Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Olympus OM- Automatic Film Advance Devices
Motor Drives & Power Winders - Part I

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The OM System was the first to introduce a general purpose motor drive unit which capable of a high speed film advance rate of up to five frames per second (5 fps) without mirror lock-up. Yeap, among other competing professional class SLR models, the Nikon's MD-1 which would require the main reflex mirror to be lockup and cause viewing black out to achieve that rate. No big deal, Huh ? you'd better get some facts and comparison to see what has OM system achieved. Among the few top contenders, Canon introduced their original Motor Drive Unit back in 1971 just for their first professional class SLR system camera Canon F-1, which can only achieved a moderate 3 fps, the 2nd upgrade, MF Motor Drive improved the film advance rate marginally to 3.5 fps; as a matter of fact, it took Canon 5 years later* in 1977 to come out with an equivalent 5 fps Motor Drive MA which was originally designed for the Canon A-1 !

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" ... OLYMPUS 250 FILM BACK1 WITH 35-POF This is an Olympus 250 exposure back with the 35-POF computer attachment made by Miletus Assoc., New Mexico. I think this was made for record keeping and used by the USN. It will work as a long roll back on any OM1 or 2 and maybe with the OM3 & 4 as well. At any rate it's a cool item and if your into OM cameras this might be a great addition to your collection. It would work well for large group photos or sporting advents...." - Michael -

<<< --- A view of an OM2n attached with a Motor Drive 1 and OM 250 Bulk Film Back.

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Credit: Images courtesy of Mr. Michael Chandler® <> where he also operates a popular Ebay Store as well as a website on their own at Dexter Camera also can be reached by writing to: Dexters Camera 484 E Main St Ventura Ca 93001 USA 805-643-2172. Images copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.


The Pentax, if I can still recalled, their first 5 fps Motor Drive was only materialized with the 1980 Pentax LX's Motor Drive LX, while the Minolta impressive looking Minolta XK Motor, which was introduced a few years later after the normal XK/XM of 1972, has a fixed drive attached, can achieve only 3.5 fps.

On the contrary, OM motor Drive was almost a generation ahead of its many competitions, but it was incomparable in terms of size and weight even when compared with the mighty Nikon F2's drives, it is so light and compact, and further, it has also helped to open so much of new photographic possibilities with its fast film advance rate.

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That is, if we are talking about the comparison between the auto film advance speed rate... but the truly amazing part for one to notice is, OM Motor Drive design maintains the similar concept of compactness and lightweight, yet without has to compromise for reliability and performance. A direct visual comparison tells all what has Olympus achieved 20 + years ago...* However, Canon did produced a limited production High Speed Motor Drive camera with a fixed Pellicle mirror which was specially designed to cover the Olympic Games at Sapporo in 1972, the special edition Canon F1 camera can achieved 9 fps.

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<<< -- Credit: Image of OM1/MD and Nikon F/F36 apeared at far right courtesy of Mr Rick Oleson® <> who also co-maintains the popular OM Message Board in PIM site. Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Frankly, I don't believe it was that simple just by changing the base plate, especially when it relates to a mechanical camera such as the OM1. I Will post more findings when I get hold of a copy of the factory repair manual or if anyone of you guru out there knows more about these changes, please furnish more info to ease my doubts.

<<<<---- The "MD" plate that placed next to the lens mount is used to differentiate all those older OM bodies which are Motor Drive enabled or don't. It is, however not true to conclude those that don't have the logo are not usable with a motor drive as Olympus did accept earlier non-motor drive enabled OM bodies to be factory fitted with a base plate that has a motor drive coupling which allows the motor drive to be attached.

Other than that, the OM motor drives and winder provides great maneuverability and operability. Attaching a motor drive is almost as fast as changing a lens. All it involves is screwing the drive unit into the camera body tripod socket, and clipping on the power unit. The speed and ease of operation complement the simplicity of assembly. With a choice of battery loaded M18V Control Grip 1(2) or M.15V Ni-Cd Control Pack 1, both Motor Drive 1 and version 2 capable of providing many of the OM bodies a speed of up to five frames per second* while allowing normal viewing and, with the OM-2, individual frame exposure control. Over the years, Olympus has designed two high speed Motor Drive models and two slower Power Winders for the OM SLR photographic system. The first version of the motor drive was a dedicated units intended for OM-1 and OM-2 series models; while its 2nd upgrade, Motor drive 2 carries many advance features incorporated within to supplement second generation OM camera models such as OM-3(Ti), OM-4(Ti). It is mainly to take advantage of newer electronics and boosted the motor/camera combinations with more functional features and capabilities.

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With the exception of OM-10 and early OM-1 models (Prior to OM-1MD* ) which does not provide a motor drive coupling at its base plate and thus only restrict to use with either Winder 1 or Winder 2, most other OM models such as OM-20, OM-30 and OM-40 should have no problem used with these drives but differentiated with varying performance.

<<<<--- The new Motor Drive 2 shown at left has a modernize design with some very functional features incorporated but the best part is still with its backward compatibility with older OM SLR bodies such as OM1n/OM2n, even if some of the features not operational.* The original OM-1 can be differentiated from OM-1MD by verifying the base plate in which early M-1/OM-1 has no provision for Motor drive with a base plate that has not motor drive coupling.

For an example, OM-1 and OM-2 models should optimized at 5 fps with Motor Drive 1, but it can only advance at 3.5 fps with a OM-2 Spot Program; Motor Drive 2's power film rewind and auto advance to frame 1 features will ONLY work with OM-3(Ti) & OM-4(Ti) models but when these cameras are used with Motor Drive 1, it is not possible to enjoy the power film rewind etc. But what are the main differences and refinement made between Motor Drive 1 and Motor Drive 2 and how it affects respective OM SLR models ?
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Early OM Motor Drive 1 has no remote input atop its grip. It has only a flat top which acts as a shutter release. Subsequent upgrade has a tiny remote jack.

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The Motor Drive 2 has four additional electrical contacts, a rewind claw, and a rewind coupling to support its additional features. That applies to newer OM models such as a OM4 illustrated here. -->>>


But the base of a OM4 body, as illustrated at right, only shown with the five inline electrical contacts.


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Whatever it is, when you take off the motor drive coupling cover of either an OM1 or OM2 camera, the exposed shaft inside give you a sense of uncomfort (Like it will lead you to think dust and moisture penetration etc..). The OM4 (or newer equivalent OM SLR bodies) provides a better "visual" comfort.
N O T E : IF your OM1 camera has not provided with such an "opening" (Motor Drive Coupling) at the base plate, most likely yours is an earlier version of OM1 and you cannot attached a OM motor drive with the camera, unless, of cause, has the base plate changed but Olympus is not providing this service anymore. Anyway, good news is, some collectors are looking for such OM1 (especially the M-1) in such an original state.

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Olympus OM-1(n): Main Index Page (5 Parts) | Camera Operations (6 Parts)
HTML | PDF | Main Reference Map: HTML | PDF (217k)
Olympus OM-2(n): Main Index Page (6 Parts) | Camera Operations (9 Parts)
HTML | PDF (48k) Main Reference Map: HTML | PDF (203k)
Olympus OM-2SP: Camera Operations | Other Issues
Specifications: HTML | PDF | Main Reference Map: HTML | PDF

Shared Resources: Supplementary Articles:
TTL Metering, Depth of Field, Shutter Speed & Aperture
Motor Drive and Power Winder: Main Index Page (4 Parts)
Motor Drive 1 | Motor Drive 2 | Winder 1 | Winder 2
Flash Photography:
Main Index Page (4 Parts)
T45 | T32 | T20 | F280 | S20 | Qucik AUTO 310 | QA300, 200, 200S
Main Index Page (3 Parts)
Manual for
Photomicro Group (3 Parts) NEW upload !
Macro Flash Units:
T10 Ring Flash, T28 Twin, T28 Single, T8 Ring Flash
Databack 1-4 | Screens | Finder Accessory | Remote | Cases

Zuiko Lenses: Slowly developing..

Glossary of Photography
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used Instruction Manuals for various OM SLRs and Accessories.

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Site & Message Board Maintainers: Mr. Simon Evans <>; Mr. Rick Oleson <>; Mark Dapoz <>

Credit: My old time buddy, Ahmad Ikram, Dr of Rubber Research Institute (RRI), Malaysia who shares the same passion with me and also lending his OM-1n, OM-4 and the Motor Drive 1 to me for preparing some images in this site; Mark Dapoz <>for reminding some broken links; Mr Poon of Foto Poon, Ipoh, Mr Richard, Ampang Park, Mr Lim and Miss Jenny of Foto Edar for their generosity for their OM1(n), OM2n camera and some Zuiko lenses. Mr Hans van Veluwen for mistakenly using some content earlier from his OM website; J Sorensen for providing some useful images to rectify some technical "flaws"; Mr Gen Holst for helping during the early stages of development of this OM site; Mr KKLow for some of his earlier images on the OM-1appeared in this website; Miss Wati and Mirza for helping me to convert this Operation Manual into a HTML format. Mr MCLau for rectifying some mistakes made on the earlier preview sites. Site created 'unfortunately' again with a PowerMac. A personal tribute to the creator of the OM system and also a site dedicated to all the fans of Olympuses and Zuiko Optics worldwide. Some of the content and images appeared in this site were scanned from OM official marketing leaflets, brochures and instruction manual(s) for educational purposes. Olympus is a registered tradename of Olympus Optical Inc., Japan.