LC-A Big Book Chapter 73: As Compact as an SLR Can Be: the Olympus Pen

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The Olympus Pen series used several tricks to avoid this problem. By using a complex series of internal prisms rather than a pentaprism and a half-frame format (meaning that you could take up to 72 shots on a roll of 35mm film) that also allowed the use of smaller lenses, the Pen was one of the smallest SLR-cameras ever and stands at the beginning of the success story of Olympus as a manufacturer of small innovative cameras.

One of the most inventive SLR-cameras was probably the 1963 Olympus Pen. Many companies tried to make SLRs as compact as the rangefinder-cameras that they were replacing, but didn’t succeed. The problem was always that the large and bulky pentaprism-mechanism that defined contemporary SLR-cameras simply couldn’t be made smaller. The Olympus Pen series used several tricks to avoid this problem. By using a complex series of internal prisms rather than a pentaprism and a half-frame format (meaning that you could take up to 72 shots on a roll of 35mm film) that also allowed the use of smaller lenses, the Pen was one of the smallest SLR-cameras ever and stands at the beginning of the success story of Olympus as a manufacturer of small innovative cameras. One model of the series, the Pen EM, is also known for being the first compact camera with an automatic built-in motor drive to advance and rewind the film in no time. Moreover, the Olympus Pen was designed by Mr Yoshihisa Maitani, who also conceived the influential Olympus XA a few decades later.

Have the full glory of the book here

written by ungrumpy on 2011-03-21 in #library

3 Comments

  1. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    WHy do they have viewfinders?

  2. rbruce63
    rbruce63 ·

    @robotmonkey1996 The viewfinder is used to compose the photograph. Since the camera doesn't have a complex prism and mirror to see through the lens, the view finder is used to compose and the camera is more compact. Other viewfinder cameras come with a coupled rangefinder to assess correct distance from focal plane to,subject instead of guessing and zone-focusing. The trade off is sometimes parallax error, for those cameras without parallax correction and fixed lens.

  3. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    No shit. I'm asking that because it's being compared to an SLR which doesn't make sense.

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