Sunday, October 31, 2010

Olympus Pen EES-2 arrived!

My 'first' Olympus Pen arrived today! And it's beautiful!

It has a few scratches on it, and the flocking inside the camera has largely deteriorated - but I'm hoping that it's still light tight?

Overall condition I would say is 7 out of 10 - actually better than I thought it was going to be, so I'm very happy :-)

First impressions: it's beautiful (did I say that already), very well made, solid but compact and incredibly simple yet functional. And it's completely manual - no batteries! That blows me away almost more than anything. For the first five minutes I kept looking for the battery compartment - but of course there is none. This, however, means it's limited to just a couple of shutter speeds (1/200th sec for normal shooting, or 1/40th sec for flash), but that's the price you pay for this 'lower end' fixed lens Pen.

The EES-2 was produced between 1968 to 1971 and was pushed by Olympus as an easier (read more automatic) camera to use. Once you set the ISO from between 25 and 400, turn the aperture dial to AUTO, and set the focus ring in one of four places; close up (1m), portrait (1.5m), group portrait (3m) or landscape (infinity), then it's a simple matter of point and shoot.

Looking through the fairly smallish but bright and clear half-frame viewfinder is kind of unusual the first few times. The viewfinder orientation is actually portrait, rather than the more traditional 35mm landscape look - because the Pen is... half frame. So a 24 exposure film will give you 48 frames, and a 36 exposure film will get you 72 frames! Cool.

And although I haven't shot a roll through it yet, old Olympus brochures for their half frame system claim that there isn't as much loss of quality as you'd think when you enlarge it up to 8x10. The ratio of a half-frame negative means that there's not as much cropping required than there is from a 35mm format. And the Olympus Zuiko 30mm f2.8 fixed lens is reported to be a beautifully sharp lens that records lovely crisp colours.

Have loaded a roll of 24 exposure Fuji Reala 400 ISO film in it, and will hopefully get a chance to shoot it all this week so I can get the results back to make sure everything is working OK. Will post on my first shooting experiences with it once I'm done.

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