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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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Olympus Pen FT
Old 12-13-2007   #1
Sonnar2
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Olympus Pen FT

Hi there, a couple of weeks ago I announced to look out for the half frame Olympus SLR. This camera isn't "mint" like some pictures may show but it's not abused either. Even the filter has a little ding. Actually it wasn't even very expensive. Coming from the RF corner and beeing a fan of the small-sized pre-Spotmatic era Pentax SLRs, I was impressed how small the Pen F actually is. A bit smaller than a Leica III.

Next, I get favored with the upright 4/3 format almost immediately. I guess it's great for photographing people. Different to some oppinions here, I found it's not noisy. It's a quiet SLR, much more silent than a contemporary Spotmatic. I found out that it belongs to the later serials (~1970) so maybe her mileage isn't very high. The shutter mechanism seems to be precise on the mark. Mirror-black-out is also *very* quick.

Even the finder is quite bright, maybe because of my luck to find the camera with a 40/1.4 lens. I will see how it performs (some sources say the Ultron type 38/1.8 is sharper)



Best of all, I found an unpacked PX625 Mercury cell in my cabinet (I wasn't assure having one left) and the meter works. The meter hasn't any ON-OFF switch visible so I hope it will not suck the battery dry when stored in the case.

Beeing aware that this is more a low-light camera I loaded some Ilford 400 B&W film. Half the film is through but one needs a bit patience with this 36-frames films I prefer when used in half format mode...



I'm so much impressed by this little working tool that I just wrote a new article for it at my website at http://www.klassik-cameras.de/Olympus_PenF.html

There are some more pictures plus a bit of history. Sorry again that's not English but I found that it's time to pay Maitani-san some small honor in German language. He is stil almost unknown among German enthusiasts when compared to (German) camera designers like Berek, Kueppenbender, Waaske, or Killfit.

At least, now I'm sure that I favorize for myself the black FT version....

Have fun, Frank

Last edited by Sonnar2 : 12-13-2007 at 12:47.
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Old 12-13-2007   #2
grainy_shadows
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beautiful looking camera!!
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Old 12-13-2007   #3
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Wow, that is simply gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing some your shots taken with it.

-Randy
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Old 02-27-2008   #4
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my first roll B&W (Ilforx XP2: a bit too grainy! My usual B&W is Delta 100/400)
The last one is as close as possible (1 ft/ 35cm !)
All with the 40/1.4. In the meantime I've got a 38/1.8, a 100/3.5 and a converter. A 50-90mm zoom is on the way.
A great camera, almost rangefinder-like...

have fun,
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Old 02-27-2008   #5
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Nice pictures Frank,
But I don't remember this much grain on an XP2, that's almost like a Fortepan

Nice collection of Pen FT lens, I also have the 25/2.8, it's surreal to compose in portrait with the wideangle lens.
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Old 02-27-2008   #6
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The black FT is very elegant! I have my father's chrome one, and use it occasionally. Grain in the XP2 film can be lessened by generous exposure; I usually set the meter ISO to 200 or 250 for this film (and all other C41 films too). This gives richer shadows and more tightly-packed dye clouds for a smoother look. Still I tend not to use XP2 in half-frame, instead celebrating this small format's ability to show traditional sharp-edged film grain. Ilford FP4 at 250 souped in Diafine gives that look.

If you can find the 20mm f3.5 Zuiko for the Pen, you might like it; very sharp, and about equivalent to 30mm in full-frame terms.
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Old 02-27-2008   #7
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I will look after it, but unfortunately the Pen 20/3.5 belongs to the species of lenses that cost more than it was new even with inflationary adjustment! (uncommon even with Leica glass)
I was amazed that some 60/1.5 were sold for 10x the amount I've paid for my 50-90-zoom!
But I'm afraid I'm alredy adicted to these highbred cameras, since I've bought a chrome FV just for the reason that the black FT wouldn't feel lonesome in my cabinet...

Last edited by Sonnar2 : 02-27-2008 at 11:10.
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Old 02-27-2008   #8
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Yes, you only have to scan through the Pen F stuff at KevinCameras.com to see there's a collector element boosting prices. I bought my M42-to-Pen lens adapter from Kevin, but have been lucky in finding stuff like the 20mm at good prices elsewhere. I have not been so lucky finding an affordable 60 or 70mm though!

I had to laugh when you mentioned your lonely FT needing a FV to keep it company. I felt the same and did the same; unfortunately my FV turned out to need quite a bit of repair. It's fine now, and a favorite in use.
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Old 02-27-2008   #9
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Very nice, Frank. You a very lucky to find a black FT with working meter.
And a lenscap is enough to avoid battery drain, usually. A case it better
of course.

The 60 is very expensive usually. Another great lens that
is not so expensive is the 70/2.

Just took a photo the other day of my FT. Here goes:



Cheers,

Roland.
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Old 02-28-2008   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
Just took a photo the other day of my FT. Here goes:
A 42mm is also rare. Do you use it fully open, Roland?

I'm passing the 70mm as well at prices of 300USD or more....

But a M42 converter would be nice.
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Old 02-28-2008   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
Very nice, Frank. You a very lucky to find a black FT with working meter.
And a lenscap is enough to avoid battery drain, usually. A case it better
of course.

The 60 is very expensive usually. Another great lens that
is not so expensive is the 70/2.

Just took a photo the other day of my FT. Here goes:
Cheers,

Roland.
I almost forgot that you have one also, Roland
Would love to see a wide-open picture from the 1.2
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Old 02-28-2008   #12
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I wonder if I can get this gallery photo from DSLRX to show up here... It's from the first roll I shot with the Pen FV, with the 40mm lens and Fuji Superia Xtra 400...

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Old 02-28-2008   #13
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Doug, that's an interesting self-portrait I've seen in a while
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Old 02-28-2008   #14
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I have a FT with two lenses (38mm and 50-90) plus a M42 adapter, allowing me to use my 85mm/1.8 SMC lens or the 50mm.14 SMC or even the 50mm/4 macro SMC on the FT. There is no need to buy overpriced PEN lenses.
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Old 02-29-2008   #15
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They are small, cute and the very best modern designs in their days (early sixties) - but some are horrible expensive...

Maybe they are overpriced indeed. I they were really 490,000 Pen F SLRs build, then there need to be a "gambling factor" on some prices, which will overcome in the next time (as with nearly all other camera systems in the last couple of years, which reduced to their true value according to present usability value and rareness - which means rareness in terms of hundreds or thousands, not tenthousands)

A M42 adapter is a great idea... use my 58/2 preset Takumar on my Pen FT would be pure joy (it is as small as a PEN lens), not to speak of the 100/1.8 Komura...

have fun

Last edited by Sonnar2 : 02-29-2008 at 05:40.
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Old 02-29-2008   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonnar2
I will look after it, but unfortunately the Pen 20/3.5 belongs to the species of lenses that cost more than it was new even with inflationary adjustment! (uncommon even with Leica glass)
Only Zuiko glasses do that! The 40mm for the OM is another example.

GLF
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Old 02-29-2008   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid
I have a FT with two lenses (38mm and 50-90) plus a M42 adapter, allowing me to use my 85mm/1.8 SMC lens or the 50mm.14 SMC or even the 50mm/4 macro SMC on the FT. There is no need to buy overpriced PEN lenses.
Raid, overpriced some of them may be, but each and everyone of my Pen-F Zuiko lenses are top-notch. To my eyes, they are the cream of the crop of even the overall great Zuiko family of lenses.

Besides, for me, I don't need anything outside a fast standard (40/1.4), a wideangle (25/2.8), and a telephoto (100/3.5). Those aren't terribly expensive.
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Old 02-29-2008   #18
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Will, the 25mm f2.8 is not very common, and can be hard to find. The f4 lens is found much more readily, in my experience. My f2.8 came from eBay but the seller's pics showed it to be filthy dirty. I took a chance that it was just surface dirt and got it at a low bid. It came with its leather case, and all the "dirt" was just dried glue powder from the case, and it cleaned up beautifully. Seller suffered for not taking a few minutes to clean it before taking his advertising pics...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Olympus Pen 25mm lens Front.jpg (37.1 KB, 77 views)
File Type: jpg Olympus Pen 25mm lens Side.jpg (32.8 KB, 58 views)
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Old 02-29-2008   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Raid, overpriced some of them may be, but each and everyone of my Pen-F Zuiko lenses are top-notch. To my eyes, they are the cream of the crop of even the overall great Zuiko family of lenses.

Besides, for me, I don't need anything outside a fast standard (40/1.4), a wideangle (25/2.8), and a telephoto (100/3.5). Those aren't terribly expensive.

Will,

I am just being jealous!
Of course, if I could find a couple additional PEN lenses at a good price, I may buy them.
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Old 02-29-2008   #20
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Doug: I got mine pretty cheap also, I guess when you're not obsessing for it, months went by and one will turn up eventually. Good for you on that lens.

Raid: You? jealous? I still can't forget the picture of your stable of Rollei SL35 and its lenses... oh... the envy...
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Old 02-29-2008   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Raid: You? jealous? I still can't forget the picture of your stable of Rollei SL35 and its lenses... oh... the envy...
Will: It's never enough. is it! Actually, I am rarely using the Pen FT these days, but I can envision its usefulness for a trip as a light alternate camera outfit.

With the M42 adapter, my 85mm/1.8 SMC lens is about a 135mm/1.8 or so. I am just guessing here, and someone will correct me how to correctly translate the 85mm from 135 format to the half frame format. The 50/1.4 is a tele with 1.4 max aperture and using the sweet spot of the lens.

I lack a wide angle lens for the Pen.
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Old 02-29-2008   #22
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I think wide angle lenses are the weakness of the Pen F system; there's not much selection, and they are slow. But then this is 1960's gear, and I think then we tended to look more favorably on longer-than-normal lenses. Whether the technology wasn't quite there for fast wides, or it was a lack of market, I don't know.

The various full-frame SLR lens adapters for the Pen F don't help much in the wide department either, as the angle of view "multiplier" is about 1.5, similar to your typical Nikon or Pentax dSLR, and so it suffers the same crop situation with wides.

The Zuiko 20mm f3.5 is a brilliant lens, seems to me, so that's all to the good! Sample below... (Kodak Portra 100UC)

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Old 02-29-2008   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
I almost forgot that you have one also, Roland
Would love to see a wide-open picture from the 1.2
Frank and Will: I searched a bit and don't have any !
I have shot quite a bit with the 42/1.2 but never wide open.
Back when I had Pen F gas all I was interested in was a bright viewfinder ...
Come Leicas, come bokeh .... I'll try on one of the next week-ends.

The 100mm in the pic above is one of the best lenses for the money:



(the guy was sprayed with water to cool down )

Cheers,

Roland.
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Old 02-29-2008   #24
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Nice, Roland! You had both the lens and an interesting moment to use it.
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Old 03-03-2008   #25
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Raid, I have the exact "problem" digitally with my E-300 which is a spirit-successor of the Pen-FT. The 2x crop factor is worse than the Pen-FT, leaving me with ample supply of super high-quality short-teles and virtually no wide angle lenses to speak of.

Doug and Roland, nice pictures from the lenses.

The 25/2.8 is currently my favorite, it compares nicely with my current focal length of choice: 35mm on full frame cameras.

Here's an example:

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Old 03-03-2008   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Raid, I have the exact "problem" digitally with my E-300 which is a spirit-successor of the Pen-FT. The 2x crop factor is worse than the Pen-FT, leaving me with ample supply of super high-quality short-teles and virtually no wide angle lenses to speak of.
I have the E-330 and find the 11-22 F2.8/3.5 quite all-right. No, not the best combo I have/had but ok.

GLF
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Old 02-19-2010   #27
Erik van Straten
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Olympus Pen FT, 38mm f/1,8, Tmax100.

Erik.

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Old 02-19-2010   #28
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These are nice, Erik.

For anyone looking for the 25/2.8, the bartender is selling one in the classifieds for $300. Personally I am holding out for the 20.

Self-portrait with Pen FT, trying to look as dreadful as possible with my black eye:



I keep debating whether I want to have mine de-metered and a better mirror installed...according to digitalintrigue, you can get an extra two stops of brightness this way. But it is nice to have the meter...
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Old 02-19-2010   #29
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The 20 is extremely sharp, worth looking for! I'm intrigued by the possibility of a shiny new mirror by digitalintrigue. I had the impression changing the partially silvered mirror was a difficult job; hard to get to. How much are they charging for the change?

But another approach to the brighter finder is going with the Pen FV instead of the FT; already no meter and fully-silvered mirror...

Edit: By the way, that FT meter is awkward to use, IMO, and I'm happy to ignore it and use an incident meter in-hand instead... except where a TTL meter is really useful.
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Old 02-19-2010   #30
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Or an F
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Old 02-19-2010   #31
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Well, an FT is what I have, and I think it's great! An FV is a rarity and thus more expensive.

I don't think Robert offers mirror replacement on Pens as part of his business--I think he just modified his own FT for his own use.
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Old 02-19-2010   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
The 20 is extremely sharp, worth looking for! I'm intrigued by the possibility of a shiny new mirror by digitalintrigue. I had the impression changing the partially silvered mirror was a difficult job; hard to get to. How much are they charging for the change?
.
It is a rather simple process once you know how to get the top off. If you have a source of front faced mirrors (an old slr maybe?) you can cut one yourself and install it. I've done it before.
When replacing, also clean the whole upper finder assembly from dust and get the black detoriating foam from around the eyepiece replaced or cleaned . Replacing the focussing screen is the almost impossible task!

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Old 02-19-2010   #33
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Thanks mabelsound!

Olympus Pen FT, 38mm f/1.8, Tmax100.

Erik.

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Old 02-19-2010   #34
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Quote:
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It is a rather simple process once you know how to get the top off. If you have a source of front faced mirrors (an old slr maybe?) you can cut one yourself and install it. I've done it before.
When replacing, also clean the whole upper finder assembly from dust and get the black detoriating foam from around the eyepiece replaced or cleaned .
A tutorial for this process would be welcome, if only in order to clean out the gunk.
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Old 02-19-2010   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
A tutorial for this process would be welcome, if only in order to clean out the gunk.
Seconded, I was casting about for one a few weeks ago and came up with nothing. I thought DigitalIntrigue was doing the FT mirror swap, but I sent him an e-mail a while ago through his new Wordpress site and didn't get a reply :-\
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Old 02-20-2010   #36
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A sensational little camera: so good I bought two!

Enjoy it in good health... and if anyone's interested, here's a Flickr gallery of photos I took with mine...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7592660...7610918668126/
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Old 02-20-2010   #37
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Olympus Pen FT, Zuiko 38mm f/1.8, Tmax100.

Erik.

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Old 02-20-2010   #38
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Erik, I love what you do with space in your photos. The subject is usually very small, but the space makes the picture great.
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Old 02-20-2010   #39
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Thanks mabelsound. The Pen FT's precision finder is excellent for composing, as is the 3:4 format.

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Old 02-21-2010   #40
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Olumpus Pen FT, Zuiko 38mm f/1.8, Tmax100.

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