Olympus Pen ft

Today we’re taking a good look at another camera that was on my “Must Buy” list. I found this camera around February 2017 and I just had to get it. I always loved the idea of using a half frame camera, however I usually found that most of the ones on the market were aimed at amateur photographers or tourists that are only concerned with getting the most images out of a roll of film, commonly sacrificing the ability to control your image making process.

This camera was made by Olympus between 1967 and 1970 it shared all the same features as the much revered Pen F, but it also boasted an internal light meter. This was invaluable when shooting, as it meant you could rely on through-the-lens metering without having to rely on – and carry – an external light meter (which… I do anyway. Shut up)

Aesthetically speaking, the camera is a beautiful object. The lines and shape of it work so well, and the black finish helps it to blend into the background while shooting, yet stand out like a statement piece on a shelf. The design is very fast acting and doesn’t slow you down as a photographer. The film advance lever is a single stroke action compared to the double stroke on the original Pen F. It features a self timer stylishly hidden almost as a design motif (took me a week to figure that out).

The novelty of getting so many images out of a roll of film is both a blessing and a curse. Having so many exposures on one film is great for a holiday or trip. But having the same film in the camera when the weather or lighting changes dramatically, knowing you still have over 50 exposures left, can be tedious to say the least.

Being a half-frame SLR leads to some interesting design features that really shape the way you make images. Holding the camera in the traditional “landscape” position will lead to you composing and shooting in a “portrait” orientation. This naturally leads to you thinking about how images look in a more unconventional manner than usual. I’ve found that I use this camera a lot for events work and street photography. Its compact size and its great array of lenses makes it perfect as a sub-compact SLR.

If you ever get a chance to try one out, then I urge you to take it. This camera has been a daily carry for me for months on end. It’s such a nice surprise to finally see these images after waiting so long to finish a film. One roll of film lasted me 4 months and 3 countries.

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