I seldom encountered such a quiet camera, doubled by a fast-ish lens and spot-on rangefnder accuracy.
The front of the camera shows the 4 element, D.Zuiko 45mm f/2.8 lens that is similar in it’s optical formula to the 45mm P Nikkor. Along the top from left to right are the film wind/shutter cock single throw lever, the button, a hot(?) shoe, and the rewind crank. Right below the button is the selenium Electric-Eye, that was found to be working, and which determined the exposure. Camera can be used in manual mode, see below for manual aperture use. In the center, above the lens, is the range-finder window, which also provides illumination for the moving frame lines. All the way to the right, is the main viewfinder.
There is a semi-circular giude number control attached to the upper right quadrant of the lens barrel. There are also two tiny eyelets. The body is constructed of a brushed and machined, hard, white metal, and is partially covered with that textured leather cloth that adorned most cameras made before 1980. The body, lens, and the Copal leaf shutter are separately serial numbered. The oval Olympus – Tokyo and “Made In Japan” are embossed in the lower right back of the camera
The top of the camera is very simple. The thumb crank needs only be thrown once (as in modern manual-drive SLR cameras) to advance the film and cock the shutter. It sits flush with the body, but is easily engaged with a short thumb movement. You can probably fire off a couple shots a second. There is an ASA reminder window in the center of the crank.
On the left is a nicely made rewind crank. Be sure to turn the handle sideways so it closes flush. There is a film plane indicator, A hot-shoe, and the button takes a standard cable release.
Set the shutter speed desired by rotating the Shutter Speed dial on the lens barrel. Although the dial is marked from 1 sec. to 1/500 sec. the slower speeds are unreliable. A bulb setting is available, that is press to open, and release to close. A self timer on the top of the lens, takes about 10 seconds.
When looking through the viewfinder, you will see a much brighter and clearer display than is depicted in the photo below, but the main elements can be seen. A bright rounded rectangle defines the picture area. As you focus closer, the lines shift to compensate for the paralax that is common to all range-finder cameras. The bright yellow rectangle in the center is the range-finder display. There is the normal image, and a yellow image. Rotating the focus (outermost) ring on the lens will cause the yellow image to shift position. When the yellow image coincides with the unfiltered image, the part of the image inside the rectangle are in focus. The focus is very accurate.
Because the Auto-Eye is designed to be a fuly automatic exposure camera, with the f-stop set by the electro-mechanical control within the camera, there is no aperture adjustment. However, as mentioned above, the meter is not functioning properly, so you can set the aperture by adjusting the ASA (ISO) control located on the bottom of the lens. To open the aperture, slide the control toward a lower ASA number.
With all it’s idiosyncrasies, the Olympus Auto Eye, adds a great amount of the element of surprise to your photography (ie. it makes happy accidents.) It would benefit from a wide latitude color negative or medium speed black and white film for sun and shadow shooting. I would not recommend it for slide film, but with it’s large f/2.8 maximum aperture, and the B shutter setting, it would be perfect for tripod mounted, or expressionist, low light work.
For manual and lightmeter repair of this camera, see the literature link on the left of this page.