Saturday, January 8, 2022

Olympus Pen D3


Until you hold an Olympus Pen camera in your hand, it is hard to imagine just how small they are.  Pictures show a perfectly proportioned 35mm film camera (which it is) but in the hand, it is quite diminutive - smaller even than my everyday digital Fujifilm cameras, the X-M1 and the X-E3 (themselves quite small).

The "Oly-pen" arrived just before Christmas and it took a couple of weeks to run through the first roll of film - not least of all because a standard 36 exposure film can accommodate 72 shots in the Oly-pen's half-frame format.  I had been concerned that the quality of the images, given the smaller negatives, wouldn't meet my normal standards. Usually, I get clean 24Mp images from standard 35mm film and, rather surprisingly, I found that the Oly-pen produced equally clean 20Mp files in a 4:3 aspect ratio (despite its size disadvantage).

That first roll was a resounding success - despite this photographer's mess-up. Knowing that the light-meter would be reading incorrectly (due to an incorrect voltage battery) I compensated by adjusting the ISO. Only, dingbat that I am, I adjusted the ISO the wrong way, resulting in 72 frames that were about 3 stops underexposed. Despite this, the rescued shots all turned out remarkably well and demonstrated that the Oly-pen was a very useable camera.

Manufactured between 1965 and 1969, the Oly-pen D3 makes a great street camera, it is discrete and, using zone focusing, quick to use. With the appropriate exposure dialled in (not necessarily too accurately!) and the focus set, taking a shot is a simple wind, shoot ... wind, shoot, affair with an almost inaudible 'snick' as each shot is taken. 

Given its small size, ease of operation, fast and sharp f1.7 lens, and immense 'fun' factor, the Oly-pen is destined to become my everyday, casual photography, film-favourite.

Photos (except the first) were taken on Ilford FP4, developed in 'Caffenol' for 8 minutes, scanned and processed in Exposure X7.

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