If you have read any of my other posts to this site, I am a big advocate of stretching outside your comfort zone. Most of the time this involves trying out new film stocks (which I still and always will encourage). This can also be achieved by trying different cameras or different formats. This option usually leads to a severe case of G.A.S., Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I, like most photographers, am a victim of G.A.S. But the trouble comes when you have so much to choose from that you have a hard time making a decision.
The way I have slowed down my symptoms is by mostly staying within one system. I have mostly Nikon bodies and lenses. Nothing against Canon or Minolta or any of the other brands. With Nikon being my first film camera, I just came to be most comfortable with that system.
When I started exploring into getting a half-frame camera, I could not find one by Nikon (if someone knows of one, I’d definitely be interested in seeing it). The most popular half-frame cameras that I saw on my search were the Olympus Pens. When I got the Pen FT it was a dream. An SLR that shot half-frame shots and had the option for interchangeable lenses.
It was then through more research that I found out that Olympus made an adapter to use Nikon lenses on the Olympus Pen system. My G.A.S. kicked in and I had to find the adapter. There is an adapter made by a company in China that can be used on the camera but I was in search of the original. After patiently waiting on eBay for one to pop up, I lucked out and finally got one. Now was the time to test it out. And that is what we are going to go over today.
Obviously, I went with the Olympus Pen FT using the Nikon adapter. The question was what lens should I use. I decided to use my trusty 50mm F1.4. On the Pen FT, this lens operates roughly like a 75-80mm lens, so a bit more narrow than I am used to but it worked perfectly for me. I paired it with the Fuji C200 film being an average film speed and went on my way.
Something to note when using the adapter, it will stop down the aperture while in use. So if I wanted to use the internal light meter of the camera, I had to take a reading, compose my shot and then set the aperture. If I used F16, for example, which is the smallest aperture I could use on that lens, then the entire viewfinder would go dark as the aperture was stopped down. It took a while to get used to this style of shooting.
This meant that I had to really take my time to compose my shots and think about my settings. I could still do my drive-by shooting but I had to keep in mind that it would take me an extra bit of time to compose everything. Shooting in diptychs while doing my drive-by shooting while also having to compose this way with the adapter was going to be a challenge but it would be a challenge that I was up for.
I wanted to test this set up under various different conditions. My drive-by shooting style. Still life. And a bit of low light photography since I had that F1.4 to play around with. So I took the camera along with me to work and on walks with my dog around my neighborhood to get the best variety of shots possible.
Eats Shoots and Leaves
Pink and Rosey
Shooting with the Nikon lens on the Pen FT was very interesting. It made me think more about what I was shooting more so than just when I was using the camera with its native lenses. Shooting wide open with the Nikon lens was good in the sense that it allowed me to do a bit more shooting in low light situations. But I found that shooting with this combo made it hard for me to focus sometimes. The stop down situation didn’t help when focusing or framing because the viewfinder went dark. And then when I shot wide open, I found it hard to nail focus some of the time.
I do have to say that by having this adapter, I have a wider variety of shooting options at my disposal. I have a few Nikon lenses that I can now use with this camera. And once you get used to the shooting and metering with the lenses, you are pretty much set.
I think I am going to challenge myself again in the future with this setup. Maybe use a different lens. Maybe even my zoom lens. We will see. For now, I think I will shoot it with the normal lens for a while and then experiment some more.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comment section. Cheers!
The Drive-By Film Shooter