which means the camera picks the ISO to shoot at, and adjusts it based on the shutter speed/aperture I choose.
Being in control of these actions makes photography different. Indeed if you've never shot film before, which I have done but never really in a fully manually way, it makes you think much harder about how you're taking the photograph. You have to balance the aperture and shutter speed against the ISO of the film you are using, and with just a simple +/- gauge in the viewfinder with a needle which moves up or down it's both beautiful and in real terms simple.
I come across a lot of discussions around the internet about manually focusing digital cameras, particularly with Fuji owners, which across the range are not as fast as modern DSLR's for focusing. Manual focusing is possible with digital cameras, and in Fuji, they make it relatively simple with the option of split image or highlight peaking. However, as good as this is, it still doesn't come close to manually focusing with an old film camera. There's no electronics involved, no "fly by wire" from camera body to lens which can feel as if you're a little disconnected at times and with no electronic gimmickry getting in the way means focusing is smoother, faster and personally I feel a little more simple.
The Olympus range of Zuiko lenses are little pearls, with the 50mm f/1.8 the most common and providing a very sharp option for everyday shooting. Personally I love the field of view 50mm gives, so I am more than happy with these little lenses.
So, Why The OM2?
Having not shot film for a very long time and to be out shooting for fun, I decided I wanted full control over the settings of the camera. This gives me the responsibility to get things right, along with hopefully improving my knowledge and understanding of how to get the exposure correct when I shoot in digital. Having the option to flick back into "auto" mode is a back stop I may choose to use once in a while to check I have the rights settings of to get creative with the exposure I want, but on the whole the idea is to shoot manual...
I have to say I'm rather smitten by the Olympus range. It started with the OM20 which I think is a fine looking camera, increase with the OM10, and now with the OM2 I've simply fallen for it completely. They exude a timeless characteristic which digital cameras can't match, their build quality and components have a real solid feel to them and properly looked after I see no reason why they can't last a lifetime... after all some of the OM2's out there are over 40 years old now!