Olympus Pen EF, A Half-Frame Camera

The Olympus Pen EF, a half-frame 35mm film camera was the last in the series of Pen half-frame film camera models from Olympus (although some say that its production was outlived by the Pen EE3 by up to three years more). Available only in black with white lettering, the Pen EF differs itself from the Pen clan with the addition of a small built in flash, powered by a single AA battery.

Launched in 1981, the Pen EF is a true point and shoot camera, with selenium metered automatic exposure system, a fixed focus G Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 lens with a focal range from 1.4 meters to infinity, and a programmed lens shutter mechanism range from F3.5-1/30 sec. to F22-1/250 sec. Exposure control is thus by the EE meter, and the shutter release will be locked when the camera detects underexposure, which is indicated by a red warning signal displayed in the bright frame viewfinder.

Oly35mm Review - Pen EF
Pull the flash tab on the front of the camera down to release and charges the flash, shutter speed is set to 1/30 sec. and you are now ready for flash photography. The flash recycling time is approximately 7 seconds, and you may get up to 180 shots with a single AA alkaline battery (original manufacturer's claim). Film speed range is ASA 25 - 400, adjusted by aligning the red mark of the outer of the lens ring to correspond to the film speed or ASA you are using.

The Half-Frame Film Format
The film format for half-frame cameras is 24 x 18 mm on a regular 135 film, which is half the size of a normal 35mm frame of 24 x 36 mm. With a half-frame camera, one can shoot and capture twice as many images on a standard roll of film - 48 shots on a 24-exposure roll, 72 shots on a 36-exposure roll, and so on. Film framing for half-frames is in the vertical or portrait orientation, much like if you are using a mobile to shoot vertical images, rather than the horizontal landscape format, which is more often the norm for photographic imaging.

The 35mm film cartridge that we know today was first introduced in 1934 with the Nagel Retina camera, which later became the Kodak Retina. The 35mm film is also called 135 films because that was the number Kodak assigned it. The standard 24mm x 36mm frame uses 864 sq. mm of film surface.

Using the Camera
For the point-and-shoot photographer, using the Olympus Pen EF to capture images is a fairly straightforward. The Pen EF is fully automatic, one of the easiest to use, and does not offer any control over shutter speed and aperture.

The one setting that you have to remember is to properly set the camera to the film speed (ASA) that you using. Do this by aligning the red mark on the external side ring of the camera to the ASA number engraved on the lens mount bracket. The Pen EF will accept film speeds (ASA) of 25 to 400.

There is no LCD panel, of course, you have to bring the camera up to your eye level, frame the image in the bright-line viewfinder, hold the camera steady, and press the shutter release. Turn the film advance knob to move the film to the next frame and you are ready to shoot again.

Shutter Lock
The shutter will lock and a red flag warning will be displayed in the viewfinder if the camera detects that there is insufficient lighting to illuminate the subject and its ambiance which will render the image under-exposed.
Get set now for flash photography.

Press the activate flash level on the front of the body down to engage the pop-out flash, wait for the flash to be fully charged, and continue with your photography session. Push the flash unit back to its original position to end the session.

The camera needs a single battery to power the flash. You can still use it without the battery if you are not using the camera with the flash mode on.

Loading the Film Cassette
To load the film cassette into the camera:
  1. Open the back of your Pen EF by pushing down the small metal latch at the bottom of the flash side of the camera.
  2. Pull the rewind knob up and insert the 35mm film cassette into the left side of the camera back. Once inserted, push the film rewind dial down to lock the film canister into place.
  3. Pull a small amount of film from the cassette, across the camera back, and insert the film leader into a slot on the film take-up reel.
  4. When the film is firmly spooled on the take-up reel, advance the film using the film advance crank. Observe to make sure that the film has started to wind around the take-up reel. Close the back of your camera.
  5. With the camera back closed, release the shutter and continue advancing the film with the film advance lever until the indicator reads frame 1.

Unloading the Film Cassette
To unload the film cassette from the camera:
  1. Turn the camera over and press the small take-up reel release button within an indent on the bottom panel. This will allow you to safely rewind the 35mm film. Failure to do this, i.e. keeping the button pressed while rewinding, may lead you to rip and damage the film or even the camera itself.
  2. Lift the small lever of the film rewind dial on top of the camera body, located just behind the flash housing.
  3. Turn the lever in a clockwise motion to start rewinding. You will feel some tension as it does.
  4. Continue turning the lever until you feel a release in tension, or you may hear a small clicking noise. Your rewind in now complete.
  5. Open the back of the Pen EF by pushing the latch as you have opened the back before. Pull the rewind knob up, and the film cassette can now be removed and developed.

Resource Links:
Curated Colors: Olympus Pen-EF
Review - Olympus PEN EF Half Frame Camera

Note: An edited version of this article has previously been posted on my account on HubPages, which is being depreciated.

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