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Adventures in Half Frame Part 1 – The Olympus Pen EE-2 – Guest Post by Anil Mistry

I take a LOT of pictures… I usually have about 7 cameras on the go- from medium format to tiny point and shoots, all full of different types of film – and, as always, I forget what stock I’ve put in what camera, because I’m crap at making proper notes as I go along.

Every day I take a different one with me on my travels to work / shop / pub and every few weeks I get all the finished rolls together and send them off for developing and scanning, so that I can have that warm exciting feeling of anticipation, waiting for pictures to arrive back at some point (or “Film Christmas” as I call it.)

The search for another way

I’m not a precious photographer, enjoying experimentation as I go along – but this approach of shooting from the hip tends to get expensive rather quickly. Developing and scanning adds up and before you know it,  you realise that you’ve spent that money set aside for whisky or records. Which simply won’t do.

The solution? Shoot less, or shoot more for the same amount of money. The former isn’t an option, but the latter? …hmmm…

…This thought led me down a little side alley of exploration into the world of half frame photography.

I was always fascinated by the Olympus Pen – as a creative director who loves pretty things, that big gothic “F” on the front was way too beautiful for me to ignore, and my mouse pointer hovered over the BUY button on eBay way too many times for comfort- but the cost was too high for me to jump into another (very beautiful) system so after a bit of research I decided to dip my toe instead of my usual expensive and regret filled dive bomb off the top board- and went for a simpler option: The Olympus Pen EE2.

Up close with the Pen. Dead simple. Note the beautiful shot counter dial on the right hand of the top plate..

The Olympus Pen EE2

A couple of weeks after ordering one from Japan off Ebay, it arrived, with obligatory origami bird and sachet of soup type thing (does anyone ever actually make the soup?) from a highly grateful camera vendor somewhere on the other side of the world. So I whacked a roll in and got shot-happy.

My thoughts were as follows:

  • It’s a gorgeous object. Compact and solid and really, really easy to use.
  • It’s essentially an Olympus Trip 35 but in a half frame flavour.
  • I love the portrait format of the viewfinder, something that I also like about my Fuji GA645i.
  • It forces you to frame differently, and the dial-style shot counter is beautiful, making you revel in the fact that you have 72- count ‘em- shots available from your roll of 36.
  • It has a nice wide 28mm f3.5 Zuiko lens, which makes it very easy to frame and shoot.
  • Having this number of shots frees your mind up and encourages you to be a little more snap happy, shooting that lamp-post that you never bother with on your way to work when you’re carrying an SLR.


Here are some shots taken with The Olympus Pen EE2 and Fuji Neopan 400

And a few more using Agfa Vista 200 (sadly no longer available from Poundland)

The shots have a lovely quality- slightly grainier (due to the fact that they come from a smaller negative). The automatic aperture of the camera ensures that there’s always an element of not knowing if your focus will be bang on. But, I like this- It makes for naturally experimental pictures – almost like having a film-based sketch book with me…

To be continued in part 2, the Canon Multi-Tele coming tomorrow …

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  • Reply
    Michael Kay
    September 9, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Have you considered using a finer grained film, like Ilford Delta 100. I like half frame but this helps control the grain?

  • Reply
    Anil Mistry
    September 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Hi Michael- yes, I did – read part two of the piece and you’ll see that I shoot with Ektar 100 and a forced flash which just looks ace! Pretty much no grain to be seen at all . With the pen EE, I’ve embraced its restrictions and shoot more black and white and deliberately grainy which has a lovely look of its own – especially in half frame where the grain is magnified. I’m going to try pushing bw film to get it more contrasty- I think this will look ace on the Pen EE

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