Olympus Pen Half-Frames, 1959-1981

Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
I have collected a few film cameras from this series, enjoyed using them as small and compact street shooters, and also displaying them for good sales bids. Currently, I am a proud owner of both a chrome and a black body Pen FT's, both fitted with the OM-Mount Lens Adapters for use with my Zuiko OM lenses. There is also the last of the series plastic bodied Pen EF displayed on the mantel.

I enjoyed looking up facts on the Olympus Pen series, a mix of innovative ideas that triggered the half-frame camera boom of the 1960s and 1970s, as a family of half-frame cameras made by Olympus. Designed by Yoshihisa Maitani as compact, easy to use and affordable consumer cameras, the Pen was the first half-frame camera produced in Japan. It was one of the smallest cameras to use 35mm film in regular 135 cassettes.

Small and compact both by weight and size to other 35mm film cameras then, the Pen featured a simple rear-winding mechanism, an Olympus D.Zuiko lens, already recognized for its image and rendering quality, and an attractive design that also made the camera extremely easy to use.

As an asset to its popularity, the Pen eventually leads to the design and production of the legendary Pen F Series half-frame single-lens system, another Olympus classic. Cumulative sales of the original Pen Series half-frame film cameras exceeded 17 million units.

The revival of the Pen Series Olympus Pen E-P1 First Impression Video by DigitalRev In 2009, Olympus revived the Pen series with the innovative introduction of the Pen E-P1, a Micro Four Thirds system digital camera which sets the trend for a new generation of Olympus Pen cameras.


Olympus Pen (1959)
Olympus Pen (1959), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen
Olympus Pen S (1960), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen S
The first-generation, introduced in 1959, designed for the consumer market to be compact, easy to use and affordable. The Pen combined the acknowledged performance of the D-Zuiko lens within a casing excellent portability. The Pen was also known to be used by professional photographers as a secondary camera.

The Olympus Pen S (1960) saw Olympus offering a D.Zuiko 30mm F2.8 lens as an upgrade to the original  30mm F3.5 lens of the original Pen.


Olympus Pen EE (1961)
Olympus Pen EE (1961), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen EE
Olympus Pen W (1964), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen W
Launched in 1961, the emphasis on the Olympus Pen EE was on efficiency. Features include a fixed focus lens, shutter speed of 1/60 sec., and automatic exposure adjustment. This model is iconic in the success and popularity of the Pen cameras, and its evolution saw the introduction of newer and updated models over the years of development, including the  Pen W (1964), Pen EE-2 (1968) and  Pen EE-3 (1973).

Olympus Pen EE-3 (1973), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen EE-3
The Pen W was designed specifically for wide-angle photography and comes with a wide-angle E.Zuiko 25mm F2.8 Lens.

The Pen EE-3 has a flashmatic system added. When used with the matching strobe (PS-200), the flashmatic system allowed the user to obtain a corrected aperture value by manually setting the aperture ring to the estimated distance. The lens was a D.Zuiko 28mm F3.5.


Olympus Pen EES (1962)
Olympus Pen EES (1962), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen EES
Olympus Pen EES-2 (1968), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen EES-2
Launched in 1962, the Olympus Pen EES was the world's first camera with a programmable EE shutter. The shutter speeds were 1/30 and 1/250 sec. The shutter speed changed automatically according to light level, thus increasing the appropriate exposure range. A three-zone focus system was used to adjust the focal point. The Olympus Pen EES heralded the start of the programmable EE camera boom.

The Pen EES-2 (1968) had a film counter that resets automatically, it could use ASA400 high-speed film, and comes with a hot shoe.


Olympus Pen D (1962)
Olympus Pen D (1962), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen D
Olympus Pen D3 (1963), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen D3
The Olympus Pen D was introduced in 1962 as the top model in the Olympus Pen range. Many professional features were packed into its compact body, including a high-performance F1.9 large-aperture lens, a high-speed 1/500 sec. shutter, and a built-in exposure meter that allowed direct reading of the LV.

The Pen D2 (1964), had an upgraded selenium cell exposure meter to a CdS system, and Pen D3 (1965) featured a wider-aperture F Zuiko 32mm F1.7 lens.


Olympus Pen EM (1965)
Olympus Pen EM (1965), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen EM
The Olympus Pen EM went on sale in 1965 with three new features: an electronic shutter, automatic film advance, and automatic rewind. The electronic shutter allowed an exposure range from 30 sec. down to 1/500 sec. according to the brightness of the subject. Power for the shutter, film advance and rewind systems was provided by two built-in AA batteries. Production of this model, however, ceased just after one year.


Olympus Pen F (1963)
Olympus Pen F (1963), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen F
Olympus Pen FV (1967), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen FV
The Olympus Pen F, introduced in 1963, was the world's first and only half-frame system single-lens reflex camera. The camera featured a Porro-prism finder and was the first to have a rotary titanium shutter. The Pen F system was complemented with a range of 20 exchangeable lenses. The Olympus Pen F was a revolutionary camera packed with innovative features. The rotary shutter, which combined speed with durability, was reportedly perfected only after a long and hard effort by Olympus engineers.

The Olympus Pen FV (1967) does not have the TTL exposure meter and M contact, and a CdS exposure meter coupled to the shutter dial was offered as an option.


Olympus Pen FT (1966)
Olympus Pen FT (1966), Olympus Pen Half-Frame Cameras
Olympus Pen FT
The Olympus PEN FT went on sale in 1966. Though identical to the Pen F in external appearance, it had a built-in TTL exposure meter. When the camera was pointed at a subject, the TTL number exposure control system displayed an aperture number in the view-finder according to the shutter speed setting. The FT came with many enhancements over the original F, including a single-action film advance system, and a built-in self-timer.




Resource Links:
The Original Olympus Pen Half-Frame Camera
Harold Feinstein Photographer - The Olympus Pen half-frame camera: Keeping it simple!

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