Olympus PEN EE-2 Update – Fixed for Good ?

Earlier this year I got my hands on an Olympus PEN EE-2 half frame compact. I took an instant love to the camera and rushed out a 1 roll review

Papa's got a Brand new Half Frame bag
Olympus PEN EE-2 half-frame 35mm camera

But how is it bedding in and does it still deserve the raving I gave it.My earlier review detailed the specs of this  35mm half frame camera with a zuiko 28mm 1:3.5 lens so I’ll not dwell on that here. Since then I’ve mainly been shooting B&W film with it and it is still a joy although there are some qualifications

Half Frame Nith I
River Nith 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Kodak BW400CN

In good conditions it proves to be scarily sharp and is a joy to use. You’ll end up shooting most shoots in portrait mode given the camera feels more natural. The fact that it is fixed focus isn’t  huge issue here. Even shots of landscape are pretty good as you can see above.

Blow up
OLympus PEN EE-2 with Ilford XP2

However in good weather you’ll be shooting at f/ll or better. Given the camera set up below EV 11 (100  ASA), the camera will start to get seriously wide in aperture assuming the metering system works the same as the Olympus Trip 35. The issue is as your aperture widens the depth of field (DoF) decreases. Depth of field determines how much in front and behind  the focal point appears to be in focus. So whilst a small depth of field allows someone with a SLR to focus on say a single object like a flower but make the foreground and background fuzzy it starts to be an issue for a camera that has a fixed focal point.

a cuddle with mother
Low light shot with Olympus PEN EE-2 with Ilford XP2. 2015

I’d guess that focal point is somewhere around 3-4 meters away (this is based on others views, my own experience and the fact the Trip and most other zone or scale focus compacts usually marked the 3 meter setting as the if in doubt setting). Shots are actually okay at that range as you can see above but poorer beyond. So if you want to shoot in low light something with adjustable focus will be more useful. You’re also more likely to get shake below EV13 at 100asa as the shutter will be at 1/40.

Dogs and Rumage I
Dumfries 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Kodak BW400CN

That aside exposure is generally pretty accurate in most circumstances.  Like many compacts can get a slight over expose in very bright conditions but again this isn’t untypical. Worth noting the lens is almost a stop slower than the trip which again limits its use in really low light. Like the trip snap the camera into flash mode with the widest aperture setting to chance a shot if the automatic metering is locking out. The camera specs like a Olympus trip 35 as well which does mean you get pluses like cable thread support but you also unfortunately have Olympus’s odd 43.5mm filter thread (Tripman does sell filters fairly reasonably or have a look on eBay)

Half tide
Kingholm 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with Kodak BW400CN

Overall this is a pretty nifty compact and incredibly easy to use and get very good results in most conditions. Shotwise half frame cameras are wee gems to the canny cameraman. You’ll get 72+ shots off a 36exp roll and the film can be processed and scanned even by a supermarket photo lab. But you do need to keep in mind the frame size. A lot of my stuff gets done by the nice ladies at ASDA in Carlisle. With a full frame camera I’ll get back a 1840×1232 image (yup a  2.2 MP image by modern standards). That’ll blow up to 7×5″ without too much fuss if I ever want to print. But that’s the same scan size for 2 half frame photos (+ bar in between).  Obviously you can scan yourself to  a high-resolution or use a more profession lab like AG-photolab  in Birmingham who offer a choice of scan sizes

14 thoughts on “Olympus PEN EE-2 Update – Fixed for Good ?”

  1. Terrific photos! Love seeing what a camera like this can do in the hands of a talented photographer.
    I’m looking for some advice – I have both a Trip 35 and a Pen EE-2, and I’m trying to decide which one to take on vacation with me next month (California roadtrip and NYC). Tossing up between the higher quality of the Trip and the smaller, more convenient size (and more economical use of film) of the Pen. Any thoughts? Will mostly be taking landscape/street shots, along with anything quirky that catches my eye), rather than pictures of people.

    1. Oh that’s a hard choice. I’m assuming both are in good functional nick. I probably pick up the EE-2 more than my Trip 35. For mid-range targets at the EE-2 focal sweet spot I get pretty good results. The trip is a better option for lower light or if you plan on doing landscape shots. The EE-2 in good light is not bad at dustance but the fuller frame and focusing of the Trip gives it an edge and it hold up much better as the light fails.

      The PEN obviously doubles your shot per film and is that bit neater so may be easier for street shooting.

      If you haven’t invest in a K2 yellow or similar for B&W. Both cameras have the same unique (aka less common) Olympus thread. Turn up on EBay or you can buy from tripman. Good for skies even with C-41 B&W

      1. Thanks for the advice! Good points. I think the only instance where the Trip would have the edge is when I’m in Yosemite. But for overall convenience, I think I’ll just pack the Pen.

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