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The Olympus Pen F Half Frame Camera System

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 ModelYear of ProductionProduction VolumeBody FinishIntegrated CDS Light MeterFilm Wind SystemSelf TimerMass in g
F1963-1966190,000ChromeNoDouble strokeN425
FT1966-1972275,000Chrome
Black
YesSingle strokeY465
FV1967-197045,000ChromeYesSingle strokeYTBD
Micro1969TBDChromeTBDSingle strokeNTBD

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.

Olympus Pen F Series Interchangable Lens Chart
Interchangable Lenses
Lens Components
Angle of View
35mm Length Equivelent
Through the lens number
Minimum Distance
Filter Size
Mass in g
Type
Model
Length
Speed
Elements
Groups
Standard
H Zuiko Auto S
42mm
f=1.2
8
6
39
60mm
0-6
35cm
49mm
255
G Zuiko Auto S
40mm
f=1.4
7
6
41
58mm
0-6
35cm
43mm
165
F Zuiko Auto S
38mm
f=1.8
6
5
43
55mm
0-6
35cm
43mm
135
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
Wide Angle
E Zuiko Auto W
25mm
f=4.0
5
5
62
35mm
0-4
25cm
43mm
120
G Zuiko Auto W 25mm f=2.8 7 5 62 35mm 0-5 25cm 43mm 160
G Zuiko Auto W
20mm
f=3.5
7
6
73
28mm
0-4
20cm
43mm
145
Telephoto
G Zuiko Auto T
60mm
f=1.5
7
5
28
85mm
0-6
80cm
49mm
270
F Zuiko Auto T
70mm
f=2.0
6
5
24
100mm
0.5-7
80cm
43mm
230
E Zuiko Auto T
100mm
f=3.5
5
4
17
143mm
1-6
150cm
43mm
250
E Zuiko Auto T
150mm
f=4.0
5
4
12
210mm
1-5
1.7m
49mm
380
E Zuiko Auto T
250mm
f=5.0
5
3
7
360mm
1-6
3.5m
58mm
800
Super-Tele
Zuiko Mirror T
800mm
f=8.0
6
5
2
1,150mm
(0)
15m
25.5mm
2,000
Zoom
Zuiko Auto Zoom
50-90mm
f=3.5
10
8
34-19
70-130mm
0.5-4
1.5m
49mm
420
Zuiko Auto Zoom
100-200mm
f=5.0
12
9
17-9
143-286mm
1-6
1.7m
49mm
700