The Olympus PEN EES-2

After buying the Pentax auto 110 super, I was infected with collection fever. On the way to work I discovered an Olympus PEN EES-2. Really small, with a quite flashy selenium light meter and for 1.900 HUF (at this time roughly 8 €) a real bargain. But why reached the exposure counter to 72?  The answer: half frame. In the 60s, both cameras and films were quite expensive. By splitting the negative in two half frames, at least the price for the film was already lowered by 50% and the camera herself was one of the first “cheap” cameras built in Japan.  The PEN family was built from 1959 till the 80s in many different variations, the most famous is the PEN F, the only half frame SLR ever built.

About the camera: The camera uses normal 35mm film but shoots in half frame. When hold in “normal”, it shoots in portrait, when hold upright, it shoots landscape. Exposure is measured by the selen light meter, which needs no battery. Although it is often reported that those selenium-meters age and therefore stop measuring proper, mine all work fine.

Taking pictures: The camera works fully automatic: just select the right film speed (between 25  and 400 ISO) the aperture ( F 2.8 – F 22) and shutter speed ( 1/40 or 1/200) are selected by camera in automatic “A” mode. In situations with insufficient light, the shutter blocks and a red indicator is shown in the viewfinder. to focus, guess and set the right distance with the “portrait – couple – group – mountain” symbols. the distances are equal to 1.0m – 1.5m – 3m – ∞, in bright light with a 200 film you should be always in focus with the “group” setting. Minimal focus is at 0.90m, left on the “portrait” setting. In low light, attach a flash (pc or hotshoe) and select a proper aperture.

Brand Olympus
Camera PEN EES-2
Year built 1968 (?), built from 1968 to 1971
Serial number 2001636
Lens D. Zuiko 1:2,8 f = 30 mm (equals 45mm on full-frame)
Shutter Automatic
Film format 135 film, shots half frame 18×24 
Special features Half frame
Manufactured by Olympus Optical Co. Ltd., Tokio, Japan
Date of purchase 10.2009
Price 1.900 HUF/ca. 8 €
Place of purchase Soós Fotó Budapest

Tips&Tricks: The shutter lock mentioned above is sometimes mistaken as a broken camera. To test if it works simply set the highest film speed 400, choose the “A” setting, direct the camera towards light and release. If it works, fine. Now select a lower film speed, fully cover the selenium meter and try to realse the shutter again. It should block now and the little red indicator should show up.
After some years, the aperture blades can get sticky and not open / close in the proper way anymore. this can be fixed with some lighter fluid.
While doing this, you might loose the right focus setting, but this is easy to fix as well.

Film purchase & processing: I prefer 200 ISO, not too grainy and with good light sensitivity. You may use filmspeeds between 25  and 400 ISO. For the first test, I suggest films with 24 exposures as it might take really long to use the 72 pictures you get out of a 36 roll. Processing can be fun: every laboratory accepts the film, but the prints can be one per print or two pictures on one.

Useful Links: (The PEN family) (Technical Specification) (Manual) (Repair manual) (nice review on Lomography)

My pictures on Flickr
The PEN EE Flickr group


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