Gear: Olympus PEN EE-2 (Zuiko 28mm f3.5)
Film: Fuji Industrial 100
Dev + scan: Rewind Lab, Glebe
Shooting location: Sydney, Australia
The Olympus PEN EE-2 is a classic point and shoot by Olympus from the 60s through to late 70s. The EE series, first introduced in 1961, was a series of true "point and shoots" that featured fixed-focusing, auto exposure via selenium meter that surrounds the lens and shoots in half-frame format! This was a camera made for the "visual journal" type of style photos, designed to let you think very little about the camera settings and just simply snap away.
This fully mechanical point and shoot feels very different to what you would expect from an electrical point and shoot. It gives you the absolute bare minimum of features, in this case, really no features you need to adjust at all! Film winding is done via a manual thumb winder, and the camera itself makes close to no noise when shooting.
I had no specific intentions for my first roll with the PEN EE-2, I kind of just channelled the "visual journal" idea and tested its abilities on a weekday afternoon in Sydney CBD. Here is my first roll with the PEN EE-2 and some tips I would give to take full advantage of this small but mighty camera!
1) Beware of your focusing distance.
The PEN EE-2 is not a camera for beautiful close-ups or portraits, although it's easy to get carried away and forget because of its fixed-focus feature. Focusing too close, your shot will most likely be blurry. I couldn't find any info on the minimum focusing distance, but 1 meter away from your subject is usually a good rule of thumb. Anything beyond that, with good lighting, turns out pretty impressively sharp.
2) Good light vs. bad light
The PEN EE-2 performs best in environments with sufficient lighting. Most likely due to its limited two shutter speed setting at 1/40 and 1/200 which is automatically selected depending on the meter reading. Of course, even in low light the EE-2 doesn't perform horribly, but it's definitely on the grainier side and not the same sharpness. Because of the selenium meter, the EE-2 reads light as a whole, so out of my first roll, the best results and sharpness definitely came from the sunnier environments that was overall well-lit.
3) The Small but Mighty Street Shooter!
I grew to love shooting the PEN EE-2. At first, I wasn't really feeling the lack of control or the automation that I was so used to in electronic point and shoots. It felt I was simply winding and pressing a button with no agenda. It wasn't until I took the PEN EE-2 to the streets that I really fell in love with shooting with it. This small camera is extremely discreet when it comes to street photography -- channel your inner documentary style photographer and immerse yourself in the finer details of life and people.
Because of the half-frame feature which essentially doubles your roll of film, you are given a whole lot of creative freedom to snap away. I took a lot of shots while walking past people, crossing roads and could hold the camera up to people's faces without looking through the viewfinder and take my shot without people noticing. Can't say I can do that with any other cameras I've tried in the past! With the PEN EE2 I was able to document a lot more than I was normally able to or comfortable with shooting, and that was a lot of fun.
Beware of walking too fast or shaky hands though, as your photos will get blurry. Although I didn't mind the minor blurriness that showed movement of people.
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