Olympus OM4 – Intelligent Metering….1983

Anybody who has shot with film will know that shooting in situations where you have contrasting light is a nightmare.

Take this example – you’re shooting indoors in a not particularly well lit room. It’s a bright day out and there’s a window behind your subject. Because meters typically take an average reading for the light across the whole scene (with a bias towards the centre) the meter will often think it is lighter than it is where it’s dark, and darker than it actually is where it’s light.

The result - images where you subject is too dark to even make out, and a bright white light lacking any detail at the window, particularly if your subject is off centre.

Just like they had with the OM1, Olympus came up with something truly revolutionary. It’s something included not only in all digital SLRs today, but something that comes to us all naturally when using the camera on our phones.

They invented ‘Spot Metering’.

This new way of metering on the OM4 enabled you to select up to 8 different points in the scene, which the camera would then take an average for. The camera could then apply the settings needed to get the right exposure. Quite how they managed something as complex as that in 1983 baffles us to this day, but they did, and they did it oh so well.

If you can afford it – they don’t come cheap! – this remains probably the most intelligent and comprehensive manual focus film SLR camera you could lay your hands on. An absolute joy to shoot with. The fact Olympus were still making this, a manual focus camera, well into the autofocus era - 2002 to be precise - tells you what a gem this camera was. And that it still is.