Olympus Pen

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The Pen series is a family of half-frame cameras made by Olympus from 1959 to the beginning of the 1980s. They are viewfinder fixed lens cameras, except the Pen F series of half-frame SLRs which is discussed in another page.

The original Pen was introduced in 1959. It was designed by the famous camera designer Yoshihisa Maitani, and was the first half-frame camera produced in Japan. It was one of the smallest camera ever to have used the regular 35mm film. It was thought to be as portable as a pen, hence the name. The idea was to be much copied by other Japanese makers.

A series of derivatives followed, some easier to use with the introduction of exposure automation in the Pen EE, others with a wider aperture lens and a manual meter, as the Pen D.

In 1966 the arrival of the Rollei 35, a camera almost as compact but making normal 24x36 exposures, would announce the beginning of the end for the half frame concept. However Olympus went on producing the simpler models of the Pen family until at least 1983.

In the descriptions below, please note that the focal lengths indicated do not give the same angle of view as if they were full-frame cameras, the 30mm is roughly equivalent to a 45mm, and the 28mm to a 40mm.

The Pen and Pen S

The original Pen is a very compact half-frame camera, with just a viewfinder, no meter and fully manual settings. It has a 28mm f:3.5 Zuiko lens. Its shutter settings were 25 - 50 - 100 - 200 - B.

The Pen S is almost the same camera, with the following shutter settings: 8 - 15 - 30 - 60 - 125 - 250 - B. It existed in two versions, with a 30mm f:2.8 lens or with a f:3.5 lens.

The Pen D series

The Pen D was a more expensive model, launched in 1962. It has a 32mm f:1.9 lens, a shutter going to 1/500 and an uncoupled selenium meter.

The Pen D2, launched in 1964, is the same model with an uncoupled CdS exposure meter replacing the selenium one.

The Pen D3, launched in 1965, is the same with a 32mm f:1.7 lens.

The Pen EE series

The Pen EE was introduced in 1961 and was the amateur model, with fully automatic exposure and fixed focusing. It is a true point and shoot camera, and has a 28mm f:3.5 lens. The Pen EE family is easily recognized by the selenium meter window around the lens.

The Pen EE.S, launched in 1962, is the same model with a 30mm f:2.8 and a focusing ring, made necessary by the lens' wider aperture.

In 1966 the two cameras were slightly modified and became the Pen EE (EL) and Pen EE.S (EL) with a modification of the take up spool to make the film loading easier. EL stands for Easy Loading. You can only recognize them by a small label marked EL stuck on the front, or you can open them and look at the take up spool.

The Pen EE.2, produced from 1968 to 1977, is nearly the same as the Pen EE with the addition of a hot shoe. The Pen EE.3, produced from 1973 to 1983, seems to be exactly the same camera.

The Pen EE.S2, produced from 1968 to 1971, is the same as the Pen EE.S with the addition of a hot shoe.

The Pen EE.D, produced from 1967 to 1972, is a more expensive automated exposure model, with a CdS meter, a 32mm f:1.7 lens and a hot shoe.

The Pen EF, launched in 1981, was the last Pen model. It is like the Pen EE.2 or Pen EE.3, but with a small built-in flash, and was only sold in black finish with white letterings.

The Pen Wide

The Pen W or Pen Wide is a very rare variant of the Pen S model, with a wide angle 25mm f:2.8 lens, equivalent to a 35mm in full format. It only exists in black finish, and has a cold flash shoe. It was only produced between 1964 and 1965, and today fetches high prices on the collectors' market.

The Pen EM

The Pen EM, produced from 1965 to 1966, is a motorized Pen model. It has a 35mm f:2 lens, and a CdS exposure meter allowing automatic or manual exposure.

The Pen Rapid models

The Pen Rapid EE.S and Pen Rapid EE.D were variants of the Pen EE.S and Pen EE.D designed to accept the Agfa Rapid cassette instead of the regular 35mm cassette. They were both made from 1965 to 1966, and met very little success.



  • Histoire de l'appareil photographique Olympus de 1936 à 1983, by D. & J.-P. Francesch, ed. Dessain et Tolra
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