The Olympus Pen-S is a 35mm half-frame camera that takes 2 photos for every normal-sized every frame, which means you get 72 pictures on a 36 frame roll of film. The lens is a Zuiko 4-element f2.8 with 30mm focal length. Shutter is Bulb, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, and 1/250. F-stops are the standard stops from f2.8 to f22, inclusive.
The camera is tiny – 2.7 inches high, by 4.2 inches wide, by 1.6 inches deep (roughly the size of a typical wallet), it weighs 400 grams. It easily fits in a coat pocket. The orientation of the frame is in portrait format. Shooting landscape requires holding the camera on its side. All controls are manual, no meter. The viewfinder is nice and bright.
To summarise the Pen-S, I have a few pros and cons:
- The Pen-S is a great size. Fits easily in a pocket
- Innocuous. Because of it’s small size, it is great for candids and nobody freaks out when you pop it out for a quick snapshot
- Tiny camera that lets you set f-stop, shutter speed and ISO, and lets you handle focusing.
- Bright viewfinder
- Half-frame gives you 72 shots on a roll – no real worry about counting shots, just shoot
- The aperture is changed by moving a tiny dial surrounding the lens.
- It is hard to not accidentally smudge the lens with your thumb
- Maximum shutter speed is 1/250, which makes it difficult to use with higher iso films. Using the sunny 16 rule, even a slow (in 2020) film like Ektar 100 is shooting at f/16 at 1/125. An ISO 400 has to be shot at 1/250 at f22 (which is maxed out for both) , which means a lot of photos tend to get over-exposed.
- Zone-focussing is difficult if you aren’t used to it, which can result of shots ending up out of focus.
The small fishing village (population: 232) is an hour’s drive south of where I live, and is next to a national park which is full of hiking trails giving access to a variety of coastal views, waterfalls, streams, etc. The fishing primarily consists of lobster, scallops, and clams.
A couple of times a month, I make the following trip:
- Drive to Alma
- Go on a hike
- Have a plate of fried clams and fries (reward for hike)
- Stop at the bakery for peanut butter cookies and a strawberry rhubarb pie (more reward)
- Buy a few cans of craft beer (hey it was a long hike)
- Drive home, while eating the cookies
Alma, with only 250 people, has 4-5 Alma restaurants/take-outs. Sitting on the patio eating your lobster or clams, the wharf and boat that brought the stuff in is often within eyesight. Straight from boat to table.
Alma had two churches. One is in the midst of being torn down, and the other has been converted into a craft beer brewery/pub/coffee shop. The craft beer part is called the Holy Whale and the Buddha Bear (the coffee part). The glass display case in the front of the church/brewery that used to display the day’s homilies and prayers now displays the beer menu. The lovely wooden tables inside the pub are lit by the sun shining through the stained glass of religious scenes. Filling my beer growler feels a bit sacrilegious.
The hiking trails of the nearby national park are gorgeous. The Olympus Pen-S/Ektar 100 is a bad camera/film combination for walking trails. Walking trails, with areas of darkness and intermittent bright light are almost impossible to gauge a proper exposure with a camera without a light meter. An ISO 100 film just isn’t fast enough for trails with a lot of shade. Usually I use a film of ISO 400 or better.
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