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Half Frames / Subminiatures This forum is for all half frame 35mm cameras, including the very popular Olympus Pens and their SLR cousins, the Pen F and Pen FT, as well as all smaller than half frame subminiature film cameras.

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So... is it a Pen F or Pen FT?
Old 07-11-2007   #1
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So... is it a Pen F or Pen FT?

I know the FT/F is a SLR but I figured I'd try here anyways. I received in my posession a Pen FT (or so I thought) despite some discreperencies I am happy with it, just has some oddities.

Gona go ahead and list off some of the oddies.

1) Has a Hot Shoe that actually works
2) Says FT on the top and on case, but came with an F accessory shoe attachment
3) Viewfinder is just an even black border, no meter window on left or extra black space to acomidate for it.
4) Has a battery compartment in the bottom despite no way for there to be a meter display in the viewfinder, but it is an FT body...
5) Has a microprism spot (which further make it seem like it should be an FT body)
6) Self Timer is broken or at the very least doesn't seem like it's attached to anything.
7) There is ASA setting on shutter dial, and the 0-7 setting on lens which would be on an FT.

Other than the microprism spot, everything internally seems to be more like an F rather than an FT. When I open the bottom theres only one blue wire connecting to the battery but not another wire, then a red one near the middle which seems like they mighta used an FT body and it's wiring to wire the hot shoe to the shutter tripping.


I couldn't tell you what the serial number is since the hot shoe is on there permenetly. But appears to end in 734.

Simply put it just seems... odd, but I think I'm going to like it regardless.
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Old 07-11-2007   #2
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The hot shoe doesn't look original, because it covers the body serial number. I will make a wild guess that possibly this camera began life as an "F" and had the hot shoe added after it was purchased. And possibly that's when new top and bottom plates were installed from an "FT."

Guess you'll never know.

My FT has no hot shoe, just the slide-on accessory shoe that must be removed in order to rewind the film.

My FT does show the in-viewfinder meter
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Old 07-11-2007   #3
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The F has no meter whereas the FT has a meter. Go with this distinguishing feature.
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Old 07-11-2007   #4
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Very odd hot shoe, never seen a Pen SLR with that, clearly a custom adaptation.

Definitely stock FT top and bottom covers. Odd about the lack of meter indication... That could have been blocked off while they were working inside on the hot shoe. Or it could be an F or FV body (or finder parts). Given the bottom plate, which is unique to the FT, it seems likely to be an FT frame also.

Question: Film wind... is it single-stroke or double stroke? The original F was double-stroke, while the FT and (meterless) FV were single stroke.

The F did not have a self-timer, the other two did. But I think it tended to break and might have been removed. My FV has a round chrome plug where the lever and its shaft should be.

I've never had an F to see what its screen's focusing aid is like, but the FT and FV have the microprism spot you mention. The FV is missing the meter display and the screen is a bit brighter because no light is siphoned off for a meter.

Looks like a pretty clean sample, Karl! And the 38mm f1.8 is reputed to be the sharpest of its various normal lenses. BTW, the clip-on cold-shoe is blamed for breaking off bits of the black plastic eyepiece... if yours is intact that's another point in its favor.
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Old 07-11-2007   #5
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Doug is correct and I stand corrected; the FV is meterless. This looks like a hacked FT/F combo.
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Old 07-11-2007   #6
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My guess is someone removed the entire metering system (or transplanted the mirror box from an F/FV) in an effort to make the viewing a little brighter.. what does the mirror itself look like, specifically the back of it?

The fact that the wind lever goes all the way to the right of the body says 'FT' as well - regular 'F's had the wind lever sitting slightly inboard w/no notch all the way out..

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Old 07-11-2007   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cale Arthur
My guess is someone removed the entire metering system (or transplanted the mirror box from an F/FV) in an effort to make the viewing a little brighter.. what does the mirror itself look like, specifically the back of it?

The fact that the wind lever goes all the way to the right of the body says 'FT' as well - regular 'F's had the wind lever sitting slightly inboard w/no notch all the way out..

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Front and back of the mirror.
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Old 07-11-2007   #8
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I may be way, way off base here, but i had thought that FT's had a different mirror layout & look. That one looks just like my FV, which could support the transplanted mirror-box theory.

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Old 07-11-2007   #9
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Looks like an FT with two mods:
- replacement of inside half-transparent/meter mirror with full mirror (get rid of meter and increase vf brightness by one stop)
- addition of hotshoe (pretty cool, I find).

Roland.
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Old 07-11-2007   #10
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I am gona go shoot some kodak ultratec with a vivitar 283 flash on the hot shoe, brb (it's ISO 6 so I'll have to use a flash but least I can develop by inspection in a tray).
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Old 07-11-2007   #11
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The "F" engraving is in gothic script (similar style to the "F" on the lens cap) & has a two-stroke film advance.
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Old 07-11-2007   #12
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Ferider is right, it's a cool mod; one stop extra-brightness is well worth having. I have an F & have used an FT in the past & the difference in finder brightness is appreciable. The built-in meter wasn't much help, for me anyway. I tried to find an FV- these are thin on the ground- & eventually settled for an F, despite the less- easy-to-focus ground glass screen
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Old 07-11-2007   #13
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Nice shots, Karl.. whatever the deal is, i'm glad you found one.. knew you were looking for a minute. Sadly, my FV is again in a state of disrepair (blown main shutter cam) after a trip to Detroit. Am currently on the hunt for a 'parts' body, which should be fun.

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ps: I think Roland nailed it.. all things being equal, some pretty handy changes there!
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Old 07-11-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cale Arthur
Nice shots, Karl.. whatever the deal is, i'm glad you found one.. knew you were looking for a minute. Sadly, my FV is again in a state of disrepair (blown main shutter cam) after a trip to Detroit. Am currently on the hunt for a 'parts' body, which should be fun.

--c--
My co-worker has an old Pen-FT he had for a few years, but he hasn't used it in years because no repair tech in the area, even our illustrius local repairman Peter can't get at the shutter. They could fix it if they could just get at the shutter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cale Arthur
Nice shots, Karl.. whatever the deal is, i'm glad you found one.. knew you were looking for a minute.
Yea I got the above in trade for my near-mint condition Yashica Mat-124G and couple rolls of 120 film. He was just as eager to get the yashica so I guess it was a fair trade. I was a tad worried at first because he admited to having never run a roll thru the FT before.
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Old 07-11-2007   #15
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[quote=kb244]My co-worker has an old Pen-FT he had for a few years, but he hasn't used it in years because no repair tech in the area, even our illustrius local repairman Peter can't get at the shutter. They could fix it if they could just get at the shutter.


Try http://www.zuiko.com/index.htm

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Old 07-11-2007   #16
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The back of Karl's mirror looks just like the backs of my FT and FV mirrors. The camera doesn't use a pentaprism, but rather a sequence of two prisms and a mirror in between them to bring the image right-way-around for viewing. And it's this internal mirror that's semi-silvered to feed light to the meter. The small rectangular window on the top deck at the rear edge illuminates the viewfinder's meter display (the F and FV don't have this window) Here's a diagram from an FT brochure...
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Old 07-11-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
The back of Karl's mirror looks just like the backs of my FT and FV mirrors. The camera doesn't use a pentaprism, but rather a sequence of two prisms and a mirror in between them to bring the image right-way-around for viewing. And it's this internal mirror that's semi-silvered to feed light to the meter. The small rectangular window on the top deck at the rear edge illuminates the viewfinder's meter display (the F and FV don't have this window) Here's a diagram from an FT brochure...
However I assume it is likely that when whoever put in the hot shoe replaced the mirror with maybe one from an F or a custom one so that there was no light loss and so they could just remove the meter cell to put in the hot shoe. I would not know for sure unless I figured a way to take the top off.
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Old 07-11-2007   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
And it's this internal mirror that's semi-silvered to feed light to the meter.
Yep, i was WAY, way off.. my apologies!
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Old 07-11-2007   #19
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Glad you got to keep the original Pen! That's a beauty.

Somewhat related to one of your original points, and i'm not sure how widely this is known (i found it in the fine print of a Pen FV lens guide), but apparently, if you pull the aperture ring out slightly, it'll disengage and rotate all the way around to show the Oly numbers 'system' on the top of the lens! I can see this being very handy for those w/an F or FV - you can just move the 'numbers' back to the bottom when you want to be able to see the f-stops up top if you have a lens that originally came w/and FT!! ..for me, that little design really sealed the deal on Maitani being utterly brilliant human being.

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Old 07-11-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cale Arthur
Glad you got to keep the original Pen! That's a beauty.
...
--c--
Speaking of original Pen.


Kinda getting 'cute' I just need an OM-1 then.
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Old 07-12-2007   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244
Speaking of original Pen.

Kinda getting 'cute' I just need an OM-1 then.
Not so fast, you need a Pen D, EED, EM, W, S, EE-S, EL, then you can start your OM...
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Old 07-12-2007   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Not so fast, you need a Pen D, EED, EM, W, S, EE-S, EL, then you can start your OM...

Nawwwwwww besides I have no desire for fully automatic RFs (EE*) Pen D maybe...
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Old 07-12-2007   #23
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Out of curiousity, when they went from the F to FT I know they "improved" the shutter, but did they change it to something other than a rotary type? I know the whole rotary type was advertized for the F but I don't get a clear understand of the 'type' when reading bout the FT. It looks like it basically has a sheet of metal that retracts pretty freaking fast, stays open for the shutter duration and then snaps back closed just as fast, possibly fast enough that they were still able to claim shutter sync speeds up to 1/500th of a second because I assume the entire film plane is exposued during the entire duration, or is at least uncovered and covered fast enough as not to cause a bar.
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Old 07-12-2007   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244
Out of curiousity, when they went from the F to FT I know they "improved" the shutter, but did they change it to something other than a rotary type?
They all have the same metal rotary focal plane shutter.

I did some digging in old reviews and articles about the FT and found mention of shutter improvements by Jason Schneider in his Modern Photo column "the camera collector" appearing a few years after the Pen F system was discontinued.

Quoting Jason, "...they attacked one of the original F's few defects, occasionally erratic shutter operation, by redesigning the speed-governing mechanism."

Gratifying to our RF interests, he mentioned the compact size and comfortable shape, "...reminiscent of rangefinder Leicas and Canons. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the Pen F's staunchest devotees are drawn from the ranks of rangefinder enthusiasts."

His article included the same graphic of the viewfinder light path I posted above, yet he still erroneously described a porroprism constructed of mirrors, whereas it actually has one mirror and two prisms. In a segue to mentioning the side-swinging instant return mirror, he also said the focusing screen was placed 45 degrees to the side rather than above. Of course that should be 90 degrees, but it's a fairly easy error to make. Otherwise an interesting retrospective.

A November 1967 Modern Photo Test of the new Pen FT described the new metering system, then listed a few other detail changes from the F. Visible fresnel lens rings in the focusing screen now gone, and the microprism spot added to the center of the larger circle of fine ground glass. Wind lever is longer and of course single stroke rather than double. Self timer added. "The take-up spool is now a quick-loading multiple slot and tooth type. The frame counter has slightly larger numbers..." and M flash sync has been added along with the X.

In a backwards sequence from Pentax experience, the slower normal lenses for the Pen F are better/sharper than the faster ones. Definitely a sacrifice in optimum performance when going from the 38 f1.8 to the 40 f1.4 and especially the 42mm f1.2. They really liked the 38 and 70.

I found a January 1970 Camera 35 test of nine Pen FT lenses where they get confused about angles of view, saying "... this 70mm telephoto ... would be the equivalent of q 140mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera..." And they make the same kind of error for the 60mm f1.5 ("120mm") and 100mm f3.5 ("...equivalent of a 200mm telephoto..."). Oddly they make no mention of their incorrect 2x focal length "crop factor" with shorter lenses, and even characterize the 20mm as an "ultra-wide", when in fact its angle of view is 73 degrees, placing it about the equivalent of 30mm on a full-frame.

The test shows this 20mm f3.5 and the 25mm f2.8 as both about equally excellent optically.
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Old 07-12-2007   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
They all have the same metal rotary focal plane shutter.
According to my co-worker who was looking at the back of the shutter, said it can't be a rotary shutter, no where for it to rotate up into the body claiming there was no space for it. Says the rotary one actually looks like a disc based on his experience with his Pen-F before he sold it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
...
I found a January 1970 Camera 35 test of nine Pen FT lenses where they get confused about angles of view, saying "... this 70mm telephoto ... would be the equivalent of q 140mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera..." And they make the same kind of error for the 60mm f1.5 ("120mm") and 100mm f3.5 ("...equivalent of a 200mm telephoto..."). Oddly they make no mention of their incorrect 2x focal length "crop factor" with shorter lenses, and even characterize the 20mm as an "ultra-wide", when in fact its angle of view is 73 degrees, placing it about the equivalent of 30mm on a full-frame.

The test shows this 20mm f3.5 and the 25mm f2.8 as both about equally excellent optically.
Is it really 2.0x? I've been going by 1.4x this whole time seeing as a 25mm x 1.4 = 35mm perspective, or 38mm x 1.4 = 53.2 which would coincide with their marking the 25 as a wide and 38 as a normal.
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Old 07-12-2007   #26
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PS: Found the exploded view of the FT's shutter design and makes more sense now, it's not like the "mercury" shutter that my co-worker described, but rather a quarter of a circle swinging down then back up.
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Old 07-12-2007   #27
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Hi Karl -- Yes, correct, the 24x18mm half frame has a 30mm diagonal vs 43.3 for full-frame, so the "crop factor" is 1.44... And the magazine was wrong in figuring 2x, their error was what caught my attention! (Above I said: their incorrect 2x focal length "crop factor")

Actually, some sources hold that the half-frame format is 24x17mm rather than 18mm, and this makes a certain sense because there's a bit of space between frames, and half frame has not only twice as many frames, but also twice as many inter-frame spaces. And, keeping a reasonable width, these extra spaces have to come from somewhere... Measuring my Pen frames crudely with a plastic caliper, it seems they are about 17.2mm each. That would raise the "crop factor" to about 1.47x
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Old 07-12-2007   #28
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LoL for simplicity sakes I guess I'll continue to refer to it as 1.4 (lil easier to assume 25 seems like 35 as opposed to 36.75) , however when it gets up into the higher lens say 250mm thats a difference of 350mm vs 367.5mm
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Old 07-12-2007   #29
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I sometimes use my Pentax SMC lenses on the Pen FT via an adapter for M42 to Olympus mount. If we take the 1.44 factor into account, a 50mm/1.4 becomes an improved 72mm/1.4 lens with higher resolution due to shooting through the center of the lens. Using a 85mm/1.8 lens would give you a 122mm/1.8 lens!

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Old 07-12-2007   #30
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Quote:
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I sometimes use my Pentax SMC lenses on the Pen FT via an adapter for M42 to Olympus mount. If we take the 1.44 factor into account, a 50mm/1.4 becomes an improved 72mm/1.4 lens with higher resolution due to shooting through the center of the lens. Using a 85mm/1.8 lens would give you a 122mm/1.8 lens!

Raid
if I could even find the damn adapter ( either M42, or Canon FD) I would be doing just what you said since I got plenty of lens for either.
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Old 07-12-2007   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244
if I could even find the damn adapter ( either M42, or Canon FD) I would be doing just what you said since I got plenty of lens for either.
Karl,

Nobody actually must use the half-frame cameras, but they are fun to use. Having such an adapter opens the door for using other lenses that we may not have for the Pen F.
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Old 07-12-2007   #32
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Karl,

Nobody actually must use the half-frame cameras, but they are fun to use. Having such an adapter opens the door for using other lenses that we may not have for the Pen F.
This I already understand just a matter of how difficult they are to find, and if you do they're like 350$. Because you know sometimes I might just want to have a small little SLR body on me, and then pick up a nice fast 50 or 85mm prime to slap on the front cheap.
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Old 07-12-2007   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid
Having such an adapter opens the door for using other lenses that we may not have for the Pen F.
Very true, Raid; it opens up whole new worlds of lenses to get more use out of the sleek little bodies!

Four years ago I got an M42 adapter from Kevin Cameras, and it's been useful... though the lenses must be stopped down manually for exposure if you focus wide open. I've used my 28mm SMC and 50/1.4 on the Pen and it works fine.

So KevinCameras was the first place I thought of when the adapter subject arose here, and I just went to his site to have a look. He has two M42 adapters now, $145 and $165. Plus an OM adapter, a bunch for Nikon and a whole slew of Exacta adapters. These others are more expensive than the M42 ones.

http://www.kevincameras.com/index.html and then click on Pen F in the list below, then choose "Misc" category. He usually carries a lot of Pen F stuff, fun to look over...
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Old 07-12-2007   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
Very true, Raid; it opens up whole new worlds of lenses to get more use out of the sleek little bodies!

Four years ago I got an M42 adapter from Kevin Cameras, and it's been useful... though the lenses must be stopped down manually for exposure if you focus wide open. I've used my 28mm SMC and 50/1.4 on the Pen and it works fine.

So KevinCameras was the first place I thought of when the adapter subject arose here, and I just went to his site to have a look. He has two M42 adapters now, $145 and $165. Plus an OM adapter, a bunch for Nikon and a whole slew of Exacta adapters. These others are more expensive than the M42 ones.

http://www.kevincameras.com/index.html and then click on Pen F in the list below, then choose "Misc" category. He usually carries a lot of Pen F stuff, fun to look over...
Fun to look at, but not too fun for your bank account. Most of his eBay stuff is WAY WAY WAY overpriced. It's far beyond dissuading resellers.
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Old 07-12-2007   #35
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Doug:
The asking price of about $150 is not too bad.
I may have paid $35 or so for the M42 adapter; this was many years ago though. I get very sharp results with the SMC 85mm/1.8 and the Pen FT.

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Old 07-12-2007   #36
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Now that i have some OM glass, one of the OM adapters would be nice to have around, but, strangely, they seem to be the toughest adapters to find..

Both Mount Magic and the hilariously-named Screw World make replacement lens mounts that adapt some pretty exotic lenses to the F's (Alpa, Robot, and a bunch of other oddities).. still just as expensive, though, and not as 'modular'.

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Old 07-12-2007   #37
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Just so you guys know, I did an actual live shoot today and the Pen FT performed well, I can't really complain.


Ilford FP4+ 125
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Old 07-12-2007   #38
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Nice shot indeed, Karl! Smooth gradations and just a bit of texture from the grain. I like FP4 in the Pen F @250 in Diafine, partly for the grain structure.

I agree Kevin is expensive, and caters to the collector crowd. But when you want something, and he's got it, then you can opt to pay to get it. I suspect his eBay prices are even higher than his online store prices though. I noted a few months ago he was offering on eBay something I wanted, with a BIN of $650 or Best Offer. I offered $450 and he countered with $499 and I declined. He's kept renewing his 30-day auction and I think it's still up now with a dozen or so offers either declined or expired. So be it... I found the item elsewhere for about what I'd offered him.

So if one has a yen for, say, a 70mm f2 Zuiko for Pen F, one can shop at Kevin's and pick among 3 or 4 different ones at varying conditions and (highish) prices... and maybe bite the bullet.

For a while I was shopping for a good M42 SMC 55mm f1.8 just to use on the Pen adapter, figuring the equivalent ~80mm would be pretty useful. And this lens has a good reputation.
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Old 07-13-2007   #39
kb244
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Nice shot indeed, Karl! Smooth gradations and just a bit of texture from the grain. I like FP4 in the Pen F @250 in Diafine, partly for the grain structure.
I had least couple people look at the photo above and then say something like "grain is an understatement" as if its got like too much ( I dunno guess in the digital age, any grain is too much grain and the girls gota look like plastic ).
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Old 07-13-2007   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244
I had least couple people look at the photo above and then say something like "grain is an understatement" as if its got like too much ( I dunno guess in the digital age, any grain is too much grain and the girls gota look like plastic ).

Karl:
The posted photo is a fine one.
Why did you choose to take it with a half-frame camera?
Was there a specific reason for doing so or did you simply want to excercise the Pen FT?

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