Olympus Pen F

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The Pen F is a half-frame single lens reflex camera introduced in 1963 by Olympus. It is designed by the highly respected and quite famous engineer Maitani Yoshihisa[1], who also has created the Olympus Pen point-and-shoot series, as well as the OM-1 and the Olympus XA. The original model is easily recognized by its big golden gothic letter F engraved to the right on the front plate, where later models sport a selftimer lever.

The Pen F is a quite compact camera with an unusual viewfinder, which completely avoids the traditional SLR prism bulge because the reflex mirror flips sideways, which results in a compact viewfinder arrangement. The Pen F has a bayonet mount for interchangeable lenses. There is a release button and a depth of field preview button at the top of the lens close to the lens mount.

The focal plane shutter, which uses a rotating metal disc, has synchronisation at all speeds right up to 1/500 sec. The wind lever must be operated twice before each exposure, the high gear ratio thought necessary to wind the stiff shutter spring effortlessly, and Maitani, growing up with Leicas, would at first accept the early Leica M3 twin stroke concept as fast. The camera has no built-in light meter, but a separately available one can be placed on the shutter-speed dial, attached to a two-pronged bayonet mount by a 90-degree twist. A small narrow button on the side releases the meter. The shutter speed dial is operated by a serrated ring at the lower side of the meter. Some 190,000 cameras of this first model were made.


Pen-FT

The Pen FT with a built-in TTL exposure meter replaced the Pen F in 1966, but the finder image is slightly dimmer since some light is directed to the meter cell. The meter is not coupled to the diaphragm ring though, which makes using it a bit slow. The Pen FT also introduced a single-stroke advance with a longer wind lever, and a self-timer. The latter has a large lever at the front where the gothic F on the first model was placed. The release button is at the hub of the self-timer lever. This model was available in chrome and black. Some 275,000 Pen FT cameras were made.

Pen-FV

The Pen FV was launched in 1967 and is a Pen FT without the light meter, but with the single stroke lever and the self-timer. It is the least common of the three models, about 45,000 cameras were made.

A significant range of Pen F lenses were made available, as well as an extensive range of Pen F accessories. Many adaptors exist to mount other types of lenses to the Pen F.

Special models for microphotography and medical use, sometimes found for sale, has a round viewfinder image and is not well suited for normal use. Converting the finder is complex and not considered practical. The medical models are never market with the gothic F, and were not available with a self-timer.

Notes

  1. The name is given in the Japanese order, with family name followed by the given name.

Bibliography

  • Francesch, Dominique and Jean-Paul. Histoire de l'appareil photographique Olympus de 1936 à 1983. Paris: Dessain et Tolra, 1985. ISBN 2-249-27679-X.

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