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[OM] Aria: The OM5?

Subject: [OM] Aria: The OM5?
From: Denton Taylor <denton@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 19:08:39 -0400
So, I picked up my new Contax Aria today. 

There was a lot of work done on a wish list for an OM5, and I wanted to see
how close the Aria comes to fulfilling some of those wishes. Personally, I
think the Aria would have been the logical camera for Olympus to build. It
is small, light, and well-engineered. It seems that a majority of Olyphiles
were attracted to Olympus because of the small size and weight of the
system compared to its contemporaries.

I took out my 4t and compared both cameras and spec sheets.

The Aria is actually about an ounce lighter than the 4t, even with a
built-in 3fps winder. Of course this light weight is achieved by use of the
dreaded polycarbonate, A.K.A. _plastic_.However, it is used judiciously.
The lens mount and mirror box are stainless steel, and the top cover is
also metal. It's really the film chambers that are plastic. With even the
most expensive cameras using some polycarbonates, this should not be an
issue. It is doubtful that anyone (besides Leica) including Oly, will ever
again build a classic metal camera like the 4t.

The Aria certainly does not have a cheap, plasticy feel; nor should it, for
$580! After one gets over the lightness, one realizes that it is very well
made indeed. The body has the rubbery covering similar to other Contaxes,
and indeed, many other cameras. The controls are smooth and positive.

Dimensionally, compared to the 4t, the Aria is 1mm wider, 8.5mm higher, and
3.5mm thicker. For any metrically-challenged readers, the 8.5mm dimension
is less than 3/8".

The Aria has all the modern features one would hope for, including
DX-encoding; matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering (no multi-spot,
though); manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and program control
(SP and Program with MM lenses, but program mode is not shiftable); and
exposure compensation with ABC bracketing. The bean-counters managed to axe
one feature found on the 4t and other high-end Contax bodies--built-in
variable diopters.

One thing almost everyone asked for in an OM5 is to have both shutter speed
and aperture in the viewfinder, and Contax has obliged. The viewfinder also
tells you what metering and what exposure mode you are in. When in manual,
a bar graph appears giving exposure info needed. The bar graph disappears
when in AP, SP, or Program modes. Interestingly enough, many die-hard
Contax users have stated that they have no need for matrix metering.
Personally, I feel the more choices, the better. Contax appears to have
made one interesting concession to the traditionalists; when in Matrix
mode, the bar-graph reappears and displays the _difference_ between the
matrix reading and center-weighted reading.

Certain features are user-programmable, including the choice to leave the
film leader out of the cannister. 

Tomorrow I will shoot a roll or two, and see how they come out.

In case anyone from Oly is listening, would you buy this exact camera in an
Oly mount? Since Oly has already outsourced the OM2000, why not throw on
some titanium or chrome covers, make a couple of spot meter improvements,
and badge it OM5? Hell, I'd buy one!


Denton Taylor
Photogallery at www.dentontaylor.com

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