Light meter problems on my Olympus OM-2N

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by simonpetersen, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Hello.

    I've encountered a problem with the light meter on my Olympus OM-2N. I've had it for 2 years working without problems, other than some minor light leaks.

    To make it short. When in auto or manual mode, the light meter doesn't react neither when I change the ASA/ISO nor aperture. It reacts when I look around towards dark or bright areas as usual, so the needle is not stuck. In manual mode the light meter reacts when I turn the shutter speed ring. When shooting in auto mode, changing the ISO or aperture does result in different shutter speeds according to the stops I turn (not sure if exact but it gets longer or shorter).

    I've tried with another lens and changing batteries without luck. I do admit that I've brought the camera with me on rough trips, but never has it been exposed to an impact or gotten wet from rain. The problem occurred suddenly from one use to another when using it at home.

    I've tried looking up the problem on google and can't find any posts describing my problem. It is my first a only film camera, so I don't have much experience with problems. So am I bound to shoot photos on "blind" settings (unless I use a phone app) with this camera?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Your description is a little confusing, but it sounds as if the mechanical coupling of aperture and ISO to the manual meter aka viewfinder display has become misaligned. The camera may need professional service.

    The reason auto mode still seems to work properly when you shoot "blind" is the auto mode uses a completely separate meter eye and circuit that actually works independently of the viewfinder needle. Its an effective but peculiar cooperative system: in auto mode the viewfinder doesn't truly show what the auto meter is reading, it just switches the manual meter in the viewfinder to indicate approximate shutter speeds instead of centering the needle. Not only is the manual meter/speed readout separate, it uses a completely different type of meter cell (CdS vs the silicon blue cell for auto in the camera throat). CdS is subject to aging issues that silicon blue is immune to, so it isn't unusual to see OM2 cameras that work fine in auto but have issues with the viewfinder displaying the auto speed or manual exposure incorrectly.

    As long as auto mode is giving you correct exposures and you can live with 'flying blind" the camera should remain usable that way for quite some time. But if you like to use manual metering occasionally or feel uncomfortable not knowing what speed the camera will shoot at, you'll need to get it repaired or buy a replacement OM2N.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
    simonpetersen likes this.
  3. Thank you orsetto for your answer. Sorry if my description is confusing, I tried to keep it short and covering the most.

    Yes, I can understand that my camera has two light meters and the viewfinder is only for guidance. I usually only use auto mode, so the only problem I will encounter is in low light situations I guess. I'm just very sad that it suddenly happened, as I'm very happy for the camera.

    When you mention CdS is subject to aging, are you referring to that this could also be a reason for my problem, or just that it also is a common problem with the light meter in the viewfinder for OM2N?
  4. I don't think CdS aging is causing your specific problem, since you say the needle does seem to move freely in response to changing light (it just doesn't respond to changes in aperture or film speed). When the CdS meter located in the finder ages or dies, it either doesn't respond at all or gives way-off exposure readings. If yours was working fine until this sudden issue, the issue may be purely mechanical.

    I've owned an OM-1 for forty years, and once owned an OM-2S and OM-4Ti, but never the OM-2 with the needle viewfinder. So I could be totally wrong in my assumption that the OM-2 shares some meter mechanics with the OM-1. With that disclaimer, I seem to remember both OM-1 and OM-2 have a tiny fragile cord that transfers movement of the aperture/ASA settings to the viewfinder needle. This cord sometimes breaks after many years, after which moving the controls has no effect on the viewfinder meter.

    Again I'm not entirely sure of how the OM-2N is constructed, but I believe the auto meter at the bottom of the camera gets ASA info via electrical resistance as that control is moved, and it reads directly thru the stopped down actual aperture instantaneously, instead of the mechanical coupling used on top for the viewfinder. That is how it continues to expose properly despite the viewfinder system breaking down.
    simonpetersen likes this.

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