Back in 2014 I undertook a film project. Using my father’s old Olympus OM-10 I spent two months shooting nothing but film. It was a liberating experience (follow it all here) but I had to call time on it prematurely due to the discovery of light leaks.
2015 rushed by in a blur so now, a mere – ahem – 16 months later I am revisiting 35mm film.
With admittedly limited knowledge and aided by YouTube tutorials, I have spent the past couple of weeks performing a service on the hardy OM-10. Nothing too drastic – just a little TLC.
The priority was to fix the light leaks. This meant replacing the light seals. It’s a grubby but essential job. Thankfully, however, it is one that can be performed with minimal equipment and skill.
1. Remove the rotten foam
I wasn’t half-hearted about this: I replaced all the seals. It’s not a job you want to be doing often so I gave the camera the full treatment.
Scrape as much off you can with a craft knife and clean off the residue with a cotton bud and some nail polish remover.
3. Fit the new seals
Measuring and cutting strips for the OM-10 was fiddly as there are grooves less than 2mm wide that need filling. Save yourself a lot of hassle and buy self-adhesive foam.
The film door is now extremely tight and no longer springs open when released. But the main thing is that it shuts fully and it should loosen over time.
Other surgery I performed was cleaning the focusing screen. This is a far more fiddly task and requires the care of a skilled watchmaker. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it unless picture quality is being affected. In my opinion the end result wasn't worth the time and risk involved (these focusing screens scratch very easily).
I finished things off with a thorough clean of the lenses, the mirror, and I even had a stab at cleaning up some of the slightly tarnished areas of metal on the camera body, especially around the hot-shoe.
I’m pretty satisfied with the end result. And working on the camera like this made me really appreciate how well made the OM-10 is. It was marketed as a consumer camera yet it is built solidly. I daresay it could take twice as many knocks and falls as a modern DSLR.
My film of choice? A roll of Fuji Neopan 400 – a classic black and white I have yet to try.
It certainly feels good to be revisiting film. And the best thing about it this time around is that not only are my film photography skills being put to the test but my camera repair abilities too…