About a month and a half ago I dove in head-first into the world of film photography with a rocket strapped to my back. Within weeks I had acquired both a Mamiya C330 and an RB67 Pro SD to satisfy the medium format itch. A week after my wallet left me to be treated better elsewhere, I got an email from family saying they found a small collection of camera gear in my late Father’s possessions.
In his small kit, my Father had a practically unused Olympus OM-PC, an Olympus Zuiko 50mm f,1.8, a mess of Vivitar flashes, and some very dated Cokin filters. I picked up batteries to operate the camera, and a few rolls of ILFORD HP5 PLUS to run through it. I decided to push the film to EI 800 now that I had the power of a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second vs 1/500th with my Mamiya brick.
Overall, it is a very light body being mostly plastic with a rubberized grip. It’s small and unassuming, which is fantastic since I still haven’t quite figured out how to talk to strangers about why I’m taking photos of office towers downtown yet. The OM-PC does have some fairly interesting metering technology in it that I don’t fully understand enough to review, but having it set to aperture priority made the entire process as easy as could be.
I wasn’t super impressed with the contrast of HP5 shot at box speed, so I hoped that pushing it 1 stop wouldn’t excite the grain too much, but improve the contrast to where I’d like it for dramatic-looking photos.
Oh was I ever on the money with that guess.
I burnt through the rest of the roll after I felt like I got the shots I wanted and developed it at home in Kodak D76 at a 1:1 dilution as per box instructions.
They’re crisp, with loads of grain from what I’m used to, but it gives the images these buttery smooth transitions between tones on the reflective glass windows and sheet metal. The metering was accurate, and I feel confident I can trust the camera to make the right choice, or at least give me an accurate idea of where to start adjusting exposure settings from.
I’m unsure of how well these would print in traditional darkroom methods, but scanning with my V600 resulted in clean images with very little need to tweak levels from what the software decided was correct.
For being (as per forums) an unremarkable Olympus camera, I’m beyond tickled with how light and compact this kit is, and with how sharp the glass is! For an everyday black and white film, I think I’ve got a few scenarios to test with HP5 yet, but it’s well on it’s way to winning me over.
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This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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