Shooting with the Pen EES2 was not as fun as I had hoped. I haven't worked with it enough to trust the selenium/automatic combination. I could trust an uncoupled selenium meter because I can compare its readings to my opinion. With this camera however, I never know exactly what it's doing.
The size and weight are nice though. With more practice, I think I could come to like it.
The results were unfortunately a failure. Even with the twin miracles of film scanning and photo manipulation, I was unable to salvage any presentable images. I have captured nice shots in the past with this camera, so I believe the problem was with my flea market film. I will put the camera back on the shelf for another day, and I'll shoot a test roll of the film in a known camera.
In the interim, here are a few good shots from the Olympus Pen EES2 from earlier this year.
For this week's camera, we swing the pendulum from medium format to sub-miniature. The Olympus Pen EES-2 is a half-frame camera from 1968-1971. It uses regular 35mm film, but it produces a 24x18mm image instead of the usual 24×36. This makes it a great camera for traveling, as you can fit up to 72 images on one roll.
The EES-2 uses a 30mm f2.8 lens which is roughly equivalent to 45mm on a full-frame camera. It's a viewfinder camera with a guess focus system. The lens barrel has four pictographs ranging from portrait to landscape with a positive notch at each. Exposure is automatically controlled using a selenium cell mounted circumferentially around the lens. Exposures from f2.8 to f22 may also be manually selected with what I believe is a 1/40 shutter speed. Automatic shutter speeds are 1/40 or 1/200. It has both a hot shoe and a flash sync socket.
The Pen series of cameras was designed to be small and light for everyday use. While it is a nice size, I don't find it appreciably smaller than a lot of my other cameras. If fact, it is both larger and heavier than my Olympus 35RC rangefinder.
I'm using mystery film this week. I found a pair of bulk loaders with film for $10 at a flea market last weekend. The right thing would be to run a test roll, but instead I've loaded a short roll in the Pen. I don't have the patience for a full roll of 48 or 72 shots. I've discovered in the darkroom that the film appears to be good Kodak Tri-X 400. As I don't know how old it is, I've rated it at 320ASA. We'll know soon.
This is a little film geek-y, but please bear with me. The $100 darkroom included a shopping bag full of expired film. Some people like expired film for its unpredictability, but I’d never tried shooting any. The Tri-X 400 shouldn’t be too hard to handle, the Portra 160 might have some interesting colors, but the 12-year expired Tmax 3200 could be trouble. Internet wisdom tells me that faster films are subject to more degradation and fogging.
There is no formula. It’s all dependent on how long ago the film expired, how it has been stored, how you shoot it, how you develop it, and a bit of luck. After much reading I decided to try overexposing my Tmax by two stops (800ASA). Beth grabbed the Holga 135BC, I loaded up the Olympus 35RC, and we headed out to Maudslay State Park.
Most of my shots were junk, but I was able to salvage a few in post-processing. The results are very grainy and very cool.
The Mighty Merrimac
For those who care, development was in D76 for 13 1/2 minutes, per the standard instructions for Tmax 3200.
It’s been an interesting month. I’ve been shooting a lot of film, and I indulged in a bit of Gear Acquisition Syndrome on eBay. One of my new toys is an Olympus 35RC.
The 35RC is a pocket 35mm rangefinder manufactured in the 1970s. There is a detailed review here.
First impressions are of a nicely sized, nicely weighted camera. The aperture control ring is a bit small and difficult to handle, but the automatic mode makes it unnecessary to adjust it often. I had my doubts about the accuracy of the meter because of a non-standard replacement battery. It seemed to be overexposing in the house.
After a quick dusting, I loaded a test roll of 200ASA and headed out.
The meter seemed to behave outdoors, shooting close to sunny 16. The wind is smooth and quiet. The lack of a mirror makes the shutter release with a gentle click and no vibration. As this is my first rangefinder, focusing took a bit of experimentation. Beth and I shot most of a roll along the Topsfield Linear Common.
If the shots come out well, this one should figure high on my regular carry list. I’ll post a few once they are developed.