Half Frame: Olympus EE-2

When I think back over maybe 46ish years of photo making I’ve used and owned pretty much all formats that might be considered “normal”. By this I mean mainstream enough that you may once have found the films on sale at your local camera store of the day. I’ve never tried 5×7 or 11×14 (yet) – but certainly 126, 110, Disc (!), APS, 35mm, 120 (various flavours), a little 4×5, and even once, Agfa Rapid! The only one that I’ve never used to make pictures is half-frame. Last week that changed.

On one of my charity/thrift store rummages I came across an Olympus Pen EE-2. The famous Maitani Yoshihisa, was the designer of the original Pen and many other classic Olympus cameras like the XA and the OM SLR range. The idea was that this would be as portable as a “Pen”, and it was released in 1959. There were several models over the years and the EE-2 was released in 1968, and ran until 1977. It’s about as old as me!

It’s very much like the Trip 35 to my eye. Same body covering and style, very similar selenium cell meter around the lens, a D Zukio 28mm f3.5, inside looks similar too. Of course the major difference is that the half-frame format is “portrait” when holding the camera “normally”. The counter goes up to 72, the shutter release has provision for a cable release, while the ISO setting was expanded on this model to range from 25-400. That’s about it – this is a fixed focus model, no zone focus here. I had an old roll of Konica Centuria 200, with an expiry date of 2005 lurking so popped it in, and took it with me on one of my visits to Poole.

The exposure seems easily swayed by the inclusion of any sky in an image, although let’s remember the film here is 18 years out-of-date, but in relation to the other shots, this seems to be the case. The close focus doesn’t appear to be that “close” either – I reckon about 1.5 meters. Anything less looks soft, further seems very good! I’m not sure that this is a camera that I shall keep. I have too many already, and while this was fun, my XA2 produces much better results, and is just as light and small. History seems to agree, with the advent of the XA’s, Minox and Rollei 35’s – half frame and particularly the “Pen” range seemed to die a bit of a death and in 1981 the Pen-EF was the last. Very similar to this camera but with a built in flash.

In 2009 Olympus released the Pen E-P1, a digital camera, but we won’t talk about that here 🙂

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