Since taking up photography I have had a real soft spot for Olympus cameras, my first digital camera was an Olympus and so too my first film camera. This Christmas I received as a gift, another camera to add to my growing Olympus family, the Pen EE-2.
I received the Pen EE-2 as a gift from a family member, what’s really so cool about this gift is that it cost nothing, my daughter spotted this camera via social media, from someone who was cleaning out some of their old junk. This makes it extra special.
The Original Olympus - Pen (1959)
The Pen series is a family of half-frame cameras made by Olympus from 1959 to the beginning of the 1980's. Most of the Pen film cameras are fixed lens viewfinder cameras, with the exception of the Pen F which was a more up market SLR type camera, with an interchangeable lens system. The Pen family is still continued today in the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system.
Pen F Film Camera
The Latest Micro Four Thirds Digital Pen
I already own the original film Pen F which is the more sophisticated younger cousin of the Pen EE-2, the Pen F is a super little camera, so when I unwrapped the Pen EE-2 on Christmas morning I was surprised and very happy with my new acquisition. The Pen EE-2 is a very different camera to the Pen F, the Pen F being a mini SLR like camera, the EE-2 is basically a point and shoot.
My Two Pen's, EE-2 (front left) F (rear right)
Olympus originally introduced the Pen system in 1959, a very compact fully manual camera, it had no meter, a fixed 28mm F3.5 lens and a maximum shutter speed of 1/200 sec. It was also the very first half frame camera manufactured. The EE range is easily recognizable with its selenium meter around the front of the lens, this was a feature that was continued with the later full frame Olympus Trip range of cameras, the Pen EE however is noticeably smaller in size.
The Pen EE-2 Selenium Meter
The Pen EE introduced in 1961 was the amateur model with fully automatic exposure and fixed focusing, my camera the EE-2 was produced from 1968 – 1977, the only difference to the previous model was the inclusion of the hot shoe.
The camera has a 28mm F3.5 fixed lens, and like the EE has fixed focusing. It has two modes, a fully automatic mode, just set the ASA (range from 25 – 400 ASA) and away you go. In this mode the aperture self adjusts to the light available, once there is insufficient light a red flag displays in the viewfinder and the shutter release becomes inoperable. The camera also has what is stated in the owners manual as a "manual mode" for me its more of an “Aperture Override” mode, I wont call it aperture priority, but you can manually set the aperture. When in this mode, shooting is not monitored by the meter, and shutter will fire under all light conditions. Although I have not trialed the camera using this mode I am thinking it could be useful for pushing and pulling film. The camera has two shutter speed modes 1/200 sec and 1/40 sec, shutter speed is automatically stepped down form 1/200 sec to 1/40 sec once aperture is below F8. Lens is fixed focus of 1.5m to infinity.
Anyways enough about specs and more about the experience of using this camera. I loved it! It's just so perfect for some fun street photography It’s small size makes it easy to put in your pocket, therefore no worries about taking a clumsy bag and accessories. Being a half frame means you double your yield on a roll of film, 36 exposures becomes 72 exposures, thus giving you far more freedom to experiment. You would think being a point and shoot only, that this would be restricting and yes I suppose it could be, but the flip side to this is the freedom you now poses to solely focus on composition and subject.
On my recent stroll around the Auckland CBD I was totally relaxed while shooting this little fella, and because of its size and the fact that it attracts very little atention, I can be in “Tourist Mode" most of the time and get away with shooting so much more. Unlike the Pen F which has a very cheap sounding noisy shutter this has a cute silky almost silent “click”.
While the experience was enjoyable the images that have resulted from my first 3 rolls of film are equally enjoyable, I was most pleasantly surprised with the accuracy of exposure that this camera gave me, I had correct exposure on all 3 rolls (in auto mode). Check out my images from my Auckland shoot on a roll of Neopan Acros 100 (shot at 400 ASA)...
* Half Frame
* Fixed focus point and shoot
* Selenium meter (no batteries required)
* Auto mode and aperture override mode
* Includes a hot shoe
* Aperture F3.5 - F22
So in summary if you’re thinking about shooting film and want a good starting point, a “toe dipper”, or maybe you already have a history with film, give this little camera a try.