Thursday, January 12, 2023

OlyPen II

 It was just before Christmas 2021 that I got my first Olympus Pen half-frame camera, an Olympus Pen D3 ( I ran several rolls of film through that camera and, at the time, loved using it more than any of my other cameras (film or digital). The 32mm f1.7 lens was remarkably sharp and I got amazingly crisp and clear pictures from such a small frame size. Then, one day, the ‘click’ didn’t, and on investigation I found the shutter blades lying in a heap in the middle of the lens. The OlyPen had died.

Christmas 2022, bought OlyPen II to my door. It is a Pen EED model with fully automated exposure and that same 32mm f1.7 lens that I loved on the Pen D3. The Pen EED was manufactured between 1967 and 1972, though you wouldn’t know it to look at my copy. It has a much more modern design than the Pen D3 and I was fortunate to find one in immaculate condition.

Olympus Pen EED (1967-1972)

Aside from being small and portable, all the OlyPens, and most half-frame film cameras in general, have one unusual feature - when you hold them naturally, they take pictures in the portrait orientation, rather than the more common landscape. If you want landscape on an OlyPen, you must turn it sideways. 

This portrait orientation is no minor detail. It wasn't until I first used the OlyPen D3 that I realised that I naturally preferred portrait orientation. This natural preference, however, had always been suppressed by the poor ergonomics of holding my other cameras sideways. Once I used the OlyPen, I went from 80% landscape to shooting 95% portrait. The portrait orientation also lends itself to a diptych or triptych series in a way that landscape pictures don't. 
At the skate-park

Being half-frame images, the negatives from the OlyPen are never going to hit the heights of medium format for quality, nor even a good full-frame 35mm camera, but that isn't the OlyPen's purpose. The OlyPen is a carry-everywhere snapper - if artists carry a sketchbook, then the OlyPen is the photographer's sketchbook. Having said that, the OlyPen produces 20Mp scanned images that easily hold their own on social media and anything up to an 8"x10" print; thanks largely to that wonderful Olympus lens.
Mexican dominoes

I expect to have a lot more fun playing with the little OlyPen II. Hopefully, it will last a lot longer than my broken D3 before it gets taken to camera heaven.
Playing in the playground with the OlyPen

OlyPen photos were taken on either Fomopan 100 or Ilford FP4, developed in Rodinal, semi-stand for 1hr.

No comments:

Post a Comment