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How I Came to own my Grandfather’s Olympus OM10 – By Joel Anning

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Maybe around seven or eight months ago now, my Dad had started up on what appeared to be his next new hobby. I’d be lying if I said that at the time I paid much attention, but what I do remember is that it involved pinhole cameras, in fact, I think he actually had an article for his little project published on this very website.

Anyways because of his nature, this hobby quickly escalated, and a couple weekends later a weird box with two holes appeared on the living room shelf (which I now more accurately refer to as the Yashica Mat 124-G). This quickly became his pride and joy, and he seemed to find even more joy in explaining to the household it’s every feature, function and quirk.

Despite his best efforts, getting a 16 year old kid interested in a camera that, in my eyes, resembled a door stopper more than a classic piece of Japanese engineering, proved to be quite the struggle. That was until one day, where he had resumed his midday position on the sofa scrolling through eBay, he somehow found a Canon AE1 with a full FD lens set, flash, and documentation, all for a grand total of £60. Safe to say, he didn’t hesitate.

Now when I first saw his recent purchase appear next to the Yashica, my reaction was a little different. The AE1 actually looked like a camera, not an oblong box, not a door stopper, but an actual camera-shaped camera, and I guess that was enough for me to actually want to pick it up and use it.

Upon showing this slight bit of interest, my Dad jumped over to his film draw, pulled out a roll of HP5 and hastily ushered me out the front door. Now in the next 30 minutes, my Dad unloaded about a months worth of pent up camera knowledge on me, this was pretty daunting, but I must have enjoyed it to a certain degree, because I asked if I could take it to finish the roll while out with my friends the following afternoon, to of which he gladly accepted. Below are a couple of photos from that first roll. 

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The following months it became a common occurrence for me to ask to take the AE1 out. My camera knowledge was pretty much limited to: As long as the shutter speed is above 1/60th and the blinking red light doesn’t show, I can take a picture, pretty much rendering the SLR a heavy, manual focus point and shoot, but oh well, I was having fun.

As time went on I did begin to loosely understand shutter speed, and played around with it a little. Aperture was still a mystery to me, but looking back, with the AE1 being a shutter priority camera, my aimless twisting of the shutter speed dial did throw some varying amounts of depth of field into the pictures. 

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Now while my dad liked to see me enjoying shooting with it, he also wanted it back at some point too, so we eventually came to the agreement that I needed one for myself. Admittedly this was a little upsetting to me as I’d gotten quite fond of the AE1, but I knew that an A series was probably outside of the realm of possibility based on what was in my bank account.

Maybe a week later, my dad had worked his magic and thought of a solution to my next to non-existent camera funds issue, and started to tell me about some brief memories of his own Dad’s old camera (although he couldn’t remember the model exactly), throwing in that it was entirely possible it was still patiently sitting somewhere in the loft down in Plymouth where they lived.

Shortly after that, I was discussing it with my Grandad on a facetime call, followed by a bit of an adventure into the loft on his part, and after some very appreciative words had been passed on to him from me, it was ultimately followed by a camera bag sized box arriving at my doorstep a week later.

Opening it up was pretty damn exciting, it was getting on for four decades old, but was brand new to me. Sitting there was a shiny Olympus OM10, a full lens set, flash, original receipts, straps, filters and in all honesty, I couldn’t have been happier with it.

I’ll skip the majority of the details of the following month, but I used the hell out of it (examples below), and loved doing it, everything from flash photography, portraits, action sports, long exposures, I shot it all, continuing to do so to this day. At this point I’ve learnt a great deal and got the array of settings pretty figured out, even doing all the typical film enthusiast activities such as, developing and printing, disassembling cameras and of course not shutting up about them in social situations.

The main reason I’ve loved the OM10 as much as I have so far is not because of its technical capabilities… no it doesn’t have every feature I could ever need, no it doesn’t have the build construction of an armoured tank and no the lens set is not {NEAR MINT} EXC++++ (insert nice Zuiko lens name) from Japan. It’s because it fires at the right speeds and lets light in like it should, it belonged to my Grandad, and was used to take my own dad’s childhood holiday pictures literally decades ago.

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The fact that all these years later the OM10 still functions like it should and that I as the third generation of our family can use it to go out and document my own childhood, is pretty special. Thanks for reading. 

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Written by Joel Anning

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