5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Nikkor 50mm F1.4 on the Olympus Pen-FT – By Tiffany Perez

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.

The Gear

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.

The Method

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.

The Target

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.

Shots Fired

Eats Shoots and Leaves

Pink and Rosey

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Nightly Walks

Family Cars

Sleepy Captures

Conclusion

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.

You can see my other posts here on 35mmc or visit my Instagram to see more of my work.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comment section. Cheers!

Tiffany Perez
The Drive-By Film Shooter

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9 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    thorsten wulff
    September 12, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Well Tiffany, that is a sweet combination. When I started out with photography every Nikon came bundled with this lens, like today they give you a plastic 18-55 as a kit. Back then a 24ƒ2,8 was my standard lens, with a 105 on a second body. If you jump at people on the street that gives you more wriggle room. I like your approach quite much, its almost a bit Eggleston in that split frames of yours.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Tiffany Perez
      September 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      Thank you so much for the compliment. I have been looking into getting a 24mm or even the 20 to test out my luck with a wider setup. I have a 35 which is very versatile but never hurts to explore. Thanks again for reading and thanks for the comment.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Bernhard
    September 12, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Tiffany,

    nice experiment.

    Regards Bernhard

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Tiffany Perez
      September 12, 2019 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you Bernhard

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Christopher Emerick
    September 12, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    I use the 50 1.4AI on my d700 and it’s easily one of my favorite lenses. I absolutely love the character of it wide open, even the vignetting is nice and gooey

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Tiffany Perez
      September 12, 2019 at 8:56 pm

      My go to lens. Thanks for your comment and for reading!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Roy Nash
    September 12, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Sounds like you were more than a bit compromised by the set up you used. The main reason for my comment however is to let you know that half-frame Nikons were made. See : https://www.cameraquest.com/nffm2half.htm As well as the FM2s I understand some F3s were also made. Like all special versions of 35mm cameras they are rare and difficult to find. I am hoping to find a half-frame Pentax. They were made but the only one I ever saw was well beyond my pocket. Good luck. 🐘🐘🐘

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Christopher Emerick
    September 13, 2019 at 3:30 am

    This is my absolute favorite lens. I shoot it on my D700 and it’s perfect down to the vignetting wife open

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick Abe
    September 13, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    I recall seeing the Nikon S3M half frame rangefinder of long ago, but a routine Google! search turned this up”
    https://www.cameraquest.com/nffm2half.htm
    The article mentions that it was a Norwegian Police special order, and “extreme rarity.”

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