The OM-1 was originally called the "M-1". This caused Leicas wears to burn. They had been naming their models that way for years. So....the name was changed to OM-1 (perhaps Olympus Maitani). These early bodies came in 2 versions, with motor drive port and without. Eventually, there was no reason to produce it without motor drive capability, so the non-md version was dropped. Bodies are all metal, come in black and chrome finish.
The original M-1 is collectible, and can fetch very high prices if in good condition. If you find a clean M-1 today, it will likely
need a lot of work, even if the camera has had light use. Every one I've seen has had bad prism damage due to rotting foam (black
or dark green blotches on the bottom of the finder). Every body (M-1 through 2N) gets foam removal and replacement as part of an overhaul.
Prism foam is removed but not replaced.
In the mid '70's, Olympus offered an "MD Conversion" repair for the older non-md OM-1 bodies.
This was labor/parts intensive. It involved drilling the main body casting in 2 places, replacing the slow speed governor, the shutter
speed control cams, md switch and the bottom cover. That was a time consuming retrofit (done in kinder, gentler times :-). Some non-md
1s (made later in production) needed minimal work for full motor capability as they had already been cast with the proper holes drilled
and the new governor and cams installed.
Despite their age, it is still possible to keep your OM-1 (and 1N) in perfect operating condition.
Most major parts are still available (though not from Olympus as they don't service most of the bodies in the OM system). It is very
common for the light proofing foam around the back cover to deteriorate and turn to goo. As this progresses, light leaks will result.
Foam replacement has become a part of every OM body overhaul that Camtech does. If not removed, decomposing foam will dissolve the
paint and silver layer on the main PENTAPRISM. Have your prism foam removed before it's too late!
OM-1 with rotting prism foam. Jees, what a mess!
The OM-1 & 1N are classic cameras. Why did they stop making such beauties? We think Olympus should start selling (at least) the OM-1N again. :-) Construction of the original 1 had been constantly improved during production. Every production improvement ended up in the 1N (and 2N). OM-1 production stopped (around serial number 1,625,000 production date approx. November 1978) and the 1N started. I recommend any used 1N over a plain OM-1 of any production date. Top quality material has been used throughout. A key meter gear that began as plastic was upgraded to brass. The screw that held the battery contact down, started as metal, went to nylon, then went BACK to metal. The 1N became a hybrid of the original 1 from 1973. It differed from the 1 in these ways: the 1N has an LED in the viewfinder which lights when a T flash (or other brand of dedicated unit) is ready to fire. A smooth contoured wind lever, a more contoured rewind release button on the front (which you will now find on some original 1s due to the unavailability of the original rewind release lever), modified back cover springs to firmly hold the film cartridge in place, and an internal contact to connect to Databack 3 or 4.
The OM-1N "Flag" (found on 2N's also), applied to version imported by USA arm of Olympus. Gray market version did not have this.
Dedicated to Preserving the OM System
Tech Pages - OM-1/1N