Olympus OM 4-Ti black

So far I have been writing mostly about classic cameras with full mechanical construction with only one exception the Cosina CSM with an electromechanical shutter. It was because my collection fundamentally consists of such mechanical beauties.

But time goes on and my camera count is also increasing in many unexpected ways. My last camera in the row is still using film and being my camera it is naturally having only manual focus, but it is an ultra-modern professional beast in every other aspect. Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce to You the Olympus OM 4-Ti!

Olympus OM 4-Ti
Olympus OM 4-Ti

Olympus OM 4-Ti (black) Datasheet

  • Type TTL auto-exposure 35 mm. Single Lens Reflex Camera.
  • Produced 1989-2002
  • Film type 24mm x 36mm ISO/ASA 6-3200.
  • Weight 540g (body only)
  • Dimensions 87 mm height, 139 mm width, 50 mm depth
  • Construction weather sealed titanium alloy body
  • Lens mount Olympus OM Mount
  • Shutter horizontal cloth focal plane shutter, electronically controlled
  • Shutter speeds 1s-1/2000s, B, 1/60s can be used mechanically without batteries
  • Sync speed 1/60s but with Olympus F280 Full Synchro flash  up to 1/2000s
  • Viewfinder dioptric correction; dioptric correction range from +1 to -3 diopters; viewfield: 97% of actual picture field; magnification: 0.84x at infinity with -0.5 diop. (50mm lens)
  • Exposure meter dual concentric segmented silicon photodiode, Center-weighted and multi-spot-meter (2% of view; 3.3˚ with 50 mm lens) up to 8 points
  • Batteries   Two 1.5V silver-oxide batteries SR44 (Eveready EPX-76) or alkaline manganese batteries LR44
  • Self-timer 12s delay electronic self-timer
  • Hot shoe with contact for T series flash; 5-pin connector for T series flash; PC synchro socket.
  • Motor drive optional motor drive 1 or 2 can be attached, up to 5 frames per second


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What is it really?

This camera is the latest model of the one digit (upper grade) line of Olympus OM cameras and in addition, mine is the last sub-version. While the OM 4 was introduced in 1984 my version shown up around 1990. Apart from some extra controls, the body design is pretty much the same as the original OM 1 (1972) which pioneered a new trend of really compact sized SLR bodies. Therefore this camera is one of the smallest reflex cameras ever made taking the 35mm film type.


While other manufacturers introduced autofocus in their cameras Olympus stuck to the traditional manual focus design. There is a debate on why, but eventually, to me, the important point is that the lack of AF allowed keeping this wonderful classic shape.  The lenses are also very small, there is no need to place a motor into the body, not into any lenses.


So why is this metering so legendary? Well, apart from the fact that it is reliably accurate it leaves the control in your hand. Other brands like Nikon developed metering systems where the camera compares the scene with a database of stored situations and tries to figure out the best exposure for you. It is convenient and most of the time satisfactory approach, but you have low control over it unless you switch to full manual or you guess what the camera thinks and you can compensate accordingly. It must be said that it is an issue only among challenging lighting conditions.

In contrast, the OM-4 allows you to select up to 8 points of measurements and then the camera calculates the exposure. In other words, you can select what is important for you and what are your priorities. For example, if you take to measurements on the same area and one on another than the first is more important to you than the other.

A back-light situation where both the subject and the background is measured for correct overall exposure. (OM 4-Ti instruction manual)

I know it sounds strange for first, but believe me, it is so much intuitive and joy to use after you tried once. Of course, if you don’t want to get bothered with such evilness,  you can still use the traditional center weighted automatics, which just works well in most common situations.

multispot metering
Olympus OM 4-Ti metering and controls

All in all, for someone like me, who works with a very low frame-rate, prefers to think and focus instead of the machine but sometimes likes to get some precise support, this camera is the ultimate choice for 35mm photography. It is worth to note that (as far as I know) some professional medium format cameras also used a similar metering system.

Finally, the OM4 features a highlight and a shadow mode. It is useful in some cases where black or white surfaces are dominating on the frame. Normally if you take a photo with an auto-exposure camera of a gray, black and white piece of paper, it is likely that you will get middle gray on all frames (even instead of the black and white). It is because the metering system tries to achieve an averaged exposure which is good in most cases, but causing troubles when there is no reference. For example, a landscape covered by snow, or documents on white papers are typical cases.

To overcome this, you can use manual exposure, exposure compensation or in this case the high-light and shadow functions. You select the brightest (supposed to be white) or in other cases, the darkest (supposed to be pitch black) area on the frame, push the respective button and you will get the correct exposure with correct white or black representation. In fact, these buttons are doing simply programmed over and underexposure correction.

Flash control

Another interesting aspect is that this camera is one of the first ones able to use flash with very fast sync speeds (up to 1/2000s) when appropriate flash is coupled (like the Olympus F280). The problem of low synchronization speed was common of this kind of cameras due to the construction of the shutter and the very short burst time of typical flashguns. The OM 4-Ti solved this issue by continuous pulse bursts of the flash during the whole exposure which allowed to expose the entire frame correctly, although for the price of limited range.


This camera is very well made, it is weather sealed and indeed feels solid in my hands. All buttons, switches, and knobs work really definitely and smoothly at the same time.

But how though it is exactly? I have found a really exhaustive description about a crash test done by the Camera magazine 4/’89 (Germany) translated by Wiliam Wagenaar.

The methodology was:

  1. The OM4Ti is stored in the freezer overnight at -20C  for 8 hours.
  2. The OM4Ti went into the oven for one hour at a  temperature of 75C (Only 50C allowed according to the  manual)
  3. The OM4Ti is hung in the grid of the air outlet of a sand blasting company for 2 hours, so that dust, dirt and  sand can intrude deep into the mechanics.
  4. The OM4Ti went into a steaming hot shower cabin for on  hour.
  5. The OM4Ti went into the shaking machine for a certain time.
  6. The shutter is operated about 15.000 times while the aperture is set at f8.

This camera survived the torture very well, only the cold caused some temporal problems with the shutter. Here are the summarized test results:

Shutter speed  error: + 15% for the long times from 1/15
 Meter error: none (< 0.1 EV)
 Spot meter: deviation of 0.5 EV
Defects during test:  none, except jerky manual film advance
 Battery use of camera and drive:  normal.

Maximum points for each item : 10.
A total of 70 points gives the qualification of  “CAMERA MAGAZINE PRO-CAMERA”
Item:   Points:

  • cold test   7
  • heat test   10
  • dust test   9
  • moist test  10
  • shock test  10
  • internals   8
  • price quality       9
  • ease of use 8
  • design      8
  • equipment  8

 Total :         87

In comparison, the Leica R6 received 88 points in the same test. If you want to read the full review, please follow this link.


So here is the answer to my question “What is this camera really?”. To me, this camera is a lightweight, compact tool with sophisticated metering and flash control but with the maximum control over exposure and focus possible in an admirable classic shaped yet durable body. It is unlikely that I will take advantage of the flash features, but I can clearly appreciate the excellent metering.

The lenses are very well made and with nice performance as well. Last but not least these cameras are affordable, they used to be called by many as “poor man’s Nikon” in the USA. Nowadays in the digital era, you can definitely find a good deal of an OM camera.

My Olympus OM 4-Ti

I always adored the OM cameras because of their small size, stylish design, good lenses, and reliable construction, but until now I have never even touched one. I came close in dimensions with my Cosina CSM which is really similar at first look, but clearly not in the same league at least with the professional OM cameras.

Olympus OM 4-Ti vs Cosina CSM
Olympus OM 4-Ti vs Cosina CSM

How did I get it?

I was not really wanted to get an OM since I had no lenses for the system, plus I was happy with the Cosina as my light travel companion. But one day I walked into a small optics shop which I didn’t know before but I was attracted by the old photo commercials on the front of the building. As it turned out they don’t sell cameras or any photographic types of equipment anymore (they focusing on eyeglasses), but I spot a few old cameras in the cabinet behind the desk.

This OM 4-Ti was among them without a lens, only the body cap was mounted. I asked it out for some inspection and I immediately knew, this camera has a place in my bag. There was no price though, so we had to call the owner of the shop who is around 80 years old and collects cameras as well. We had a nice chat but he couldn’t tell me a price neither. So we agreed to talk about the camera in a few days as he can look after a bit.

Of course, this made me struggling a lot in the proceeding few days as I was not sure that I can afford this camera at all especially because I had no lens. After a few days of hell, I went back to the shop and asked again if they decided the asking price of the camera and they had. The offer was so generous that I bought the camera right away along with some film. The man told me that he likes that I am collecting and using film cameras and I will probably have a good use of it, that is why he is selling the Olympus to me. Of course, I went back to show the camera as soon as I have got this great lens I have mounted on it right now.

Olympus OM4-Ti

Hunting for the lens and focusing screen

Because the camera is in an incredibly good condition and because it is the last evolution step of the professional OM cameras, I decided to get a lens which is matching both in capabilities and cosmetics to the body. I wanted something behind the standard 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko (which is a great lens by the way) especially because I have many f/1.8 fifties for other systems and I really preferred to have something different. On the other hand, I like standards when I have only one lens and naturally, I had a strong constraint on the money to spend.

In the end, I have gone for the Zuiko AUTO-S 50mm f/1.4 lens and I did some research which serial number to look for. It was not an easy search, but I have got my lens on e-bay in perfect shape in the original box with the serial number I was looking for (greater than 1,100,000) that marks the latest design and best coating. For more information about the different variants of this lens look around here.

After I received the lens I had to realize that my focusing screen is good for anything but normal use. The type I had in the camera was made for microscopy and other extreme macro purposes. So I had to look for a replacement focusing screen, but it was not an easy ride. I found many of these on e-bay, but on the price that I started to think if I really did a good deal with this camera. After a few weeks of desperate research, I have managed to find a screen in Hungary at a reasonable price.

Almost 2 months after I first saw the camera in the cabinet I have managed to get a working set which takes photos while I am capable of focusing with it. It cost me way more than I thought when I bought the body, but undoubtedly worth it. This is really an amazing camera to use and hold and I don’t think I would have considered getting one in any other ways.

The way it looks

Personal experience

Until now I shot only 3 rolls of film, therefore it is hard to claim that I master the camera. Nevertheless, the start is very promising as I feel very comfortable and natural to use and the initial results are encouraging as well.


The ergonomics are really good, although due to the classic shape it is not as convenient to hold as more modern cameras. The bright side is that there is an optional grip available, but honestly, I don’t feel it is necessary. The layout of the buttons and other controls are nice as well, maybe the “highlight” and “shadows” buttons are not the easiest to hit blind, but I don’t think to use them often. The most interesting part of the controls for me is the OM-style shutter speed ring on the lens mount, which is unusual but also brilliant at the same time. You can set both the aperture and shutter speed at almost the same place with the same hand. Of course, it is probably not for everyone, I personally like it.

As I have mentioned already, the camera is really small even with modern standards. It is bigger than mirrorless cameras but it is definitely smaller than any budget DSLR- If you consider that it is a “full-frame” camera than it is quite an achievement.

Olympus OM4-Ti


Focusing is really easy, smooth and accurate with my fast f/1.4 lens and so far I am very happy with the metering system as well. Most of the time the normal center-weighted metering mode was fine for me with aperture priority mode. Note that aperture priority is the only automatic mode available on this camera, but in fact, this is the mode I prefer on digital cameras the most also. I have tried the spot and multi-spot metering as well with success, but I need more time to gather greater experience with them.

Battery life

I basically I took out the batteries from the Cosina CSM and put them into the Olympus. These batteries were in use for more than a year from now and so far I had no problems. Considering how tiny and cheap these batteries are and how long they last I think this camera is very economical in this respect. I have heard that the regular OM 4 was eating batteries, it seems the Ti version has corrected this issue

Test shoots

I have a Zuiko AUTO-S 50mm f/1.4 lens which has a good reputation in terms of overall image and build quality although it has some barbell distortion. I can confirm all of these statements. The lens is sharp, contrasty, not too prone to flares, the bokeh it produces is also pleasant to my eyes. Indeed the distortion is there, but it is not disturbing unless you shoot brick walls or other well defined geometrical subjects. I may make some measurements and create a lens profile in order to correct this digitally, but as I said this is a minor problem you won’t even notice in the 90% of times. The coating works great and flares are not really threatening you, I think a lens hood is generally a good idea, so I will get one soon.

As for other lenses, I really wish to get some exotic ones most notably the Zuiko 80mm f/2 is my greatest wish for portraits.

Márk (Gyöngyössolymos, Hungary), Olympus OM 4-Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Fomapan 100, Kodak 76, Canoscan 9900F
Eszter (Budapest, Hungary), Olympus OM 4-Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak portra 160NC expired, Canoscan 9900F
Eszter (Budapest, Hungary), Olympus OM 4-Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Fomapan 100, Kodak 76, Canoscan 9900F
Temps de flors Girona 2012, Olympus OM 4-Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak portra 160NC expired, Canoscan 9900F
(Budapest, Hungary), Olympus OM 4-Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak portra 160NC expired, Canoscan 9900F

Some other OM 4-ti shoots of mine in this post.


This camera is for:

Everyone who loves 35mm film photography and needs a light, reliable and stylish companion. It is for everyone who likes to focus manually and prefers full control over metering yet likes to have a sophisticated system to aid the evaluation of exposure times. Last but not least this camera for those who do not mind to keep a pair of small knob batteries in their pockets.

This camera is NOT for:

I don’t recommend this camera for automation junkies, action or sports shooters or in contrast for more conservative people who prefer full mechanical constructions. In the case, if the electronic operation would be the problem, there are plenty of full mechanical choices in the OM series such as the OM 1 or the very rare mechanical counterpart of the OM 4 the OM 3.


Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8

Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8


The Pancolar 80mm f/1.8 is a late development of Carl Zeiss Jena which was at that time the East German part of the original company torn into pieces by the WW II. Therefore this lens was accessible in the eastern block mainly and even though now it can be found all around Europe, this is a very rare lens in other continents.

The lens has a high reputation as a sharp, fast portrait lens and it is quite expensive among other lenses of the same era. It has an M42 mount and was produced in both automatic and electronic forms. It was later remounted as the B-mount Carl Zeiss Jena Prakticar 1.8/80. (source Praktica-users.com)

Datasheet and optical formula

Pancolar lens schema
  • Construction:6 elements, 5 groups
  • Angular field: 30.4°
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.8m
  • Diaphragm action: fully automatic
  • Coating: Multi-coated
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • No. aperture blades: 6
  • Filter size: 58mm screw-in type
  • Push-on diameter: 60mm
  • Weight: 310g
  • Barrel length: 64mm

This lens is a typical example of the legendary classic double Gauss lens formula also known as Planar.

The Double Gauss was likely the most intensively studied lens formula of the twentieth century, producing dozens of major variants, scores of minor variants, hundreds of marketed lenses and tens of millions of unit sales. It had almost no flaws, except for a bit of oblique spherical aberration, which could lower peripheral contrast. Double Gauss/Planar tweaks were the standard wide aperture, normal and near normal prime lens for sixty years.

The double Gauss lens consists of two back-to-back Gauss lenses (a design with a positive meniscus lens on the object side and a negative meniscus lens on the image side) making two positive meniscus lenses on the outside with two negative meniscus lenses inside them. The symmetry of the system and the splitting of the optical power into many elements reduces the optical aberrations within the system. (source: Wikipedia)

My Pancolar

I have got mine from the girlfriend of my father with the original case. She never used it, it was basically on the shelf without a camera since ages.

Probably she didn’t know what was the value of this lens, so I didn’t know neither. As it turned out it is an expensive lens among the usually very cheap M42 mount lenses. The market price is very similar to a new Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, which is why I am often thinking about selling it. So far, I decided to keep it, because of the nice performance, character and because I can use it on many crazy cameras of mine.

The front cap was missing and the aperture blades were stuck, otherwise, as you can see in the photos below, the lens was in a really good shape. The glass was clean, no dust, no scratches, no fungus and it was obviously not used too much. I have substituted the missing front cap with a Canon cap of the standard 18-55mm kit lens. I tried to use other Ø 58mm caps, but this was the only one which was not tending to touch the front lens element.

The way it looks

Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8 box
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8  hard-case
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Carl Zeiss Pancolar Jena 80mm f/1.8


Personal experience

This is one of my favorite lenses. The images are always very sharp and have a good contrast with it. I can say that there are very little signs of any aberrations or distortions over the frame. I have not tested the lens scientifically yet so I cannot compare the performance in numbers with other lenses.  But real word experience is quite pleasant for me.

100% crop of a challenging image (high contrasts) at f/2.8, very little chromatic aberration can be seen

(post about this image),(full image)

At wide open, sharpness and contrast are a bit lower than stopped down by one-two stops, but still quite nice and I think this is very common with almost all fast prime lenses. Besides a slightly softer result can be beneficial for some portraits where little details of the skin can be smother and this way the model could look more perfect. The 80mm Pancolar is really not much softer wide open though. Colors are also rich and lovely and somehow different from my other lenses when using on the same digital body.

Dept of field & Bokeh

Only the right eye is sharp of this cat

I like this short telephoto lens because this focal distance allows me to take nice shoulder portraits while I am still close enough to the model to interact with.

Also, this lens has the ability to blur the background (like hell) very much because of the large maximum aperture. In fact, the depth of field can be so shallow that sometimes you get only a few centimeters of it and it has a risk that you miss the focus. A good example when only one eye of the model is in focus.

Speaking about bokeh (quality of out of focus elements), this lens produces a lot and the quality is superb, creamy. I know it is subjective to judge this property, so please have a look at the sample shots and decide yourself. The only caveat with it is the fact that the lens has only 6 aperture-blades. It could produce a not circular (multigonal) spots of highlights in the blurred background. It is a subjective thing again to like it or not, personally I prefer the perfect circles. This is not a problem when shooting wide open as the aperture is round at that case.

Build quality

Pancolar lens barrel extension

The Pancolar is a very well made lens which has a full metal + real glass construction.  It looks absolutely beautiful, feels solid and has a good weight to it. The aperture ring clicks at every half stops and operates very smoothly and precisely. The focus could be the same if I had got the right grease into it. -I will get it fixed soon. – The lens barbell extends a few milometers while focusing, but not seriously and the front element does not rotate -> there is no problem with polarizing filters to use.

There is a switch on the lens to set automatic or manual mode. When set to automatic the aperture stops down only when you press the shutter button and then it returns to full size when mounted on a compatible camera. In the case of manual mode, you must pre-set the aperture manually. This could be a nice feature too for videographers.


I have found a short summary on a nice website (Prime35.com) which is a perfect quote to close this post.

CZJ Pancolar MC 80/1.8

I’d say this is the best choice for versatile and sharp M42 80mm lens. It’s contrasty, it has the best wide-opened performance of all f/1.5-f/2 M42 portrait lenses. Center is close to Biotar, but borders are much sharper. Great colours (MC) + great bokeh. It also isn’t as risky as the early post-war lenses, because its coating is much harder, so cleaning marks are not an issue. For me it’s the best post-war Jena lens. (source: Prime35.com)


Sample Shots

Using a digital body (crop frame)

On my cropped frame Canon body this lens is equivalent to a 128mm lens on a 35mm body due to the 1.6x cropping factor.

Albert (Girona, Catalonia), Canon 450D, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
SavE (Girona, Catalonia), Canon 450D, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Gatto (Beget, Catalonia), Canon 450D, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8

Using a digital body (full frame)

Old Ladies, (Gyöngyössolymos 2014),Canon EOES 5D ,Ca
Old Ladies, (Gyöngyössolymos 2014),Canon EOES 5D ,Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8
Márk, (Gyöngyössolymos 2014),Canon EOS 5D ,Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8

Using film

Puppet (Girona, Catalonia), Cosina CSM, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8, Fuji superia 200, Canoscan 9900F
Antonio (Girona, Catalonia), Cosina CSM, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8, Fuji superia 200, Canoscan 9900F
L (Miskolc, Hungary), Cosina CSM, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8, Fuji superia 200, Canoscan 9900F
Weimar Lux CDS, Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/1.8, Fuji superia 200, Canoscan 9900F

For more samples see my Pancolar Flickr set.