The fogotten Olympus.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Lately I have been using many of my Olympus cameras, the various Pen series and the OM1 and OM2 and for this post, the overlooked FTL.
    The FTL must have the shortest model run of all time, just one year...1971-1972,and it's existence was soon overshadowed by the brilliant OM cameras.
    This was the first full frame 35mm SLR from Olympus, whose main claim to fame were it's various R/F cameras and of course, their main game...the half frame cameras with the Pen series at the top.
    The FTL was a fairly unremarkable SLR, but with full aperture TTL metering and a locking M42 thread mount similar the the Mamiya SLR's. Of course, normal M42 lenses would work on it.
    The lens range was very limited, a 50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 35mm 2.8, 28mm 2.8,135mm 3.5 and a 200mm F4. Although the cameras seem reasonably common, the extra lenses are not. Thanks to Michael Smith from this forum who supplied me with the 35, 135, and 200mm lenses. Just need that 28mm now!
    The FTL is really nice to use and makes a funny tinny clink when fired, but the focusing screen with a microprism spot, is one of the best that I have used.
    I will be doing a future post on the Pen F and OM1 soon.
  2. Some pics with the FTL.
  3. Last one, for JDM!
  4. Thanks for viewing. The lenses are all really good as you would expect, with the 50mm being a really sharp little tacker. Film was Across, except the Canberra shots which were Tri-X, all in Pyrocat HD.
    Sorry to post two so soon, but I just don't find the time too easily at the moment.
  5. I love this camera already - loved it as soon as I saw the photo. It has that same kind of aesthetic that the Contaxes sort of have. I have a few M42 lenses, I might have to buy this camera to use them! I can see two listings on eBay, one is from Italy, and from what I can make out there is a minor flaw. The other is from South Africa, and it seems in okay condition.
  6. Go for it Karim. I have three bodies, one has a problem with the mirror sticking up every now and then. One other has a advance lever that doesn't spring back too well...fairly common I believe. Thing is, the meters work well on them all. The styling is typical clean looking, that's Maitani for you....truly great designer.
  7. Nice pics Tony - and fascinating camera. I've never even heard of an FTL, and, to be honest, I never considered what Olympus might have been doing full-frame-wise before the OMs, even though I was a committed OM user for ~20 years. The FTL appears to share at least some design elements with the later OMs - the vinyl trim separating the leatherette from the chrome, and the switch around the rewind knob. Do you know if the lenses are the same design as their later OM-mount counterparts?
  8. Thanks David. As far as I know the OM series and their lenses were a complete re design, although I would imagine that many of the lens formulas remained the same or similar. Maitani just managed to shrink everything!
  9. It is a joy to use a film cameras. I have several OM-2 all of them with motor winder, it is a gem, and a couple of lenses. Occasionally, load them with film and out there to shoot. The funny thing, I shoot most of my life with Nikons, and get those 3 Olympus OM-2 after my friend past a way, he used Olympus systems. It is a brilliantly build, small, and a very good little camera, I wish, todays cameras as nice and small as those Swiss Watch quality build cameras where was.
    I like the images here.
    Thank you for the post Tony.
  10. Tony,
    These photos astound me in contrast and sharpness. I should have never sold you those lenses. I should have kept them to myself!
    I am happy you put them through their paces. You had been harping about testing in the forum for sometime. I waited and waited, but gave up waiting!
    Again great post.
  11. New crispy!
  12. Excellent results. This is a rare beast of an SLR. A semi proprietary M42 mount eh? I am ordering the
    Pyromania you boys down under use... I want to see what result I can achieve. Godd luck finding the
  13. That is a really nice looking camera and, as you said, tack-sharp shots. Thanks for sharing!
  14. Wow Tony, I always look foward to your post's. I have been an Olympus user since 1971 starting with the Pen series and moving to OM's after that.
    The FTL is indeed a strange bird. By the time it came out Maitani was already deep into the design of the Olympus X camera project, what was to become the OM-1 system. There had always been some spectulation it was 'outsourced' but it turned out that it was made 'in house' by Olympus. Perhaps they thought they needed to keep their hand in the game until the OM was ready.
    Somehow I've missed owning any of the FTL's. At that time I was not too impressed with Olympus' newest offering. My very first 35mm SLR had been a Miranda D with interchangeable screens and now any future SLR I owned just had to have that feature. This because I had fallen in love with plain matte screens and could not get along with split wedge or micro prism screens. That is why I perfered the early Pen F over the FT, It had a matte screen whereas the FT had a micro prism center spot. When the OM-1 came out and I bought one my very first accessory purchase was the 1-4 matte screen, although now I prefer the 1-10 matte with grid lines.
    I wait with great anticpation for future post's about Olympus cameras, indeed any camera you write up is a treat.
  15. I think by the time the FTL hit the market, photographers were wanting open aperture metering as well as some kind of bayonet mount. The FTL brilliantly filled the time interval needed for the development and marketing of the OM series SLR's. Who knows how far Olympus would have gone with the FTL if the OM system had not been developed. The writing was on the wall for the M42 mount cameras with Pentax developing the K mount which would be adopted by several camera makers. Still, the M42 had a brief reprieve in the mid 70's when several models (I think Chinon) offered fast silicon metering that allowed stop down metering to be almost as fast as open aperture. Thanks for an informative post.
  16. I recall reading an interview (via Internet) with Maitani stating that the FTL was 'outsourced'. Possibly that meant the design was provided by another company but the cameras were built by Olympus? Regardless, the FTL of 1971-72 is a rather interesting M42 mount camera with a locking lens feature similar in concept to Fujica's M42 SLRs. Now it seems to be an uncommon camera on the used market and often rather pricey as well.
  17. I have a couple of these with 50mm 1.4s. Over the years I managed to find the 28, the 135 and the 200mm. Wonderful cameras and very clean design. The M42 mount is a little quirky due to the locking pin which snaps in place, however they work fine for this system, can't really use them for other M42 cameras.
    Nice series of images, Tony, the shadow play in the museum and the perspective in the bridges are my favorites. Thank you for posting.
  18. Excellent as always Tony. I really like the war memorial and twin bridges shots. Like David I'm curious as to how similar these lenses are to their OM counterparts. I have a 50/1.8 and 28/2.8 in OM mount. guess I should get around to finishing the roll in the OM-1 and find out for myself how good they are.
  19. Tony thanks for posting, and please don't apologise for doing two posts in a short space of time. If only I had your energy and enthusiasm!
    Whenever I see your images I think to myself "Isn't he lucky to live in such a photogenic place?". Then I realise that wherever you go, you come back with a series of stunning photographs.
  20. Thanks all for the very positive feedback, much appreciated. Sometimes we need a good excuse to get out and shoot with our classics, and this forum is that.
  21. Tony,
    Another fine post. The FTL is an often overlooked camera but your results cannot be denied.
    I found a nice Modern Photography test and a couple of interesting ads.
  22. Tony

    Great photos. Where do you get the pyrocat developer from? I'm also in Oz.
    Thanks Apiarist1 (Arthur)
  23. Forgotten? That's the missing link!
    Never heard of this one either. Somehow between you and Rick D , you continually find these gems.
    Nice specimen and lovely images as always.
  24. Puff, pant...We're having trouble keeping up with you, Tony! Great post, lovely images, as usual, and a camera I've never come across, though I've read up on it on several occasions. Typically clean Olympus design, with the fine Zuiko glass. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, and demonstrating it so well.
  25. Thanks again, seems that Olympus cameras have a special spot here on PDN. Arthur, I buy my Pyrocat in ready mixed bottles from Bostick and Sullivan in the US. Great service but horrendous postage costs unfortunately.
    Interesting that Maitani didn't design the FTL, but when you think about it he was probably up to his eyeballs in the OM design.
    Try to keep up Rick :) It's either all or nothing with me!
  26. Arthur, I'm using Formulary PMK Pyro developer, available from Freestyle Photographic Supplies in California; it does much the same job as the Pyrocat, and being in powder form is much cheaper to import down here in NZ. Excellent crowd to deal with, and a huge catalogue of products. Google will find them...
  27. Nice job Tony! I've pondered acquiring an FTL now and then...
    The FTL was not designed by anyone at Olympus. Olympus purchased the design from another company (I don't know which) and produced it themselves. It was only intended to be a "stopgap" until the OM system was ready.
    Maitani: "Actually, the FTL is not a design of Olympus. It is bought from another company to fill the production vacuum between the Pen and OM cameras. The OM camera was released in 1972 after five years of design, research and improvement. All the lenses are of the latest design. They are completely different from the FTL lenses and also the Pen lenses.”

    More info available here:
  28. Thanks education continues. I wonder why they thought that a stop gap was required for just twelve months?
    Rick, and Arthur, PMK is a bit different to Pyrocat in that the PMK uses Pyrogallol and Pyrocat uses Pyrocatchetin.
    Both are staining developers but PMK has a more pronounced yellow/green stain and I love the way that it holds high values. Pyrocat has a less pronounced stain and actually adds more contrast when used with MG papers. Both are very economical and give fine grain...masked by the stain.
    Agree that Freestyle are great to deal with.
  29. From what I've been reading. I don't think these were widely sold, or sold at all, in North America? That would explain why I never heard of it? As a 17 year old in 1971 the year of it's release. I subscribed to both "POPULAR" and "MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY" magazines. I would study the annual buyers guide editions like the bibles they were to me.
    I do remember the later, full page ads for the OM1's. But FTL, not so much. Can anyone confirm whether these were ever marketed in the USA?
  30. Steve,
    I posted a Modern Photography test and 2 ads for the FTL up above.
    The 1972 Photography Directory & Buying Guide lists it. I do love and collect those.
    I think the OM System just overwhelmed the FTL. Olympus went all out in their ads for the OM-1 and it paid off. The OM cameras were very distinctive.

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