Olympus PEN EE


When I was looking through the Blog Stats for Olympuszuiko, I realized that this is the 100th post. Although I’ve been photographing for  many years, it’s only been a year (almost) since I started WRITING about my experiences with photography and with Olympus and other manual cameras. 

My wife has been telling me for a while to purchase a digital SLR and be done with the expense of film development etc, since I can use my beloved Zuiko, Kiron, Minolta and Vivitar lenses on most digital SLRs with the proper adapter. My T-mount lenses can easily adapt as well. Besides, it would also keep me from continuing to buy bits and pieces of equipment – lenses, bodies and other camera paraphernalia.

While that is true, I would definitely miss the feel of my beautiful manual cameras. My Olympus OM-1, OM1n, OM2, OM2n, OM-10 and OM-PC AND my Minolta Dynax 800si, the Ricoh CR-5, the Yashica TL-Super and the heavy Fujicarex II. Besides, if I gave up film completely, what would I do with the fixed lens cameras – in particular the Olympus Trip 35 cameras, the Ricoh 500G and Olympus 35 RC and Yashica Electro GSN rangefinders? To say nothing of the Pen EE half frame. They would end up on a shelf and slowly rot.

Still, progress cannot be denied. I have been looking into purchasing a Digital SLR for a while, and while it would seem natural for me to purchase an Olympus DSLR – perhaps the E-410 or E-510, but I’m not comfortable with the manual Zuiko compatibility issues, since even with the E-series Four-Thirds to OM Zuiko lens adapter, I will not be able to use the manual Zuikos stopped down to f/11 or f/16 which I use for most of daytime photographs. On top of that, my Minolta AF lenses would languish.

A better option for me is the Sony Alpha series cameras either the Alpha 100 or the new Alpha 700, with their full compatibility with all Minolta AF lenses, including my 3rd party Phoenix, Tamron and Sigma AF lenses. I use them quite a lot, especially the Phoenix 28-105mm and I would definitely be lost if I could not use them on any digital camera I ended up buying. I could use all my Zuiko and other Olympus Mount lenses on the Sony Alpha with the Bower adapter. I’ve used the Bower Minolta Maxxum-OM adapter successfuly on my Dynax 800si and have been pleased with the results.

I’m curious about the Sony Alpha 700, when I have a chance to actually try it out, perhaps I’ll be able to make up my mind. I have heard that Sony has fixed the “noise” issues that were a problem at 400 ASA and above and that the camera is much more rugged. I like the “rugged” part. Can’t ask for the digitals to be comparable with my manual cameras, but I’d sure like something that I could take on a hike without being afraid that it’d would die on me.

I’ve enjoyed writing about my cameras and lenses, and my feeble attempts at photography. As I look over the pictures that I have taken over the past year with a critical eye and compare them with photographs that I have made over the past 9-10 years, I realize that I have made progress in some areas and still need to work on several others – most notably, exposure issues, composition and lens selection.

Oh, well.. like the old saying goes – “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I guess it’s the same for photography. One last word.. I get about 200 hits a day, mostly people who are looking for information about a particular camera or lens. I am grateful to all those who stop by and read my blog… and occasionally leave a comment on a post.

Thank you for stopping by.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I found this little camera on eBay a few months ago, and just got around to running a roll through it. It was in generally good condition, even had a tiny 22.5mm UV filter on the Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 lens. The reason I took so long to clean up this camera was the light seals – the Pen EE has a slide-off back cover, not hinged like a traditional camera – so there is a very substantial seal required on the inside of the bottom cover. My curiosity about the camera finally made me give in and get the seals done.

Yoshihisa Maitani designed the Pen EE. Maitani gained fame as the designer of the exquisite Pen F interchangeable lens cameras and the legendary Olympus OM series cameras. The Pen camera dates back to 1959, but the Pen EE is from 1961. Olympus went on to make many more versions of the ‘automatic’ Pen EE cameras all the way into the 1980’s.

There were 2 versions of the first Pen EE, I have the older version with “Olympus” across the front, instead of “Olympus PEN”. The original version also has the leatherette cover instead of the ‘basket weave’ covering of the later model. One more difference – the older Pen EE has a 1/60 second shutter speed while the later basket view Pen EE has 2 shutter speeds – 1/250 for the Auto mode and 1/30 for the Flash setting.

The Pen EE is a Half Frame camera – that means 2 images for each frame of 35mm film. The 35mm format is 24x36mm, so half frame is 24x18mm in vertical format. It’s a small image, but the 28mm Zuiko lens is sharp enough to enable nice quality prints up to 8 x10 inches if used with a tripod, and 5×7 inch prints easily when hand-held. The film ISO range only extends to 200 ASA. The 28mm f/3.5 lens provides great depth of field, so it’s a point and shoot camera.

A fixed 1/60th second shutter speed on my Pen EE. That’s it. It’s the same if you set it on Auto or Flash on the original Pen EE. In the Auto mode, the selenium cell light meter sets the aperture automatically, while if you use the Flash mode, you can set the aperture from f/3.5 to f/22, but still at 1/60 second. That’s tricky.

I wanted to use the Sunny 16 rule with the camera, but the slowest print film available to me is ISO 100. Now the Sunny 16 rules says that for film speed for 100 ISO, the shutter speed will be 1/125 second at f/16 in bright sunny conditions. With the fixed shutter speed of 1/60, I would end up with pictures on the overexposed side by one stop. To compensate I would have to close down the shutter by another stop to f/22 to get an equivalent exposure.

The alternative is to set to f/16 and deal with the overexposure later with digital correction (by increasing shadow). In most cases, this will be fine, since the film has enough latitude to handle some overexposure and still produce a decent image. However, since the best color reproduction usually requires a slight under-exposure, it may still be a little too much.

This also means that to use the Pen EE in manual mode with Sunny f/16, we are limited to 100 speed film or lower. 200 ASA film would overexpose by 2 stops, and while film has a great deal of latitude, that much over-exposure would be difficult to correct. Of course, in shade or in cloudy conditions, the aperture range is more than adequate.

In my case, I tend to overexpose an additional stop in cloudy over cast conditions – instead of closing down the aperture, I was actually opening it up from sheer force of habit because of conditioning with my Ricoh 500G and Olympus OM cameras. Now that I’ve a chance to examine the results, I would say f22 for Sunny conditions, f/16 for slight overcast, and f/11 for shade (f/8 and f/5.6 only if you are really unsure.)

As far as the film development goes, any photo processing lab can handle it since it’s just regular 35mm film processing. My advice is to have them develop and put it on a CD, and make a special note to NOT cut the film into strips. Don’t ask them for prints. Later, you can split the half frame images apart using cropping software. Make one copy of each digital image, and then crop the left side from one copy and the right side from the other copy. You can then save to a CD/Card/flash drive and get it printed like any other digital image. I use Walmart’s one hour service and they do a great job, costs $4.23 and beats sending it a specialty processor out of state.


Pen EE
Pen EE
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Photographed with an Olympus Pen EE (28mm f/3.5) on Fuji Super 100 film


Pen EE Camera #168426
Pen EE Camera #168426

Pen EE pictures photographed with a Panasonic Lumix DMC LC-20 2 megapixel digital camera


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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That’s because I’ve been busy with updating some of the other areas of the site that I meant to add to for a while now. I finally managed to finish the “Classics” section, and added the pictures of my older cameras – the solid Yashica TL Super (with Yashinon 50mm f/1.4), The Yashica Electro 35 GSN and the Yashica Dental Eye with its great big 50mm f/4 ring flash lens.

I also added pictures of the Fujica Fujicarex II and its peculiar interchangeable front elements. That was a lucky find, since I was able to get the 50mm f/4 element with the camera and the seller even had the 80mm f/2.8 and the 35mm f/3.5 front elements. I still need to add the pictures of the Yashikor screw-in lenses for the Electro 35.

In the Olympus camera section, I’ve added pictures of the Olympus PEN EE half frame camera. This is the early version camera – it says Olympus on the front and has the “leather” look leatherette instead of the “basketview” leatherette of the later models.

In the Non-Zuiko 3rd party lenses section, I’ve added pictures of the super telephoto Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 and the Toyo 5 Star 500mm f/8 long tube lenses, the Kitstar 200mm f/3.3 and the Vivitar 70-150mm f/3.8. I need to get some of the lens data in there as well for the Zuikos.

I still need to add pictures of the Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 and the Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm. The Zuiko section has some pictures added as well – the Zuiko 100-200mm f/5 and the Zuiko 100mm f/2.8. Yes, I finally got one. It wasn’t cheap as I would have liked, but it was a good price for a lens in fine condition. In the Minolta area, I have some pictures of the Maxxum 35-105mm lens.

The one area I haven’t gotten around to updating is the Macrophotography section – it looks so bare without any pictures of my equipment. I’ll be adding pictures of the Hoya 52mm screw-in macro lenses, the Vivitar extension tubes, and the Spiratone bellows assembly with the 35mm Macrotar, the 150mm Macrotel and the 75mm flatfield. These are dedicated Macro lenses. Of course, I still need to take some pictures of the Honeywell Repronar equipment. I managed to get the descriptions of all the Macro equipment done though.

Later this winter, when its too cold to do anything else, I’ll work on the Microphotography section and add pictures of my Wolf-Wetzlar and Propper Microscopes, the various Wetzlar, Vickers objectives, eyepieces and the microscope adapter stuff.

That will be a while, though. Fall beckons, clothed in her colorful leafy finery… her siren song fills a photographer’s soul with happiness. I need to be out there taking pictures.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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