Olympus Pen EE-3: The Pen-o-tastic Half-Frame Camera


A picture tells more than a thousand words, they say. At its best it tells a whole story. But what if one frame at a time is not enough to tell the whole story? That’s where half frame photography really excels.
The 1973 build Olympus Pen EE-3 is my weapon of choice when it comes to half frame.

The Pen EE-3 is a rugged little half frame camera. Like all half frame cameras you get two pictures on a single 24 × 36 mm frame or, if your lab is generous, even two pictures on your print. The EE-3 is an equipped with full automatic exposure. That’s what the EE stand for: Electronic Eye. It measures the available light with its selenium cell meter around the lens and chooses between two shutter speeds, 1/125 and 1/30 of a second, the aperture is fixed via the ISO/ASA rating of the film. For flash photography, the aperture can be set manually.

Upon depressing the shutter button halfway the meter measures if there is enough light. If there is, the exposure is taken by pressing it fully, if there isn’t, the viewfinder turns red. This technique gives you an AE lock too, even though I don´t know if it´s intended to be this way. How it works can be seen in the following picture. The first one I took by pointing the Pen at the building. On the second one I pointed the camera a little downwards on the dark area on the building pressing the shutter button halfway, the framed the picture and pressing the button fully down.


One really great thing about the Pen EE-3 is that it´s not only fully automatic but also fixed focus. There is no fiddling around with controls, you just take a picture. That makes it a really Lomographic camera. When shooting with my Pen I rarely just take one picture at a time. When I would take just one with a full frame camera, I take two with the Pen. I don´t feel like there’s 72 exposures on a roll of film but 36 double exposures.

Half frame gives you a lot of creative possibilities. Here´s just a few techniques I use:

Take a shot. Turn the camera any angle you like. Take a second shot of the same subject. Works great with geometrical shapes.
The Pen-o-Rama:
Line up your first shot. Important: Start left! Memorize what´s at the right side in the viewfinder. Take the shot. Wind, then frame the second shot according to what you memorized in the first. Repeat until satisfied.
The Pair:
Take two shots of the same subject. One from away, on close-up. Or one from every side. You get the point.


Tell a story within two or three pictures.

The possibilities are endless:

So if you want to try out half frame photography, the Olympus Pen EE-3 is a sure choice.

written by zark on 2011-05-30 #people #gear #review #panorama #olympus #half-frame #lomography #techniques #zark #film-camera #user-review #2011 #pen-ee-3


  1. bulletofmine
    bulletofmine ·

    hi there, I love this article so much. You made my mentality towards half frame camera changed. Before this I always think what else can half frame camera do other than pairing and images and panorama. From here you can tell me that it can we can actually practice framing a picture through the half frame camera . KUDOS !

  2. fendyfazeli
    fendyfazeli ·

    i love it :)

  3. lomo__lurv
    lomo__lurv ·

    I WANT A HALF FRAME CAM!! aiming the Pen FT!!!

  4. elsje
    elsje ·

    I just bought a Pen EE-3! very happy to find this review!!

  5. scottymooo
    scottymooo ·

    Got a Pen EE3 this week.
    Test roll in.
    This review has got me very, very excited.

  6. akula
    akula ·

    Great camera - great photos

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