Designed by the highly regarded Maitani Yoshihisa (米谷美久) and released in 1963, the Olympus Pen F was the world’s first and only half-frame system single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. Following the release of the Pen F in 1963, came also the Pen FV in 1966, Pen FT in 1967, and the Pen F Microscope in 1969. The Pen F system was discontinued in 1972. The Olympus Pen F was a revolutionary camera packed with innovative features.
The following table summarises the different Pen F camera models released by Olympus.
|Camera Model||Year of Production||Production Volume||Body Finish||Integrated CDS Light Meter||Film Wind System||Self Timer||Mass in g|
Compared to the usual full-frame standard horizontal 35 mm format (36 × 24 mm) film, half-frame refers to a vertical film size of 18 x 24 mm. The Olympus Pen F system allows for double the amount of exposures to be taken on a standard roll of 35 mm film. For example, a standard roll of 35 mm 36 exposure film, provides 72 exposures. Similarly, a standard roll of 35 mm 24 exposure film, provides 48 exposures.
The Pen F cameras are extremely compact thanks to their porro-prism vertical finder, using a brilliantly implemented vertical mirror system. Compared to traditional horizontal viewfinder SLRs, this completely avoids the traditional SLR penta-prism bulge because the reflex mirror flips sideways, resulting in a compact vertical finder arrangement. It may surprise at first to use the vertical finder of the Pen F, but you soon get used to it.
One negative aspect is that the mirror systems are susceptible to haze and dirt. None of the Pen F camera finders are bright, but they are made worse by their susceptibility to haze and dirt. If you have a Pen F camera serviced, ensure to have its finder cleaned.
Combined speed with durability, the Pen F has a focal plane rotary titanium shutter that allows flash sync all the way up to 1/500th of a second. The Pen F was first camera to have a rotary titanium shutter, and was reportedly perfected only after long and hard effort by Olympus engineers.
The Pen F camera has a bayonet mount for a versatile range of 17 interchangeable lenses (see the table below). There is a release button and a depth of field preview button at the top of the lens close to the lens mount.
|E Zuiko Auto-Macro||38mm||f=3.5||5||4||43||55mm||0-4||15.6cm||43mm||200|
|D Zuiko Auto S||38mm||f=2.8||4||3||43||55mm||0-5||80cm||43mm||125|
|F Zuiko Auto S||38mm||f=2.8||5||4||43||55mm||0-5||80cm||43mm||70|
|G Zuiko Auto W||25mm||f=2.8||7||5||62||35mm||0-5||25cm||43mm||160|