Half-Frame Fun

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Back in November, after one of my frequent claims that I’m taking a break from buying any new cameras, I bought an Olympus Pen-EE 35mm camera. I justified buying this because it is categorically different than any of the cameras I already owned. The Pen-EE is a half-frame camera, meaning that each frame is half as wide as a regular frame. Therefore, the number of shots you can take is doubled.

The Pen-EE is a sleek little camera from the early 1960s. It features a selenium meter around the front lens which means you can take a light reading without batteries. I’m a little baffled by the science of this but glad it works.

It’s a point-and-shoot camera so you don’t have any control over anything but that’s not where the fun resides.

The real fun of a half-frame camera is the film gets developed as if it were a standard size. You get two pictures to a frame. With my first roll (Fuji Color 200), I started out trying to think about what the two images would be, but I quickly decided it would be better to let serendipity play a roll. I stopped thinking and just started shooting.

A handful of photos didn’t really turn out. The minimum focusing distance seems significant as anything closer than a couple of feet was out of focus. One problem with a half-frame camera is if one of the two images is bad, it pretty much ruins the partner photo as well unless you take the time to crop them apart.

Eager to try out the Olympus Pen-EE, I brought it to work one day and took photos around Temple University’s campus.

Click on any image to open the gallery which may provide a better experience of the half-frame images.

On another day, I went out shortly after Christmas to take more photos around Philadelphia.

Again, I certainly enjoyed the serendipity of which images ended up together. And, for some reason, I wound up with an odd number of shots and the last shot paired with absolute black which was a surprise.

Finally, I brought the Olympus Pen-EE with me when Holly and I went with my brother to the Kimmel Center for a Christmas concert by the Philly Pops. I didn’t take any photos of the concert itself but did take a few of the inside of the Kimmel Center.

I need to learn how to take better pictures with the Olympus Pen-EE. It certainly performed better in brighter light, and there seems to be a sweet spot for the focusing distance between not too close and not too far.

My only real complaint is that I had to wait to take 72 pictures before seeing the results! Now that I have seen the first roll, I may be able to be more patient with the next one.

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