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Favorite Classics Cameras Olympus Pen
Olympus Pen
by Henry Taber

In this section we are highlighting two totally different half-frame camera concepts. The two ends of the spectrum... Inexpensive to pricey, from near point and shoot to a complete SLR system.

The Pen EES-2 was a very late comer in the Olympus Pen line. The Pen’s started in the late 50’s as an attempt to make a cheap camera. Olympus failed. There is nothing cheap in the way an EES-2 produces superb photographs, nor in its ergonomic arrangement of minimal controls. It’s small in size but its quality can be felt in ones hands and seen in enlargements. The 30mm 1:2.8 lens is a fine piece of glass.

The way Olympus managed to produce and sell it so cheaply was to minimize the number of parts. And in reducing the number of parts, inevitably some camera functions were also reduced. For instance, there are only two shutter speeds: 1/30 and 1/250 of a second. (Confirmed by actual digital shutter speed testing. After 30 years each speed was only a couple milli-seconds off of perfect.) And there is no metered manual exposure mode. It does however have the ability to manually set the aperture anywhere between 2.8 and 22. The aperture settings are really for flash and a flash shoe and flash socket are standard equipment.

It has lock-needle metering with a shutter lockout when exposure is beyond the aperture/2 shutter speed range. But for daytime snapshots this is no encumbrance since the aperture range using only 1/30 equates to EV 9 through EV 15. Which corresponds to photos taken from well-lit interiors to very bright sunlight with ASA 100 film. The additional 1/250 adds 3 more stops of flexibility. One cannot, however, manually shift between the two speeds. The camera determines which speed will be utilized automatically as part of the lock-needle set-up. In fact, the simplicity of taking pictures boils down to: zone focus, aim and shoot. Anyone can manage well exposed photos when things are this easy. Even me!

And since the number of parts were reduced the dependability and ease of maintenance is exceptional. See the section on cleaning the aperture blades. (See "Additional Info below") I have handled several Pen EES-2’s and dirty/oily aperture blades is the only failures I can recall.

Now to the other end of the spectrum there is the Olympus Pen F/FT/FV. Which are all basically the same camera. The one shown here is the FT model. It has a built in meter.

I believe it is the smallest SLR to use 35mm film. Although small it is a fairly heavy camera. Not much plastic here! Along with the 3 body models there are 17 lenses and nearly every accessory you’ll find in the upper scale Nikon/Canon SLR systems. This is one fine camera system.

The only thing I dislike about the FT is that the meter is uncoupled to the lens.

Olympus Viewfinder Pen Cameras - A Definitive Guide for Collectors by John Foster
Olympus Pen F Nostalgia

Olympus Pen Gallery
Olympus Pen F, FT, FV
Olympus Half Frame Cameras - The Sub Club
The Development of Pen Cameras
Current Research - Viewfinder Pens

Many thanks to an individual (who wishes to be anonymous) for donating the Pen F/FT/FT Black/FV photos to Favorite Classics for display

Olympus Pen EES-2

Olympus Pen F

Olympus Pen FT w/ Tele/Wide Lenses

Olympus Pen FT

Olympus Pen FT (Black)

Olympus Pen FV