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OM4 T/Ti crash test


 Translated by Wiliam Wagenaar from Camera magazine 4/'89
 Postbus 2117, 3700 CC Zeist, The Netherlands

 Camera Magazine Pro test
 Olympus OM4Ti-Black

 Is the Olympus OM4Ti-black resistant to professional abuse?

 Our last CM-PRO-test with the Leica R6 has raised a good
 deal of dust.  In Germany they call it "The camera magazine
 crash test", which is, all things considered, a better name
 for our spectacular test.  Our last guinea pig, the Leica R6,
 received 88 points.  This time, we tested the new Olympus
 OM4Ti-black.  Our expectations were high for the "poor man's
 Nikon" as Olympus is called in the USA.

 The OM4Ti came straight off the shelves of the importer to
 our shutter speed testing bench.  Here we found
 a deviation of 15% to fast for the slow speeds (1/15 sec and 
 slower).  Not a huge deviation, but still a flaw since the meter 
 of the OM4Ti can be influenced in increments of 1/3 stop.
 We shot a roll of Ektachrome 64 slide film with is and it looked
 well exposed.  The auto exposure works well but as a brand
 new OM4Ti user you have to get used to the spot meter.  The
 measuring area of the spot meter is so small that it is easy
 to measure a to high value (with slides) which leaves the
 rest of the frame slightly underexposed.  Of course it is nice 
 to have a spot meter in the camera. In cooperation with the
 spot meter two other exposure settings come in to play:
 Highlight and Shadow.  It works like this: Spot meter your
 subject and afterwards press the Highlight button when you
 measure a very bright subject (e.g. a white wall) or on the
 shadow button when measuring a very dark subject (e.g.
 person on black couch).  The camera automatically compensates
 to over- or under-expose by two stops, assuming you really
 need those two stops!  This system is terribly beautiful 
 and in most cases it is satisfying as long as you spot meter 
 the correct areas and really need the two stops.  By the way, 
 the meter can make a combination of a large number of spot
 readings and automatically calculates the average for a
 correct exposure.

 Olympus is also famous for its off the frame metering.
 Following is a description of how it works.  The shutter-
 curtain contains a complex, computer-calculated field of
 white dots.  This field stands for an average exposure value
 for your subject.  The field is measured by the meter of the
 camera the moment the mirror flips up, just before the
 shutter opens.  By means of this, the camera meter can adjust
 to a change in lighting of your subject in the very last
 instant and thus expose correctly.  With this system it is
 also possible to measure and control flash light from the
 film plane.  Another advantage of the OM4Ti is that you can
 use the Olympus F280 "Full Synchro Flash" on all shutter 
 speeds from B up to 1/2000 second.  Of course this is
 ideal for fill-in flash in daytime when shooting against
 the light or flash of fast moving objects.  There also is
 the Super FP flash mode in which the flash exposes the
 subject longer (1/25 sec.) than would normally be the case.
 With this you can accentuate movement when using flash,
 which is impossible with conventional flashes due to
 their short flash duration.

 The Olympus OM4Ti can be set completely manual and can be
 corrected in 1/3 stop increments, with a warning in the 
 viewfinder.  The camera has the shutter-speed ring mounted 
 around the bayonet mount, which takes some getting used to 
 if you are used to other cameras. Also this shutter speed 
 ring cannot be set well when a motor-drive is attached. 
 Assuming you mostly use the excellent aperture priority 
 auto exposure instead of the manual setting, this is not a 
 big problem.  As for the rest, nothing but praise for the the 
 compactness of this advanced reflex, but sometimes we had to 
 fumble to adjust the camera. Of course the camera has an 
 AE-lock, with which an exposure value can be kept in memory 
 for a series of exposures, up to one hour.  The camera is 
 completely made of titanium, the indestructible pro material. 
 The shutter however is made of rubber-cloth, which has the 
 advantage of being easily replaceable when damaged.

 For those who don't know our testing methods, we will repeat
 what's on the program for the Camera Magazine Pro test:

 1.  The OM4Ti is stored in the freezer overnight at -20C
 for 8 hours.

 2.  The OM4Ti goes into the oven for one hour at a
 temperature of 75C (Only 50C allowed according to the

 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 goes into a steaming hot shower cabin for on

 5.  The OM4Ti goes into the shaking machine for a certain

 6.  The shutter is operated about 15.000 times while the
 aperture is set at f8.

 After each of the point stated above a complete shutter
 speed test was conducted.  Deviations up to 1/3 stop were
 tolerated by us.  After the test the OM4Ti was disassembled
 completely by the Olympus Technical Department and the
 internal condition established.  A quality judgement was
 given for this too.  In the following paragraphs we present
 you the results.  What do you think, will the OM4Ti pass this

 Under a thick layer of ice and with the 1.8/50mm Zuiko
 completely dimmed and frozen we take the guinea-pig out of
 the freezer.  The Motor drive only says "bwzzzstt".  With a
 different lens attached we check the shutter speeds and
 advance manually.  At once the motor drive comes to life
 again, but a bit slowly.  The shutter speeds are OK, only the
 fast times are a bit slow, but after a few exposures return
 to normal.  Yet there are situations when a pro may need his
 camera at -50C.  The biggest problem then is to keep the
 lenses without dim and to keep the film in one piece.  In our
 case we also found condensation in the lens, so we
 cannot make photographs.  After one hour the condensation is gone
 and we can shoot our first pictures.

 The oven temperature is set at 75.  The OM4Ti stays
 simmering in the oven for one hour with its back opened.
 The OM4Ti is filled to the top with electronics, circuit
 boards, and plastic seals.  Will these hold? The camera is 
 taken out of the oven with kitchen gloves and we try the 
 shutter speed tests.  The tester does not function because 
 of the high temperature. After cooling down for a few minutes 
 the tester functions again and we ascertain that heat has 
 no effect at all on the camera. All shutter speeds stay 
 within their tolerances.

 The sandblaster asks us if this is another expensive one and
 hangs it by its straps in the air outlet of the blasting
 room, where it stays for two hours.  At Olympus TD they say
 that the Dutch are sloppy with their cameras.  Many impact
 and water damages are reported, more than in other
 countries: "In Japan they are always surprised by the
 number of camera housings and top covers we need. The number
 seems to be a lot higher than in any other country." 
 We deliberately abused our 4Ti with dust to check if
 the camera is sealed well against dust and water.  It is,
 because after the sand, dust, and dirt test the OM4Ti still
 functions well.  There is only a little bit of dust in the
 helicoid of the lens, which is not noticeable after turning 
 the focusing ring a few times! The lens is clean inside, 
 which is striking after the visible condensation in the 
 freezing test. Also the viewfinder is completely
 clean, quite an achievement. After opening the back
 absolutely no dust seems to have penetrated. Only on the
 mirror and between the body and the lens there is a little
 bit of dust. This is a sign that there is still some room 
 between the bayonet and the lens, which is remarkable. 
 The shutter mechanism is mounted in the bottom plate of the 
 camera and there too, we find no dust or sand worth mentioning.

 The camera had a advance lever which did not operate
 smoothly.  First you have to overcome some sort of barrier
 before the lever operates smoothly. Later it appeared that 
 a blocking-cam, which keeps the shutter curtain shut after 
 releasing, operates stiffly.  After a little drop of oil at 
 the TD the problem seems to be resolved but after about fifty 
 advances it comes back slowly. Probably an isolated symptom, 
 because we did not find this with other 4Ti's.  That's what 
 the warranty is for!  We also have no problem with the moisture 
 test on this electronic camera.  Dripping wet with moisture, 
 which was also present under the shutter release button and 
 between the knob of the ocular correction, we place the OM4Ti 
 in front of the tester and here too: no problems.  Striking however
 is that the slow speeds are a little bit longer now, the
 combination of sand and moisture seems to slow down the
 shutter.  We drop the OM4Ti firmly after it is completely
 dried up, just as we did with the Leica set.  The damage done
 is of course dependant completely on how the camera falls,
 but we do it neatly, assuming a camera drops straight down,
 as if someone drops it out of their hands. The motor drive
 takes the biggest bashing and starts to advance at 4 frames
 per second.  That was not supposed to happen!  After a little
 fiddling with the control buttons the thing stops and
 afterwards works as it should.  The shaking machine does not
 bring any difficulties.

 Then the shutter test.  With fully charged battery pack you
 can make about 2760 film advances and exposures at 1/60 sec.
 (without film).  We did this 5 times, plus the vast amount of
 times the shutter was released for the shutter speed test,
 which totals to about 15,000 exposures.  Mind you: Including
 all moisture, sand, dirt and other mess the camera had been in
 contact with, in the mechanism. Before the shutter speed
 tester the fast times are still fine, but the slow times are
 still about 15% slow.

 At the Olympus TD the Ti was completely disassembled.  A fine
 haze of (non harmful) dust was found to be attached to the
 inner parts of the camera.  There was no trace however of
 moisture or bigger sand particles, which means that Olympus has
 made this camera very tightly sealed.

 The camera is built pretty, it is a sign of good symbiosis
 between electronics and pure mechanical technique.  The
 spot meter showed a slight error but the auto exposure system
 was accurate almost up to one hundredth, nice!  Also the
 electronic self timer does not yield. Top and bottom plate
 are made of tough titanium and no plastics are used at all
 for the assembly.  The advance lever which runs on balls is
 fitted nice and firmly and with the motor attached the
 OM4Ti-black is an instrument which will serve you as a lover
 for many years. The Olympus Zuiko lens assortment offers
 enough possibilities for the creative photographer, with
 which we have to say that the Zuiko's with wide apertures
 are a bit expensive in comparison to the rest. The creative
 possibilities this camera offers and the quality supplied by
 Olympus (just proven) make the OM4Ti one of the last
 (regretfully) big ones among the smallest of the mechanical

 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.

 Positive Points:
 Very efficient flash system which can be used at all
 shutter speeds, handles well, Very completely equipped, large
 choice of lenses and accessories, robust camera, fast motor
 drive with second shutter release button and lit LCD, neat
 viewfinder, very reliable automatic exposure, diopter
 correction in viewfinder, good price/quality balance.

 Negative Points:
 jerky manual film advance (only on this one?), shutter speed
 dial difficult to adjust when motor is attached, aperture
 not visible in viewfinder, bright lenses very expensive.

 Maximum points for each item : 10.
 A total of 70 points gives the qualification of  "CAMERA
 Item:   Points:
 1.  cold test   7
 2.  heat test   10
 3.  dust test   9
 4.  moist test  10
 5.  shock test  10
 6.  internals   8
 7.  price quality       9
 8.  ease of use 8
 9.  design      8
 10.  equipment  8
 Total :         87


 Wiliam Wagenaar, EDS KSG Account,     Vlissingen the Netherlands

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Olympus OM 4-Ti black « Camerajunky

  2. Pingback: Olympus OM 4-Ti black | Camerajunky

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