Scale Focus

Fixed Perfection? The Olympus PEN EE-2 – Guest Review by Alan Duncan

Olympus PEN EE-2

Olympus has always been one of the trend setters for compact cameras from their Olympus 35 rangefinder, the Trip 35, the XAs and right up to µ[mju:] series. But my current favourite is a  simpler fixed focus,  half frame number that is often overlooked.

Wheels of Commerce ?

London Oct 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Ilford XP2.

If you’ve followed my blog you’ll know I’ve used a shed load of Olympus compacts (I’ve not even listed my sublime XA or the µ[mju:]zoom I once owned) some great and some not quite so. I suspect like me you’ll end up comparing cameras with Olympus models even if you aren’t a fan of them. So it’s not a surprise that an Olympus has been in my camera bag more often than not in recent months – but it’s not a classic like the Trip or my XA. It is a more mundane spec’d PEN EE-2.

The PEN series of half frame cameras arrived in 1959. Olympus realised they could make more compact cameras than conventional full frame numbers and set the craze for half frame cameras which other Japanese manufactures soon followed in the 1960’s. If you’re unfamiliar with the half frame the camera use conventional 35mm film but takes shots with a frame size of 24x18mm (essentially 2 shots per standard frame). Half frame cameras started to die out from the 70’s as full frame compacts got smaller, but the PEN series survived into the 1980’s

Fading Signal

Carlisle 2016. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Kodak Ultramax 400

The series included the PEN F SLR camera often hailed as a classic and would go on to influence Olympus’s current digital CSC cameras. However Olympus also aimed for the snap shot market and developed the PEN E series which used automatic selenium cell metering.

The original PEN EE  when launched in 1961 was arguably ground breaking as one of the first true point and shoots with automatic metering. Our updated EE-2 was launched in 1968. Both share the same 28mm 1:3.5 D.Zuiko 4 element lens (equivalent to ~40mm full frame) but the EE-2 adds a hot shoe, better ISO range and an updated exposure system. This was lifted from their zone focus brother the PEN EES, a camera that was used as the basis of the mighty Olympus Trip 35.

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumbria, 2016. Taken on Olympus PEN-EE2 with Ilford XP2. K2 Filter on camera

This means the EE-2 shares the same styling and auto exposure mechanism as the mighty Trip. At first glance the fact that the cameras have just 2 shutter speeds (1/40 and 1/200 secs) seems quite poor compared to many cameras that launched around the same time with a plethora of speeds. But that’s missing the beauty. Olympus recognised with both fixed focus  and to a lesser extent zone focus cameras, the key is keeping the depth of field as big as possible but avoiding being too small to trigger diffraction. So in bright conditions (>13EV 100) the shutter speed stays locked at 1/200 sec with the aperture widening as light level reduce to about f/8. When light levels fall to around 13EV or below the camera switches to 1/40 sec shutter and an aperture of f/11 (minimising diffraction) . The aperture widens in response to falling light levels from 13 EV100  down.

When light falls below the range of the camera a red flag appears in the viewfinder and the shutter is locked. Just like the Trip you can chance a shot by turning the camera off automatic and setting it to the widest aperture of for flash (f/3.5) and you can exposure lock by half depressing the shutter. Also like the Trip you can shot quasi manually at 1/40 by using the flash setting but bear in mind the meter still limits the maximal opening of the aperture so if you set to f/3.5 and try to shoot in bright light, it won’t open that far. And as you’d expect you don’t need batteries to power it.

Bridging

Mabie Forest, June 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Kodak BW400CN. Camera still holding sharp at median distances despite lower light levels

If you’ve shot a Trip, you’ll know the exposure system works well and with the PEN EE-2 it is no different. If anything it is more important in the fixed focus EE-2 as it preserves depth of field with only a modicum of diffraction (except in very bright light). In good light even despite the small frame size you get sharp images at most distances of its 1.5m to infinity range. Detail does get a bit lost at the extremes when blown up but you’ll still get usable small prints. The camera will perform well enough down to about 10 EV then things get increasingly  more noticeable at the extremes. That said shots at 3-5 metres are still sharp. Obviously if that really bugs you, you can always get a EES or EES-2 but that negates the true point and shoot nature of it.

The frame size means the camera takes shots in portrait format naturally rather than landscape but the viewfinder whilst small is good and comes with the usual markings. The camera also is cable and standard tripod threaded and you have both hotshoe and PC sync options for flash (at 1/40 sec). It’s not without issues though. As well as becoming more limited in low light,  it shares the same quirky door latch mechanism as the trip (you wonder how many have been knackered by folk wrenching the rewind knob off) and lack of a bulb setting.  It does take filters but the odd Olympus 43.5mm size. Build quality is good but expect to have to replace the seals and the same issues that affect Trips apply here (sticky aperture blades etc). As usual with a selenium meter camera, I’d go for one that had a lens cap on – that said mines was a fiver punt on a mislabeled auction on eBay and came without cap.

Blow up

June 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Ilford XP2.

I’ve never had an issue getting lab processing for this and other half-frame cameras I use even in cheap supermarket labs. Image quality despite the smaller frame size is till pretty good thanks to modern film and scanning (it’s not far off APS-C size and about twice the frame size of 110 and as I’ve said you get 72 shots)

Equine movement

Legoland, Windsor. 2015. Taken on Olympus PEN EE-2 with Ilford XP2

The EE-2 should have been replaced by the EE-3 in 1973 which replaced the aperture settings with a flashmatic setting based on a GN 14 flash, but remained in production up to 1977 – I suspect many folk like me prefered the old system. The EE-3 was produced until ’83. The EF which was broadly the same as the EE-2/3 but with built-in flash was the last launched in 1981. The range also featured ill-fated variants for Agfa rapid cartridges as well as easy load versions of the EE & EES. Two scale focus higher end CdS models were also made (EM and EED)

Summary

It is a small, retro, easy  to use  camera which in good conditions produce pretty sharp results and you can get 72 or more shots a roll.  It oozes Olympus’s excellent build quality of this era and has handy features such as a cable point and filter threading. Obviously this ain’t a camera for all circumstances  and it’s shrapness does fade as the light goes down especially at the extremes of the focal range.   Still for a pocket-sized non AF point and shoot camera it is pretty astounding given it’s limitations and an excellent travel camera.

You can find more of my camera review on my own website – austerityphoto.co.uk

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    ErikP
    May 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I flatly refuse to believe that the exposure system was set til limit influence by interference problems from the lens, back in 1959.
    Back in those days this phenomenon wasn’t properly understood.
    Why?
    Because of film, thats why.
    Film resolution back then – and even today – was so low that interference problems wasn’t noticed, it was simply not detected, the only thing noticed was that depth-of-field increased as the lens was stopped down. Loss of sharpness was blamed on problems holding the camera still, simpleas that.

    Theinterference problems was noticed with the advent of high resoluton digital cameras some 10 years ago.

    The very simple Olympus auto-exposure systems was set up that way to cover as wide a range of EV numbers as possible, as simple as possible.
    They got away with it due to the low light sensitiity in the selenum cells used, assoon as the changed to CDS meters we had a whole different ballgame, and much more elaborate exposure systems.

    • Reply
      Alan Duncan
      May 16, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Interesting thoughts and in honesty without interviewing the design team from Olympus we’ll never know and yes the main point is to cover as wide a range of EV settings as possible – but diffraction was an understood phenomenon well before the 1950’s and arguably well before the invention of the camera (just google Rayleigh criterion and/or Airy Patterns for starters). Charles Johnson on his blog can recall reading about diffraction in Kingslakes seminal 1951 Lenses in Photography: The Practical Guide to Optics for Photographers although it’s only his later 1989 A History of the Photographic Lens that can be viewed on line (and heck it mentions diffraction too). The development of diffraction limiting lens predate the rise of digital cameras too ((Leica for example are keen to point out their 1993 APO-TELYT-R 280 mm f/4 is one of the most diffraction limited lenses on the planet). The digital issue is intensified not directly due to sensor size but more the grid arrangement on the sensor being vulnerable to Airy Circle overlap (okay that’s worse with higher density sensors so resolution does matter but in an indirect way)

      • Reply
        ErikP
        May 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm

        Since this will inevitable turn into a pissing contest:
        All you writeand all your argument is an after-the-fact theory.
        These cameras was designed first and foremost to squeese out 72 half-frame slides or id lucky 76 frames, out of a common 36 exposure leica film.
        Even if slide films was way ahead of negative films and their fast fading copies in 1959, have you ever checked the quality of the films available around 1960?
        How old are you, was you THERE at the time?

        I have slide films from ca 1963, and kodacolor negative films still in my posession from the same time era. There can be no question at all thet resolution was “diffraction limited” with the films avaialable at the time. Try going to 12 – 15 ASA high resolution films you say? Well the inherent high contrast does not work well with the simplistic exposure system in this camera….

        The film was the limiting factor. The film is still the limiting factor, except the type of modern high resolution films you seem to have chosen to show here.
        I have slides exposed by a similar, simple half-frame, a Ricoh half, exposed in the north sea, onboard platforms from 1979, Ektachrome.
        Also an excellent little camera, within its limitations. In failing light, difficult lightning conditions and extreme, against the light situations against massive electric lights, neither exposure nor resolution (in the film) was much to brag of…

        Your theory cannot be proven, nor easily disproven, that is the only thing you are correct of here. But your pictures are impressive, not much difrraction there!

        • Reply
          Alan Duncan
          May 16, 2016 at 10:53 pm

          Not looking for an argument – as I’ve said I think your comment about the EV range is spot on and indeed your comments about 50’s and early 60’s film tech are valid (it’s not my area really but my sense is the next big jump was the around the start of the 70’s and given I don’t date before then I’m not really in a place to comment). I just get rankled about the diffraction thing being only a digital issue (probably too as it was part of my CSYS Physics project back in the 1980’s at school). Whether the PEN and Trip 35 metering system 1/200 to 1/40 step is geared to avoid diffraction is conjecture abet a mentioned one but I agree no one knows for certain

      • Reply
        Erik Prestmo
        May 16, 2016 at 10:12 pm

        Alan have you ever tried to scan 1960’s Kodacolor films at full resolution? Or Agfacolor, Orwo or Peruchrome?
        I have, just recentli over tha past month. Enough said.
        Dysmal graininess, dysmal sharpness og first and foremost, color in the films are fading in spots, since the film is not stable.
        So no, even a simple achromat lens was limited by the FILM, not optical laws, that is for 4×4 or 6×6 negatives, 35mm demanded anastigmats a fact quickly recognisedby camera manufacturers in the 1930’s, but was stilllimited by the dysmal films available.

        • Reply
          Erik Prestmo
          May 17, 2016 at 10:32 am

          The point here is hyperfocal distance. Because in a fixed focus lens, only one distance is sharp, will focus to a point, every other distance “focus” is a circle of confusion, and more confused the farther away from the point of focus.
          Now all arguments about diffraction only applies to the point of focus set by the factory, everything else is hidden in the circle of confusion, and the factory operates with what the calls an acceptable circle of confusion.

          I’ve spent a few minutes looking this up on wikipedia and plugged in the numbers. Given the films available back in 1959, I think its optimistic to think Olympus (or any other manufacturer of half-format cameras) took the viewing distance fully into account and applied a circle of confusion of 0.017mm as suggested in the wiki article, I think they set the circle of confusion at the more normal 0.029mm which was used to calculate depth of field in hi quality cameras (SLRs) in later years. It might even be that they used a circle of confusion more like that was used in the 1930’s by simple camera manufacturers, 0,050mm.

          Obviously what you use as a base defines the calculation.

          For a 0,029mm circle of confusion the hyperfocal distance (the only distance the lens will focus to a point) varies with the aperture chosen and is :

          f:5,6 = 4,86m that means everything looks reasonably sharp from 2,43m to infinity, if one accept unsharpness to 0,029mm.
          f:8 = 3,41m that means everything looks reasonably sharp from 1,70m to infinity, if one accept unsharpness to 0,029mm.
          f:11 = 2,49m that means everything looks reasonably sharp from 1,25m to infinity, if one accept unsharpness to 0,029mm.

          I dont know at which point Olympus fixed the focus for these simple little cameras, but what governs “sharpness” is acceptable circle of confusion, and at some point when the lens opens up, there will be unsharpness at the closer ranges, and that unsharpness has nothing whatsoever to do with diffraction, au contrarire, but of lack of means to adjust focus distance.

          Now, since we suspect focus distance to be set somewhere between 3 meter and 2,5 meter, the entire SYSTEM is interesting. IT will be sharp at one point only, but this is glossed over, to appear reasonably sharp by two more factors in the system, the film, which has a very limited ability to resolve detail in such a small negative, and the variance in the aperture, according to the lightning conditions.

          Films back then was able to resolve ca 50 – 60 lines pr mm, that is 0.017mm circle of confusion.
          If the lens is set to accept a circle of confusion of 0.029mm from infinity to half the hyperfocal distance, this will beseen as “sharp” with the film, since it can resolve that.

          What does this translate to in this days world?

          0,017mm translates to 59 lines pr mm, or a resolution of 1062×1416 for a 18x24mm negative, or ca 1 503 792 image dots, or 1,4 “mpx” if you like. This was what the film was able to “see”.

          0,029mm translates to ca 35 lines pr mm, or a resolution of 630×840 for a 18x24mm negative, or ca 529 200 image dots, or ca 0,5 mpx if you like. This is what the lens was set to see, since the designers gave up the ability to focus the lens prescisely.

          If you think about it this translates really well with everyday experience with half-frame cameras, their image detail is usually limited, far less than with fill frame 24x36mm images.

          And even if diffraction is part of the rather involved mathematics that is at work, it has no bearing here, the engineers gave that up, when the went for fixed focus, or even scale focusing as in the Trip 35, and ditched a proper Leica rangefinder.

          Hyperfocal distance is about confusion, acceptable circle of confusion, and represents a shortcut, which frees any argument from advanced stuff like diffraction, which only was brought to the attention to ordinary amateurs like me, with the advent of digital cameras and super-resulution in modern digital cameras, which far outshines anything that was attainable with 35mmfilm and simple cameras.

          • Alan Duncan
            May 17, 2016 at 7:23 pm

            Erik that’s a good summary of hyperfocal distance but diffraction still mattered even then. In my earlier response I mentioned Rudolph Kingslake 1951 book Optics in Photography. Kingslake was a pretty big cheese in the world of optics in the 20th century – both academically and in the camera industry (he designed lens for Kodak). The book was intended for the likes of you and I. You can find the book in part on Google books and luckily that part includes his discussion on “Diffraction blurring at very low apertures” (pg 62-63). In it he gives an example of the effect on a 2 inch lens (near enough 50mm in new money) taking a shot of brickwork at 50ft (~15m) and how at a very small aperture (f/64) the cement between the bricks would be obliterated by diffraction spot of 19mm. Okay that not a realistic aperture here but he makes the point that even at f/16 the diffraction spot will be 0.2mm much bigger than the circle of confusion effect you give in your example. The effect would be worse on the PEN with a smaller 28mm lens.

            I’m not really looking for an argument here and I’m in no way knowledgeable about 1950s film emulsions. Equally you’re right my & others views on the f/11 step down on the Olympus are pure conjecture (and arguably more easily criticised on the fact that the PEN will stop down to f/22 in very bright conditions with 400 ISO film) but I guess I’m trying to make the point that some years before the PEN arrived Kingslake was talking about diffraction issues in a book aimed at the likes of you and and I and as he describes it was influencing lens design well before PEN EE arrived

          • Blinx
            May 17, 2016 at 9:50 pm

            I think you may be mistaken. Films in the 1950s and 1960s were fully capable of high resolution that is indistinguishable from modern emulsions. That is not to say there hasn’t been progress, especially in colour print film and grain size in faster films, but a look at any black and white photograph of the period will illustrate that the optical quality of the lens is infinitely more important than any technological advances in film in the intervening years.

            On the subject of sharpness, an image is dependent on the lens formula, and the aperture used. All lenses exhibit image circles of increasing size the further they are from the focal node, but those limitations have been understood since photography’s earliest days. What denotes acceptable depends on a number of variables, but primarily image size and viewing distance. The EE-2 is a middling kind of camera optically, with an aperture chosen to render an image sharply at the kind of print sizes then popular, which was usually 7 x 5″ or less, and maxed out at 10 x 8″. At those sizes the circles of confusion are not readily apparent and diffaction is not intrusive.

            Apertures of around f9 to f11 were standard in fixed focal length point and shoot cameras, but are also the apertures of choice for most street photographers using varifocal lenses at hyperfocal distances, who aim for as large a depth of field as possible before optical aberrations become obvious. I believe Olympus were adopting standard and well-worn optical practices in their half frame cameras, and the main innovation was in overall body size. Printed or projected at half the size of a 35mm negative or slide, the EE-2 will be as sharp as most 35mm cameras in its class. Similarly, a Pen F SLR will be the equal of 35mm SLRs at 50% magnification.

  • Reply
    Blinx
    May 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    A lovely little camera, though miniaturisation of full frame 35mm compacts removed most of the half frame’s purpose. I have a soft spot for fixed focus cameras, they’re very quick! The half frame camera’s forte was transparencies. The carousel shot is lovely.

    • Reply
      Alan Duncan
      May 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Thank you. The speed point is worth highlighting – there is no quicker camera than a fixed focus and the PEN E series represents a key step for true point and shoot cameras that wouldn’t be advanced until the Konica C35 AF arrived in the late seventies.

  • Reply
    Dallas Dina
    May 16, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    my very first camera,
    love this camera…love olympus!
    very interesting post, awesome photos. thank you. 🙂

  • Reply
    Erik Prestmo
    May 17, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Alan, if you care to read up on diffraction on wiki, you’ll notice in the discussion that this wasn’t properly understood until 1995, maybe not even today, and that late breakthroughs had to do with a NEED to understand the phenomenon : in the production of microchips and memory chips, where diffraction problems limited the space possible between electric conductors.

    Improperly understood in the fifties, those involved with practical lens design and practical camer design usually drew the conclusion that diffraction did not matter, until at f:32 and smaller, and that was probably the cause for limiting apertures to f.22 and later f.16, going with high shutter speeds to secure exposure in bright sunlight instead.

    So your argument is pure speculation, and cannot be verified. Look at the whole camera as a simple solution to a complex question instead.

    Blinx: print sizes was 4 by 6 as a standard. But due to japanese economy, these half frames wasn’t really made for print films, they where designed for slide films where they offered great economy, as long as the finishing houses offered “free” side mounts for up to 72 slides….
    Paying for 72 prints on the other hand probably would kill the average japanese workers economy at the time, they’d lost a war and their cities had been incinerated…..

    And,,, a Pen F SLRs image is not 50%, its 70% 70% distance measure, which is what concerns us here. 70% down, 140% up thats why a 28mm lens in an EE 2 is equal to about a 40mm lens in a Leica.

    • Reply
      Blinx
      May 18, 2016 at 8:20 am

      My position is stated above, Erik. Enprint sizes varied, but 5 x 7″ – or supersize as they were often called – was a machine print option. Enthusiasts with access to a darkroom could print any size they cared for, and with suitably slow film and scrupulous development technique large prints were possible, but I don’t think Olympus intended half frame as a large print format, and as you say slides were a popular option at the time.

      Half frame is what it says, half the size of a 35mm negative, so a half frame 8 x 5″ print will resemble exactly half a 10 x 8″ 35mm photograph in grain structure and sharpness. Focal length standards vary with format, obviously, and I’m assuming an equivalent lens design for comparison. Remember, 35mm is a miniature format, so half frame is sub-miniature. However if you look at Flickr’s half frame sites, the quality of the best images shows it to be a useable format, so long as the highest quality equipment is used.

      • Reply
        Erik Prestmo
        May 18, 2016 at 8:47 am

        “blinx” how old are you? I don’t think you was around when these cameras was designed, nor when they sold.
        Supersize prints was an option – towards the end of film sales and the print finishing business. But not in Japan in the late 1950’s.
        In fact print finishing business as we once knew it (it is as good as dead in this country) hardly existed, especially as far as color prints goes.

        And standard sizes? Well, when I started in the darkroom, the common print sizes with the local photographer on the corner was 6x9cm, contact copies from 120 film 8 on, 6x9cm, you had to order special for “enlargements”.
        The stadard enlargement sise, blackandwhite was 9×12, which was less than 4×6″, around 3,5×4,75. But this was not som important, these cameras was designed for half-frame slides, and when shown on a screen people just accepted grain, unsharpness and error of exposure, as long as some “likeness” was to be seen on the screen.

        Now onto your halfframe misunderstandings.

        Halfframe means with the lenses that we operate by square of 2, when comparing lenses to the international standard,.

        A 35mm lens compares to a full frame 50mm lens, roughly
        A 28mm lens compares to a full frame 40mm lens roughly

        If they compared to what you stated originally you’d have a quarter-frame, or a pocket instamatic frame, roughly

        Interestingly ypu can compare this to todays digital cameras:

        APS-C is roughly a half-frame format and the lense lengths compares to Olympus Pen FT lenses….
        m4/3 is roughly a quarter.frame and the lense lengths compares to Pentax Auto 110 lenses roughly
        I have both and uses them from time to time, and last summer’s outing with the Pen FT made it painfully clear that half-frame negatives leaves a lot to de desired in the sharpness department, compared to pictures made at the same time with a bog standard Canon EOS camera, even when usinf the famous Olympus Pen Lenses…..

    • Reply
      Carl
      May 31, 2016 at 11:20 am

      I just read your posts andwhatever you state about print sizes and old film stocks, you are completely on the wrong track when you assume that in the 50s, 60s or even later they did not understand or know about diffraction. There was no “need to understand” diffraction when high resolution films/sensors came up because diffraction is NOT purely limited to photography and image taking but strictly a physical phenomenon that appears with all kinds of waves in all kinds of applications. Applied to EM waves such as visible light it is described and explained by quantum mechanics which has been put together (by probably the greatest minds of the history of humankind) leading to the Solvay Conference in Copenhagen in 1927 (!). Lord Rayleigh who defined the Rayleight criterion for image resoltion limited by diffraction (mentioned in on of the replies here) died in 1919. Now all of that dealt with and led to understanding, even hundreds of years before these events took place people observed diffraction and while they could not explain it yet it was something they were well aware of.

  • Reply
    Blinx
    May 18, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Plenty old enough to remember half frame cameras, Erik!

    Some of your points regarding focal lengths of different film formats I haven’t raised, and are irrelevant to Alan’s discussion. By the 1960s the colour print boom was in full swing, although it was still comparatively expensive compared to black and white photography. This was soon to be addressed by the 126 format (roughly square 35mm), and ultimately 110 (16mm) as well as new, finer grained emulsions like Kodacolor. Standard focal lengths in these formats is not the point, which seems to centre around the vexed subject of diffraction for some reason.

    You appear to be under the misapprehension that Olympus in particular and photographic manufacturers as a whole didn’t understand elementary light bending potential at small apertures, which is an astonishing claim as the physics had been written up in standard optical text books for a century. Camera makers saw the potential in the point and shoot market and had done since the Box Brownie. This meant choosing an aperture that allowed the deepest focal range for fixed focus cameras, for the available film speeds – and consequently shutter speeds – in a given film format. Olympus were one of the forerunners in popularising non-standard 35mm film framing as a way of extracting more than 36 frames from what was relatively expensive film. That was the sole motive for half frame.

    The photo fashions and technology of the C20th are shown in Ilford’s timeline: http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Ilford/Chronology.html

    • Reply
      Alan Duncan
      May 18, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Erik

      At the end of the day whether you think it was intended or not it is fortuitous that the PEN steps down at f/11 not smaller apertures for diffraction reasons. Irrespective of how you feel the science has evolved since the 50s and 60s small aperture diffraction was known about and taken into account by lens designers and is not just an issue of the last decade which is the point that I object to. As Kingslake described in the book I referenced before from 1951 a whole decade before the PEN EE, the preference for 2inch (~50mm) lenses was a minimum aperture of f/16 because of this (this book was intended for the public not lens designers so would not be cutting edge) and he highlights the problem would be worse for shorter lenses so it is a bit disingenuous to say they really weren’t too knowledgeable about it (a hell of a lot of the science like Rayleigh criterion come from much earlier). Of course the science has moved on but a lot is to do with issues related to sensors.

  • Reply
    Christos Theofilogiannakos
    May 18, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Who would think that such a simple camera would spark such a detailed technical discussion on optics and film resolution! I’ve had both the EE-2 and the EE-3 models and liked them a lot, for some reason the EE-2 produced sharper pictures, perhaps my EE-3 was a lemon? I let both of them go as a nice Pen-F with a 1.4/40 Zuiko was given to me, only to become irrepairably damaged a couple of months later. I also had the original Pen-S which had a very good lens and full manual exposure, but it too left the nest as I became less and less patient with 36 (72)-frame rolls that seemed to take forever to finish and using 24 (48)-frame rolls helped only marginally. There is a constant theme of comparing the EE-2 with the Trip 35 throughout the review, but I think that the EE-S / EE-S2 models with zone focusing are a closer equivalent to the Trip. The carousel shot is simply excellent.

    • Reply
      Alan Duncan
      May 18, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Know exactly what you mean with the 72 shots taking for ever. Half frame cameras are a double edged sword that way – you start out appreciating the twice as many shots for the same cost but by no. 46 you’re just itching the to get the roll out. I literally found myself starting at my FED Mikron the other day muttering please let it stop !

      The EE to Trip comparison fall mainly around the exposure system but you are right the EES is a more correct comparison (even Olympus admit the Trip was based on the EES)

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    May 19, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Thanks Alan for a thorough and interesting review.

  • Reply
    Carl Georg
    August 27, 2016 at 1:05 am

    insightful & enlightening.

  • Reply
    Jaco van Lith
    November 8, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    What a CRAZY stories people are writing on photoraphy, cameras and films. Cobblers stick to your last, please!
    Is this the site for EVERY NARCIST WITH A CAMERA? Everybody can buy a camera, just a few can photograph.
    And who will write the story on photography? Hardly anybody has the skills and knowledge.
    Somebody is claiming that 15 ISO emulsion are no good. In the past 15 ASA ( 14 DIN) was a medium speed and
    125 ASA was a high sensitive film. Simon and Garfukel sung Kodachrome. The 25 ASA Kodachrome film , the best film ever made.
    Kodak Pan-X, Ilford Pan F, Orwo NP10, Agafa IF , Adox KB14 etc are “low” speed 15 ISO films with high quality.
    A lot of nonsense is written about the type of films and on developing of films. Like “low speed film has a high contrast and high speed film has a low contrast”. “Ortho film has high contrast and is only suitable for graphic application”. “Reversal films are slide films”. Etc.
    The most shocking story on photographic emulsions was told by several Dutch photographers to me in
    The Netherlands in 1965. Some photographers claimed that the bromid printingpapar of the Hungarian brand of
    FORTE had a shortage of silver in the emulsion. Having compared Forte paper to ten other brands like Agfa, Ilford, Gevaert, Ferrania, Orwo, Kodak, Argenta etc.; the shock was enormous. The firm of Ilford noted that the negatives printed on Forte paper were the best. ( I made the Forte print myself, the rest was done by professional labs).
    It was a great pleasure for me to inform mrs. Albers the director of the the photoshop of Foka in Rotterdam in The Netherlands, which was the import company of Forte photographic paper,: Forte photgraphic paper is the best.
    Panchromatic 3200 ISO films were quite normal in 1990. Mind the polar expedition to the South Pole in 1913; the photographic glassplates at the South Pole had a sensetivity of 7 ISO. The negatives had a normal contrast, though the conditions were extreme difficult. The temperature was low. The sunlight was very bright with the reflection of the snow on the ground.
    A hundred years ago there was much more craftmanship than today. The whole internet is polluted by silly stories of so called wise pros and amateurs. who had never seen a Kodak Jobsheet.
    There is so much quality in an old 7 ISO negative, that enlargements of 2 x 3 m can be made today.

    • Reply
      Alan Duncan
      November 9, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Goodness this is the post that keeps on giving !! The joy of the internet is folk get to express their views Jaco hopefully in constructive discussion – much of the comments here disappeared off into the history of optics science. I’m not quite sure what your critique is re films are. The original post didn’t really discuss and whilst there is a discussion of vintage Film stock most of it centred on colour films not B&W, where the development of better layer technologies in the last quarter of the 20th century did have an impact and certainly Film speeds dramatically altered between the early 1960s and 70s for colour. Degradation is more marked with colour stock which probably explains some comments about poor scanning of old images. Not sure anyone mentioned contrast etc here but your comments are valid. I like shooting C-41 B&W as it is virtually grain free to the naked eye if shot right (esp BW400CN whom Kodak marketed on this)

  • Reply
    Zuiko
    March 8, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    I bought this beautiful camera back in the 70s and mostly used it to shoot slides. It took 75 pictures on a 36 exposure film, so was very economical. It always produced perfectly exposed and sharp beautiful pictures., never missed a shot because you couldn’t get under-exposed or over-exposed pictures because the shutter button would lock if the light was not right.
    Another advantage was that you did not have to worry about batteries because the automatic exposure meter was powered by solar cells. In a way it was more advanced than today’s digital cameras which eat up batteries fast.
    It was still working perferctly 30 years later when I gave it to a friend who was amazed that such a small and beautiful camera could shoot 75 pictures on a 35mm film with perfect precision.
    I always carried it on me because it was so small and it never let me down. They don’t make cameras like that any more, certainly not at that price.

  • Reply
    Jorge Rebello
    September 9, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    WOW !!! Reading all in this post kept me from doing any other thing ! (and I was enjoying putting my Instamatics able to power flashcubes again…) Thanks to everyone, really contributing here, for turning a masterful presentation into a masterful class ! Oh, I love my EE-2, which is my “official” Pen, other than the FT’s. Bought mine for the price of a six-pack, absolutely mint, with leather ready-case and UV filter, all original. And, with the help of a self-reconditioned adaptor, just fired some shots using flashcubes on it. Thank you guys ! Cheers from Rio, Brazil !

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