Olympus Pen EES-2: A Camera Lost in the Shadow of Greatness

6

The Olympus Pen EES-2 is the predecessor of the Olympus Trip 35. It is almost identical to the Trip 35, but it is a half-frame camera, which doomed it to fall out of favor with enthusiasts.

I had been looking for an Olympus Pen EES-2 for a long time. I finally found one at a good price and it looked clean. When it arrived, I was disappointed because I found that it was suffering from the dreaded “No-Red-Flag” syndrom. I looked online for instruction on repairing this camera and I found a few resources. I decided to disassemble the lens just enough to apply naphtha to the shutter leafs to work them free. It worked! I also had to lubricate several of the plates to which the capture needle and the red flag are attached. In the end, I got it working, and I’m very happy with this camera. If you decide to buy this camera, but you don’t want to deal with repairing it make sure to ask if the red flag show up in low light. This camera requires no batteries, so this is a very easy thing for the seller to test.

Background

The Pen EES-2 is a half-frame camera. Many people don’t know that it is the predecessor to the more well-known Olympus Trip 35. The Pen EES-2 was released before the Trip 35. It uses exactly the same autoexposure system and a very similar lens.. Both cameras use a very clever “trap-needle” autoexposure system that automatically chooses between shutter speeds of 1/200” or 1/40” and apertures of 2.8 to 22. You can adjust the selenium meter for film speeds from 25 to 400 ASA which makes both cameras perfect for shooting redscaled film. Both cameras use around-the-lens metering which automatically compensates for filters. The Trip 35 has a 40mm lens which is one of my favorite focal lengths. This makes it a slightly wide-angle camera, but just barely. The Pen EES-2 has a 30mm lens, but being a half-frame camera it works like a 43mm lens on a full-frame camera which gives it an exactly “normal” perspective, so it actually has a slightly narrower angle-of-view than the Trip 35 even though it has a shorter focal length lens. The Trip 35 exposes a standard 24mm x 36mm frame on the film which produces a picture with a 2:3 aspect ratio. The Pen EES-2 exposes a 18mm x 24mm frame on the film which gives you a 3:4 aspect ratio. This is a very interesting ratio for a few reasons. First, it’s the original 35mm movie aspect ratio, so your pictures have a classic cinematic appearance. Second, it’s the same aspect ratio of new digital 4/3 cameras and cameras with a APS-C sensor. In fact, most APS-C sensors are the size of a classic half-frame.

Both cameras use four-position zone-focusing, but you have to be just a bit more careful with focus on the Pen EES-2 because of the slightly higher magnification. You will notice is your focus is off. Both cameras have icons for “One Person”, “Two People”, “Three People”, and “Mountain”. Both cameras have a hot shoe as well as a PC connector for off-camera flash capabilities. Both cameras have tripod threads. Both cameras have eyelets on both sides to attach a strap. Both cameras use a thumbwheel to advance the film. Both use 43.5mm filters! This size is uncommon, so it’s a bit difficult to find, but not impossible. You can still find 43.5mm filters and you can also use step-down rings. Cokin makes a 43.5mm holder for their filters, so this isn’t really a problem. The interesting thing is that both the Trip 35 and the Pen EES-2 have threaded lenses and they’re the same size. Both cameras have a four-element f/2.8 Olympus D Zuiko coated lens. Many people consider the 40mm lens on the Trip 35 one of the greatest lenses ever designed. The 30mm lens on the Pen EES-2 is almost exactly the same design in a wider focal length to support the half-frame format.

Shooting with the Pen EES-2

Shooting with the Pen EES-2 is a joy. It’s almost exactly the same size as my LC-A+, but heavier. Still it’s lighter than the Trip 35. It has exactly the same sturdy construction as the Trip 35. It uses lots of metal. One very important thing to note when you’re shooting half-frame is that the default mode is portrait. Most of the time, you will want to shoot in landscape mode which means you will be holding the camera sideways. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem with the Pen EES-2. Some cameras are difficult to operate sideways because of the position of the shutter release button, or the thumbwheel, or some other reason, but this isn’t the case with the Pen EES-2. I ended up shooting most of my shots in landscape mode with no problems.

Zone focusing makes focusing quick and easy, as long as you remember to do it. Once you select your film speed, it’s just a matter of focusing and shooting. You would think that only two shutter speeds, 1/200” and 1/40”, would be very limiting, but in practice it works very well because the camera has a wide selection of apertures. The autoexposure system favors a fast shutter speed to reduce camera shake.

Because it’s a half-frame camera, the pictures will be “grainier” if you enlarge them to the same size as a full-frame shot. Still, the sharp lens and fine-grain films available today can alleviate this problem. To further reduce granularity, you can use a slow film – 100 ASA or slower.

Examples

Endless Panoramas

Endless panoramas are possible by holding down the rewind button while you advance the film partially to reset the shutter.

Multiple-Exposures

Multiple exposures are possible by holding down the rewind button while you advance to the next frame.

Close Focus

This is about as close as the Pen EES-2 can focus.

Other Shots

Here are some other shots.

written by gvelasco on 2012-05-04 in #reviews #half-frame #olympus-pen-ees-2 #olympus #pen-ees-2 #review

6 Comments

  1. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Hey, this is a very good and specific camera review, with lots of informations...<:) Pen EE-s2 is my favorite camera too. I haven't tried multi exposure yet, Have to do it someday...<:) Well done work..<:)

  2. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thank you.

  3. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Nice review. I like reading your articles.

  4. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thanks.

  5. simon-hedge
    simon-hedge ·

    Really well-written and thorough review.

  6. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thanks, Simon.

More Interesting Articles

  • LomoKino: Life in Moving Pictures!

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-21 in #reviews
    LomoKino: Life in Moving Pictures!

    I bought the LomoKino years ago, and since then I've been having great times with it. I will continue documenting my daily life with the LomoKino, which is Lomography in motion! You can see the movements and facial expressions of people - it’s priceless! Documenting life in moving pictures, the Lomokino can be used as a camera that not only shoots moving pictures but also works like the multi-frame wonder camera, Supersampler!

  • Carson Sanders Talks 'Instant Cubans' and His Passion for Analogue Photography

    written by chooolss on 2014-11-05 in #lifestyle
    Carson Sanders Talks 'Instant Cubans' and His Passion for Analogue Photography

    Traveling is almost synonymous to taking photographs, and for many photographers, it's always a question of which gear to bring to document their trips with. For Carson Sanders, he brought his Fuji Instax Wide, among other cameras, on his first ever trip to Cuba just last May.

  • 'Aniki-Bòbò': A Tribute to Manoel De Oliveira

    written by sirio174 on 2015-04-08 in #world #lifestyle
    'Aniki-Bòbò': A Tribute to Manoel De Oliveira

    This article is a tribute to the great Portuguese film director Manoel de Oliveira, who died last April 2. With an old Praktica loaded with a roll of black and white film, I captured so enthusiastically his city Oporto (Porto) with its famous Ribeira district, the most characteristic of the Lusitanian town. It was here that more than 70 years ago, Manoel De Oliveira created a timeless masterpiece: "Aniki-Bòbò"!

    1
  • Shop News

    Colorsplash your World!

    Colorsplash your World!

    At 30% off you can now color your analog images with 12 different color gels. Experiment with 35mm slide film and play with the built-in color flash for the most intense colors!

  • Photo Stories: Holiest City, Oldest City by flyaway

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-06-21 in #world #locations
    Photo Stories: Holiest City, Oldest City by flyaway

    Situated along the banks of the Ganges, the vibrant city of Varanasi is one of the most important in Hinduism. It is where pilgrims flock to wash their sins in the waters of the great river and hold sacred rituals. During a trip a few years back, flyaway was able to capture scenes unique to this city on film.

  • Top 5 Noteworthy Architectural Details

    written by kenaz on 2015-07-16 in #world #lifestyle
    Top 5 Noteworthy Architectural Details

    A building is a story of collective effort. The people who dreamed it up and polished every surface are anonymous to many, but their work announces a unique identity. For tourists, architecture is a marker of place, like souvenirs with flags and national costumes. For the camera-lugging traveler, a strong visual statement is what matters most.

  • The Analogue Quiz: What the Hex is Your Color?

    written by andie_sollmer on 2014-09-23 in #news

    Our Hex colors are a great way to distinguish your photographs according to the shade of color you like most. But which primary color is the one you should use more often in your photographs?

    4
  • Shop News

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Carefully enlarged from your negatives onto premium photographic paper by lab professionals, each picture is a unique piece of craftsmanship.

  • Photo Stories: We Must Celebrate Water by disdis

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-06-03 in #world #locations
    Photo Stories: We Must Celebrate Water by disdis

    One of the things that make a trip to a far-flung place truly memorable is getting the chance to interact with the locals and share fun moments with them. Five years ago, disdis was able to do exactly that on a trip to Zinguinchor, Senegal, and it goes without saying that it was most certainly one for the books.

  • The Magic Yet To Come: Part 1

    written by Lomography on 2014-09-02 in #news
    The Magic Yet To Come: Part 1

    Here’s a random and rather mysterious tale for you folks. Just the other day, I was at a local bar with a few friends. It was much like any other evening; we were sipping a couple of cocktails, recounting our adventures, falling over ourselves with laughter and half-drunkenly meditating on the meaning of life (a scientist once told me it’s 42 by the way). But then something truly strange happened. Read on to hear my story and please make a comment with your guess at the end!

    33
  • Lomo'Instant LomoAmigo: Britta Burger

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-01-16 in #people #lomoamigos
    Lomo'Instant LomoAmigo: Britta Burger

    Britta Burger is a photographer and long time fan of film photography. She is the fashion editor for Cooler Magazine and founder of Cheap Tricks magazine. Lomography UK lent her a Lomo'instant camera, which she took on a trip to Austria. Catch a glimpse of her scenic instant shots.

  • Shop News

    The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit opens up a new, creative photographic domain!

    The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit opens up a new, creative photographic domain!

    Satisfy your hunger for creative snap-shooting with this lens package made especially for Micro 4/3 digital cameras! Don't miss the 20% discount!

  • A Salute to the Masters: Hands (A Tribute to David Goldblatt)

    written by sirio174 on 2014-11-08 in #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: Hands (A Tribute to David Goldblatt)

    South African photographer David Goldblatt is famous for his reportage during the apartheid. In 1975 he started an original series depicting detailed photographs of body parts which were published in the book, "Particulars." As a tribute to this great artist, I'll show you a series of close-up photographs of hands. Stay tuned!

  • Fresh from My Darkroom: The First Game of the New Rugby Season

    written by sirio174 on 2014-10-15 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from My Darkroom: The First Game of the New Rugby Season

    Last Sunday, the local rugby team Rugby Como played the first match of the 2014-1025 season. Rugby is my favorite sport to photograph, and for some years I've been documenting almost every home match of this young team. This time I used a 1959 Zorki 5 camera with a vintage 1958 Industar-50 lens loaded with a timeless film, the Ilford HP5+ developed in a century-old developer, the mythical Rodinal. Take a look after the jump!

    2
  • Art Shack Art Supply Store

    written by rviferreira on 2015-01-11 in #world #locations
    Art Shack Art Supply Store

    At the geographic center of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, right at the heart of Moncton city lies the Art Shack, an art supply store and studio. Originally established in Sackville NB, the Art Shack art supply store and studio is run by local artists. It provides a myriad of art materials and framing, and focus an approach of education through art to the surrounding communities. Some of the most iconic Lomography analogue cameras are available at the store.