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Going Old School: Considerations for Olympus Film SLR Cameras

Many people are returning to shooting with a single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera. Since Olympus made its first SLR film camera in 1972, some photographers have been choosing this option. Photographers can choose between manual and automatic options.

What is an SLR camera?

An SLR camera uses a mirror and prism system allowing the photographer to view exactly what the lens sees through the viewfinder. There are sometimes digital devices, which are known as a DSLR camera. Once the shutter button is pushed, the mirror flips out of the way and the lens allows light to hit the film capturing the image.

What are the different types of SLR cameras?

Olympus SLR film cameras offer three basic types, including:

  • Manual: This is a camera for those who like to control almost every option
  • Automatic: Some controllable settings exist, such as how open the aperture is; camera selects most options automatically
  • Manual and automatic: These cameras allow you to operate manually at times and automatically at others
What type of film do SLR film cameras take?

While some SLRs take a medium-format film, most take 35 mm. You can find many different 35 mm film speeds available. They are given an International Standards Organization (ISO) film speed. Consider choosing the lowest ISO number available that is fast enough to stop the action and a number that gives you the option of shooting with the smallest aperture. Options include:

  • ISO 25 to 50: fine-grain option that lends itself to well-lit conditions where slow speed is desirable
  • ISO 100 to 200: fine-grain option ideal for daytime outdoor photography regardless of sky conditions
  • ISO 400: suitable for sports photography inside and outside
  • ISO 1000 to 1600: large-grain, high-contrast option suitable for indoor photography where flash is prohibited
What lenses are available for SLR film cameras?

A variety of lenses may be available, including:

  • 8 mm to 24 mm: often called ultrawide-angle lenses; best for shooting panoramic landscapes and cityscapes
  • 24 mm to 35 mm: often called wide-angle lenses; ideal for capturing landscapes and interior locations
  • 35 mm to 85 mm: general purposes lenses useful for variety of purposes
  • 85 mm to 135 mm: often called short telephoto lenses; used to capture portraits and close-up photos
  • 135 mm to 300 mm: medium telephoto lenses; used to capture action sports and fast-moving objects up close
  • 300 mm and higher: long telephoto lenses; used to capture faraway sports action and astronomy
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