Initially, I was not at all attracted to this camera: the bulky appearance and its heft was something I was not accustomed to. My idea of an Olympus SLR (well, this is not exactly that), was the OM1 which I was totting back then. But a friend of mine from Hemel Hempstead had one, he borrowed it to me and I took it for a spin on the outskirts of Watford (Herts). From what I recall, the film was an Ilford Pan F50.
First thing that surprised me (pleasant wise) was the autofocus ability, which was a new thing for me. Quite a fast response, and the fact that it could zoom in at a press of a conveniently placed button was a plus. This camera started to be more on my liking, but the heft of it was still an issue. It was by far the heaviest camera I used until that moment. Anything else was at half the weight of this beast.
This camera is a “zoom lens reflex “, and until then I never heard about it. It basically means that you have an SLR with a built in zoom capability, on this camera the zoom is 4x. The lens is a multi-coated 35-135mm f4.5/5.6 lens with 16 elements in 12 groups and including an ED (Extraordinary Dispersion) objective lens element. It can focus manually via the PF (Power Focus) button.
The backplate shows various settings, quite handy placed around the LCD screen, which is of good quality. The viewfinder is also displaying various information, like metering values, the F and shutter speed engaged, good luminance as well.
There are several programs this camera can engage, combined or used as standalone options. Exposure is automatically (electronically) controlled, via full program, aperture-priority and manual modes. The camera can be switched between Electro Sensitive Pattern, centre-weighted and spot metering, and exposure can be manually adjusted, up or down, by means of two buttons well placed right under your index finger, near the release button.
Although I never used it, the option of taking a portrait by auto zoom to the right focal is a brilliant function. Also, the auto zoom setting for the right focal to shoot a bit more than just head (head and torso, full height of the person) is also present and provides very good results.
Under the LCD screen, a small spring-loaded door gives access to several buttons, such as above. True, the buttons are minuscule, but there is a slot along the button port so you can use your fingernail to push it.
Left side gives you access to the zoom buttons, self, and on/off. There is the manual switch for the flash head to be deployed, as in when needed. I like the way lens retracts fully, when camera is switched off. Btw, this is an automatically DX selector camera; the ISO value cannot be manually put in. It is also a battery operated camera, requiring 2 x CR123A to be operated.
And finally, a few words about the excellent job that the Olympus people did with the flash on this camera. The built-in flash is pretty unique, so to say. It has actually two lamps, one of which bursting in mini-flashes to reduce the red-eye effect, and the other is a real TTL system. This TTL measures the distance to the subject and lights it accordingly, instead of reading the reflected light emitted by the same subject. This method works very well with say, dark backgrounds or light subjects on light backgrounds, etc.