Camera Speed Dating – Olympus Pen F Double Date

Those that know Meghan and I know that we have what appears to be an on going camera acquisition problem. To remedy this but continue to try out ALL of the cameras we have decided to start borrowing cameras from our fellow camera enthusiasts instead of trying to purchase or hoard them all to ourselves. Not all are winners though and some are just easier or more fun to use but you have to shoot with them first to find out! Thus, we decided if we run a roll through every camera we are interested in, not unlike going on a 5 minute date with a bunch of strangers at a singles night, we can quickly see which are worthy of being added to our collection (or put on our list of “must haves.”) Camera speed dating!

Here is most recent camera I (well, WE this time) had the pleasure of a quick double date with the…Olympus Pen F.


A few quick facts about the Olympus Pen F; released in the early 60’s I believe this is one of the few SLR half frame cameras ever made. It manages to be smaller than most other SLR cameras because it has a Porro prism viewfinder and its mirror flips sideways instead of up like most other SLR cameras. It has a high shutter speed of 500.

As I had mentioned in the newsletter, I have decided this is the most under rated street shooting camera ever! It’s physical size is handy, almost unnoticeable it’s so small and its half frame format makes reloading less frequent. It does have a luxurious sounding shutter but I feel shutter noise when street shooting isn’t as critical as it used to be, people now a days are too distracted or don’t remember what a true mechanical shutter even sounds like. With my Olympus Pen F I shot Lomo 400 35-36 and had a beat up 38mm lens that I was lucky enough to be given, however I found most of my pictures slightly out of focus…. now this could be because I was trying my ‘spontaneous shooting-think later’ type method (shutter speed set to 250, aperture f5.6 to 8), the intense smoke that blanketed the city that day, the smaller negative of a half frame or the fact the lens sharpness is minimally “off”. I will borrow an non-haggard 38mm lens and re-shoot and in the mean time I will get Frank to look over my 38mm.  

Here’s Meghan’s two cents about shooting with her Pen F…

Like, Nicole, I enjoyed the size of this camera and the ease of use for street shooting. I have a Pentax 35mm f/3.5 mounted on mine with an adapter however and honestly found like I was having trouble deciding if my subject matter was in focus. I found the viewfinder very dark, which made it difficult to focus quickly. I ended up shooting alot of my roll on infinity for that reason, and though most of those turned out, alot of my mid-field focused shots actually worked out pretty well too. There were definitely a few that I in fact did not focus properly on though. It was a very strange day, one of the smokiest here in the Lower Mainland this summer, and that certainly made for strange shooting down in Gastown. I think I’d like to shoot this camera again on a brighter day and try it with a proper Olympus lens, but I’m not sure this will be a frequent shooter for me. I do love half-frame cameras though and did really enjoy it’s functionality otherwise! I shot Kodak Ultramax 400 135-24 as my test roll. Though funnily enough I thought it was a roll of 36 ex and was saddened to find out for the last half of my roll I wasn’t really taking any photos as the camera did not stop advancing, it just kept on going! Womp, womp. 🙁

Here are Nicole’s images from the double date….



Here are Meghan’s shots….



We do enjoy a good double date though and we may just have to try this one again….




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2 replies on “Camera Speed Dating – Olympus Pen F Double Date

  • Simon Leung

    This was a revolutionary camera at the time when it released in 1966. W. Eugene Smith of Magnum was featured in an Olympus advertisement as I recalled.

    I really enjoyed the write up about this forgotten little gem of a camera.

    Looking forward to the next blog.

    Simon Leung,
    Nikon F2 owner.

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