Celebrating The Olympus Pen

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The Olympus Pen FT and Zuiko 38mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

With the release of the new Olympus Pen-F digital, I thought this would be a good time to celebrate the oldย Olympus Pen film series and the original “Digital Pen” the Olympus E-P1 ๐Ÿ™‚

Before we do that, just a few notes on the new Pen-F digital. It is a 20mp mirrorless camera in the Micro 4/3’s format. It has a built-in 5-axis image stabilizer in the body, much like the OM-D (which I love) series or the EP-5. 1080P HD Video. Nice touches include the electronic viewfinder (EVF), the 80/50mp (raw/jpeg) high-res mode, and customizable modes. There’s a lot more to it of course.

The funny thing is that when Olympus released the E-P1 in 2009, they marketed it as the new “Digital Pen” yet with this new Pen F, we are being told (as seen on the Dpreview video) that this is a whole new class of Pen cameras, and priced accordingly at $1199. Yeah, ok ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Decade Of Digital” From left, my first digital camera bought in 1999, the Olympus C-3000 Zoom and the Olympus E-P1 from 2009.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge Olympus fan going way back. I’m sure the new Pen F digital will be awesome and just on the specs alone, it looks to be 1000 times better than the original E-P1, but I probably won’t be getting one any time soon. Not now anyway. Price is an issue, yes. Don’t have, and don’t want to shell out that much for a Micro 4/3’s camera.

And nothing against Olympus, but coming from the old film school, while I love the new Pen’s retro looks, I just see it as a digital camera dressed up in a film camera’s suit. Much like the Fuji X series, Nikon DF, or any number of cameras riding on the retro wave. This has been an enormously successful formula for many companies and more power to them. While I love the way they look, I’m just not as easily pulled in by it.

In addition, it’s really hard for me to get excited about the latest and greatest these days. The truth of the matter is that most of the cameras from the last five years (and going back even further actually) have been extremely capable.

I may sound a little less than enthusiastic, but I’m still young enough to realize that whether it looks like a film camera or not, whether I like the retro looks or not, learn to love it because (and my fellow film fanatics might not like this) let’s face it…This IS the “Digital Era.” Film may be around for a long time, who knows. But the “Film Era” has passed and it will never be the film era again.

But if you got the dough for the new Pen F, I’m sure it’s going to be an awesome new toy for you!

If you want to see all the new Olympus cameras, you can do so right HERE which is an easy link to everything. You can also pre-order there or here Olympus PEN-F if you want to be among the first to get one. My favorite might be that “Faux Leather” OM-D EM10 II!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Below are some images from the Olympus Pen F and FT half-frame film cameras and the Olympus E-P1. I’ll dig up more if I can find them. I’ll keep shooting with these oldies until I can save enough for the new digital Pen F ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Order & Chaos” 2009. Olympus Pen FT, Zuiko 38mm /2.8 pancake lens, Tri-X. These two sequential frames from the half-frame Pen FT shows how order can turn into chaos in a minute if Grandma is babysittingย you ๐Ÿ™‚

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“On Life & Love” 2010. Olympus Pen F, Zuiko 100mm f/3.5, Tri-X. As in life, love grows like the weeds, is full of hope and promise, but eventually grows old like last week’s bouquet of roses ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Beauty & The Beast” 2009. Olympus Pen FT, Zuiko 38mm f/1.8, Tri-X. Both a little scared, neither one prepared, beauty and the beast ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Aging In a Digital World” 2010. Olympus E-P1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7

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“RGB” 2010. Olympus E-P1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7, Brooklyn, NYC.

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“Sex & Religion” 2010. Olympus E-P1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7, Atlantic City, NJ. You might not be able to see it, but there’s a gentlemen’s club on the left and a church on the right. I’m still trying to figure out why WordPress is not letting me post larger pics.

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“Digital Buddies” 2009. Olympus E-P1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH. Had a little fun with this oneย ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Best Camera I Never Knew Part I: The Rollei Rolleimatic

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We can’t always have winners…

In the first post of this series, I take a look at cameras that I have come across, which may or may not be Camera Legends, but somehow they didn’t work out for me.

I’m sure there are cameras that many of you have used, that you heard a lot (or a little) about, you wanted them, and eventually got them, but for some reason or another they didn’t live up to your expectations.

First up is…

THE ROLLEI ROLLEIMATIC

The Rolleimatic is a uniquely designed camera introduced by Rollei around 1980, I believe. It was designed by the famous camera designer Heinz Waaske.

The camera features a 38mm f/2.8 Tessar type lens lens and relies on scale focusing.

The camera’s claim to fame is a rather odd design where the “flap” that covers the lens also doubles as a film advance mechanism.

The camera looked very cool to me, certainly stands out among point and shoot cameras of its era. I love anything retro, so at under a hundred bucks, I had to give it a try. With the legendary Rollei name, you would think this would be an instant winner. However, for me, it wasn’t.

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME

Information on the Rolleimatic is scarce on the web. One great review I read was from a cool guy named Mike Elek, also a classic camera aficionado, and he stated that the camera is a little fidgety to load film.

Well, he was right and then some! I couldn’t get one roll of film to load in this camera! ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, so I thought…maybe there’s something I’m doing wrong. So I found the online manual, I tried and retried, and retried…couldn’t get a damn roll to stick in this camera.

Sometimes, I would get close and it would latch on for like two winds, then the film came loose and I’d have to start over again.

The problem is there is no “slit” in the film take-up like other cameras. Instead there is a “film like thingy” in there that you’re supposed to hook the film up to. I should’ve taken a picture of it, but the best way I could describe it is that the part looks like a piece of 35mm film, but stronger, and is removable. It has “teeth” that is wrapped around the film advance roller and you’re supposed to get your film under the “teeth.” Well, that I did, but it still didn’t work!

Being that he was the only person who seemed to know anything about this camera, I emailed Mike and he was kind enough to write me back. He even made a YouTube video to show how to load the film, what a good guy!

Anyway, despite all his help, I couldn’t do it. Maybe something was wrong with my particular camera.

The camera looked awesome cool, but all it gave me was a headache ๐Ÿ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

The camera was sent back for a refund. I’ve been using film for more than thirty years, this was the first camera that I couldn’t load. I’m convinced that it was the ‘funkiness’ of the design ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr. Waaske, God Rest His Soul, was a brilliant and creative camera designer. A Legend. I have nothing, but respect for his creations. However, sometimes being too creative might not be such a good thing.

If hunting for one of these, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $50-160. So they are not expensive, but they do seem scarce.

The Rolleimatic is one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew. But it is not alone. There will be more to come ๐Ÿ™‚