Lately I’ve been obsessing on vintage Olympus PENs. You know, the ones that use FILM? About a month ago I managed to purchase one of the more sought after PENs, a PEN W from 1964. I found someone selling it online locally and, after running a test roll through it, I bought it for about $60, really cheap considering one of these babies just sold on Ebay for $450.
The test roll wasn’t too promising. All the shots came out fuzzy, mainly because of all the crud on the camera’s glass. I bought it on the hope that I could get this thing cleaned, lubricated and calibrated well enough for it to shoot decent shots at least. From the most excellent blog Manila Camera Style I found someone skilled enough to do the job. A couple of weeks later, and the beautifully refurbished Olympus PEN W was in my eager clutches.
The Olympus PEN W is one model among the full manual versions of the compact half frame series, which includes the original PEN and the PEN S. It was built and sold from September 1964 to May 1965, which accounts for its relative rarity. There is no onboard meter – you have to either estimate using your experience or bring along a light meter to measure for exposure. Total control over the aperture, speed and focus means you have to think before you shoot.
I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting much from the refurbishing – the lens and viewfinder were just too damn cloudy, so imagine my surprise when post-cleaning test shots came out like this:
Not bad for a 46-year old camera, eh? The lens is terribly sharp and captures colors that really pop out. Looks like I’m parking my Ricoh Auto Half on the shelf for the near future.
When I get around to it, I’ll shoot macro shots of the Olympus PEN W and a camera porn video and post them here. Be patient.