Olympus PEN-F Images

Olympus PEN-F Images

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2016

Olympus Pen-F Portraits

Olympus PEN F – Thoughts

To recap the Olympus PEN-F is a 1960s 35mm half frame SLR camera.  I bought the Pen F last month and i’ve now had time to shoot a few rolls of film in it.  I must say i’m more impressed with the resulting images than I thought I would be.  Half frame is certainly not half as good.  I enjoy the size of the Pen F, the stylish sleek look, the vertical framing, the close focusing of an SLR (verses say a Leica rangefinder) and the fact I can get 72 shots on a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film.

Olympus PEN F – Diptych

I found I enjoy shooting the Olympus Pen F by taking photos in pairs (diptych) the most.  My Epson V800 scanner recognised each pair of photos as one photo and then I just process the negative scans together and share as one image. Here are a few examples:

Olympus PEN-F Camera
The Dancer
Olympus PEN-F Diptych
Olympus PEN-F Test Shots
Olympus Pen F Portrait
London White Van Man
Olympus Pen F

Olympus PEN F – Triptych

I’ve also tried a few triptychs by taking a series of three photos together:

Admiralty Arch Triptych
Olympus PEN-F Triptych
Olympus Pen F Street Photography

Olympus PEN F – Detail and Resolution

Despite taking most photos in pairs I am still very impressed at the resolution and detail captured in a single frame:

Olympus Pen-F - Half Frame Detail
Half Frame Olympus Pen-F

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New Olympus PEN-F!

New Olympus PEN-F ..SLR!

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2016

New Olympus PEN-F

My New Olympus PEN-F camera

No not the 2016 new Olympus PEN-F digital camera.  A modern retro-styled 20.3MP micro four thirds digital camera. I mean a proper camera! 🙂  The original 1960s Olympus PEN F film camera.

The Olympus PEN F released in 1963 was the world’s first 35mm half frame SLR camera.  Made in Japan this new half frame SLR camera had a vertical 18x24mm format compared to the usual ‘full frame’ standard horizontal 35mm format (36×24).  In simple terms the PEN-F allows for 72 photos to be taken on a standard roll of 35mm 36 exposure film.  Similarly a 24 exposure roll of 35mm film gives 48 exposures.

My PEN-F

The Olympus PEN F model I bought was made between 1963-1966 before it was replaced with the PEN-FT.  The FT has a light meter built in but I was happy to have the earlier  fully mechanical PEN F instead.  The PEN is an SLR not a rangefinder.  In an ideal world I would have bought a Leica rangefinder half frame camera but they seem as rare as hen’s teeth and would be crazy expensive I imagine.  The camera I bought comes with the Olympus Zuiko Auto-S 38mm f1.8 lens.  38mm on a half frame body equates to 55mm in full frame terms so perfect for my portraits being a 50mm man.  The PEN camera lenses appear to be well regarded online and from some of the PEN F images I have reviewed on Flickr you would never guess it was not full 35mm.  Very sharp and seemingly high res film negative scans.  Obviously the choice of film will have a big impact so I will probably favour finer grain film.

Why a PEN-F Camera?

Yes I already have more than enough film cameras but I was introduced to this previously unknown to me camera format when I was teaching in New York.  We were discussing the Canon Demi. The Demi is another iconic 1960s half frame camera.  From there the research began.  As you may imagine I am not buying the PEN F because I want more resolution from a larger film negative as the negative size is smaller than the standard 35mm film used in my Leica film cameras (Leica M6 etc).  I bought the PEN F partly because the price is low and I like to experiment with different film cameras but mostly to see if it makes me shoot differently.

Half frame PEN-F

Why will the PEN-F makes me take photos any differently to when I use say a Leica or a Hasselblad camera.  72 photos on a roll film does make the cost of taking each photo pretty much half price (in simple terms) so I may take photos faster and think less.  Perhaps good for street photography where is it easy to get less good photos (“keepers”) when compared to staged and controlled model photography images.  As I do mostly portrait photography this is not high up on my needs list.  The small size of the PEN F?  Yes that is a big plus as I can carry the camera with me even easier than say the Leica M6 with a small lens attached.  Again though perhaps not a big enough size difference to forgo not carrying a Leica.

I bought the PEN F as I want to try shooting photos in pairs and threes and sharing them as taken scanned side by side on the uncut section of negative.  It will make me approach subjects differently, models or otherwise and then if I enjoy the style I can transfer that over to my full frame film camera work whether 35mm or medium format.

I like to experiment and if I find I then don’t use the PEN F  I can probably sell it on eBay and lose very little if any money.

Sample film images to follow.. depending how long it takes me to shoot through 72 film exposures!