One of the most successful and best known cameras produced by Olympus, the original Pen was a half-frame camera launched in 1959. It was succeeded by other models and progressed into the Pen Series. Find out more about the camera that popularized the 35mm half-frame format in this installment of Lomopedia.
The first-generation Olympus Pen was a half-frame 35mm film camera designed by Maitani Yoshihisa and was introduced in Japan in October 1959. It was the camera that popularized half-frame photography during the 1960s and became an instant hit in Japan.
One of the key considerations that propelled Maitani’s design was the projected price of ¥6,000 per camera. The Pen boasted of a compact size — thought to be as handy as a pen, hence the name — and superb performance of its 28mm f/3.5 D-Zuiko Lens. It had fully manual settings and no light meter, with shutter speeds of 25, 50, 100, 200, and bulb, and aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22.
The Olympus Pen was succeeded by an almost similar model called Pen S, which had shutter speeds of 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, and B, and came with either a 30mm f/2.8 lens or an 28mm f/3.5 lens. Many other models with improved features were introduced until the early 1980s, and the family of these half-frame cameras came to be known as the Olympus Pen Series.