Travelling light in Dusseldorf – 4: Olympus OM & Vivitar Ultra Wide. Birthdays

I’m in love, again. Previous posts beginning ‘Travelling light …’ have been about using pocketable compacts, and the Vivitar is, of course, just that. But the pictures in this post are mainly from an Olympus OM20, with either a 50mm f/1.8 or 28mm f/2.8  Olympus Zuiko lens. As I have said previously, I had fond memories of the OMs but having them again (see previous post) has brought home to me just what great cameras they are. They are the only 35mm film SLRs which I would consider titling ‘travelling light’, and I’ve had or used all the other mainline makes. It’s not really a matter of weight, but of superb handleability in a compact package. For me it’s the only SLR which can compete with a rangefinder.

"I told you we can't get everything in this car!"

“I told you we can’t get everything in this car!”

Usually for something like my grandchilden’s birthdays – 1 and 4 May – I would take a digital. This month, after about a year ‘getting back into film’ but, more importantly, a couple of weeks handling the Olympus, I was confident enough to take just film – in an OM20 and the pocketable Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim (used for only a couple of outside ‘party’ shots).

Of course I wanted to use colour for the birthdays and the only films to hand were Fuji Superior 200, so I was struggling a bit with inside shots, often having to shoot at 1/8 sec or even 1/4 with the lens wide open. So there’s quite a bit of blur, despite attempting to catch the moment of stillness in the action – but I decided that this didn’t hamper capturing the essence of children’s parties. And sometimes I just opened up two stops to get a higher speed and put up with the under-exposure.

What really pleased me was that of the 62 party shots I took on the Olympus, 49 were usable. I don’t think I’d have achieved that with any other camera, including the digital. No small contributor to it was the superb Olympus viewfinder – bright and easy to see the whole frame with spectacles on, so no need for the real inconvenience of dioptre correction. Without the Olympus viewfinder I’d have had much less success focussing in dim light among the action.

Now that’s a really good place for a party! Outside Oki-Doki inside playground, Willich. On the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim

I decided to take the OM20 rather than an OM10 as it has the manual mode built in, though all the shots here were on auto. And until I can find out what the problem with ‘spot’ is on the OM4, I wouldn’t trust it not to give up completely. Oh for the mechanical shutter of an OM1 – I’m looking for one!

After the parties I did load Tri-X into the OM20 for a subsequent trip to a lovely old part of Dusseldorf. I’ll see how that came out when I’ve time to develop it – perhaps a post in about a week’s time.

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