OLYMPUS PEN F CAMERAS


Many think that the Pen F series of cameras is the pinnacle of the half-frame format. In many ways they are right. The Pen F's were the first half-frame SLR's. They introduced many revolutionary features to the photographic world and their popularity convinced all camera manufacturers to make smaller cameras, no matter what the format or camera type.

With the introduction of the Pen F in 1963 (until 1966) Olympus introduced the smallest and lightest, readily-available SLR in the world. (The Russian Narciss 16mm SLR was introduced in 1960)  It had a porro prism which avoided the common pentaprism bump on the top of all other SLRs. It also had various interchangeable lens and a unique metal, rotary shutter which allows flash synch at all speeds.  After each exposure, the "film-advance" lever was used twice -- once to advance the film and again to cock the shutter.  An accessory meter slipped onto the front of the camera (over the shutter speed dial) for non-TTL-metering.

In 1966 (until 1972) Olympus upgraded the Pen F with the Pen FT camera. This added several new features, but most importantly was a behind the lens CDS meter and flash synch. To achieve TTL metering a half-silvered mirror was used.  This allowed for more convenience, but resulted in a dimmer view of the subject.   A new series of lenses was introduced to take advantage of the TTL capabilities of the camera.  

In 1967 (until 1970) Olympus also produced the Pen FV. This was the same as the Pen FT, but with the meter removed. Not only did this reduce the price of the camera, but it increased the brightness of the viewfinder, since the meter in the Pen FT, was behind a mirror, which removed some of the light from the viewfinder.

Another model, is the rare microscope model of the Pen F and FT, which has a special screen for this purpose.

The cameras have a bayonet "Pen" mount and had several available lenses from Olympus and other, independent lens manufacturers. Olympus manufactured the following lenses: 20mm f3.5, 25mm f2.8, 25mm f4.0, 38mm f3.5 macro, 38mm f2.8 (sometimes called the pancake), 38mm f1.8, 40mm f1.4, 40mm f1.2, 60mm f1.5, 70mm f2.0, 100mm f3.5, 150mm f4.0, 250mm f5.0, 400mm f6.3, 800mm f8 mirror, 50-90mm f3.5 zoom, 100-200mm f5.0 zoom. (see complete list below)  There were even additional lenes made by independent lenses manufacturers with the Pen mount.

The list of available lenses was expanded substantially by Olympus Pen F adapters.  These allowed lenses from other manufacurers to be directly used on the Pen F-series cameras. Olympus made Canon (FD), Nikon (F), Exacta, Leica (39mm screw), Minolta (MC), Standard Olympus (OM) and Universal-Practica-Pentax (42mm screw) adapters. There are also Tamron Adaptall, T and T2 mount adapters, and tele-converters available. So the list of useable lenses is endless -- although they will not couple to the Pen FT metering system and will not support automatic apertures.

Olympus also made a wide variety of accessory equipment for the Pen's. The close-up equipment was particularly impressive: various close-up (supplementary) lenses, extension tubes, bellows, focusing rail, slide copier, microscope adapter, endoscope adapter, copy stands, and eyepiece adapters/magnifiers.



Pen lenses came in two styles -- the Pen F and the Pen FT.  Not all lenses were available in each series.  The series were the same except that the FT lenses were designed to work with the Pen FT's metering system.  This system was unique in that it was not based on f-stops, but rather a similar system of numbers (from 0 through 8) that Olympus felt would be easier for users to understand.  The Pen F lenses just had f-stops, while the Pen FT lenses had an ring with f-stops on one side and o-stops on the other side (Olympus calls these "Through-the-Lens" numbers).  The ring can be rotated so that you can use whichever scale you prefer.  The meter in the FT gives a readout in o-stops which is not any help with the older F lenses.

OLYMPUS PEN F/FT LENSES
LENS f-STOPS ELEMENTS GROUPS ANGLE FILTER MINIMUM FOCUS

20mm

3.5-16

7

6

73

43

8"

25mm

2.8-18

7

5

62

43

10"

25mm

4.0-16

5

5

62

43

10"

38mm

1.8-16

6

5

43

43

14"

38mm

2.8-16

5

4

43

43

31"

38mm

3.5-22

5

4

43

43

6"

40mm

1.4-16

7

6

41

43

14"

42mm

1.2-16

8

6

39

49

14"

50-90mm

3.5-16

10

8

34-19

49

59" (5')

60mm

1.5-16

7

5

28

49

31"

70mm

2.0-22

6

5

24

43

31"

100mm

3.5-22

5

4

17

43

59" (5')

100-200mm

5.0-32

12

9

17-9

49

67" (6')

150mm

4.0-22

5

4

12

49

67" (6')

250mm

5.0-32

5

3

7

58

138" (12')

400mm

6.3-32

5

4

4

72

197" (16')

800mm

8.0

5

5

2

25.5

630" (52')

Olympus also made an enlarging lens for the series, but was useable with any half-frame image.  The Olympus F. Zuiko E f 2.8 38mm enlarging lens is in standard Leica mount and has a preset diaphragm system with stops from 2.8 - 16.


To find out how to obtain a more complete list of half frame cameras, check out the Swap Meet.

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