Vintage camera collection – Olympus Pen EE-2

This is a pocket size half frame 35mm camera which I’ve owned for quite a long time but only recently got round to looking at. In fact, although it was described as being in ‘good condition’, when I received it I found the front lens assembly was unscrewed, the shutter didn’t work and the aperture blades were frozen.

This weekend however, I was sorting through some of my boxes of camera bits and pieces and I rediscovered it in it’s very worn leather pouch and decided to see what was wrong with it.

The first thing to do was fit the screws holding the lens unit to the camera body. These are located in the film chamber and as can be seen from the pictures above, I couldn’t find enough of the right size to fit. They should ideally be matt black in colour but I could only find 3 chrome screws of the right size so I fitted them for the moment to get the lens in place. Once they were in the shutter button started to work as well so that was two fixes in one go.

Next I looked at the aperture and why it wouldn’t stop down. At first I though it might be because the selenium cell was too old to supply any current, but after I took the top lid off the camera I could see that the meter needle was responding to light and when the shutter button was pressed the mechanism which rises and ‘traps’ the meter needle also worked.

For a while I couldn’t see why the aperture blades wouldn’t work and assumed they must just be stuck with dirt and old grease. Sure enough, when I got a pair of tweezers and pulled on the lever which I guessed must operate the aperture, I found the blades opened, and from then on the aperture has responded properly to light.

The two remaining problems are that the light seals need replacing (which is true of almost all vintage cameras), and the red low light warning flag and shutter lock doesn’t seem to be working. That could also be to do with dirt and grease, so I will probably need to do some more cleaning work later.

I think I paid about £8 for this camera about 18 months ago. For a while they seemed to go up in price and were fetching quite high prices, but that seems to have subsided a bit now and they are back down to around £10 – £15 for a working unit.

Olympus Pen-EE2 Description.

As I said in the opening sentence of this post this camera is a half frame camera, meaning that the negative produced is 24mm x 18mm rather than the usual 24mm x 36mm. That is to say in the space of a normal full frame 35mm negative this camera will fit two negatives. The negatives produces are portrait orientation rather than the usual landscape orientation, so to take a landscape picture the camera needs to be held upright. This was done to enable more pictures to be taken on a roll of film, so for a 24 exposure roll you will get up to 48 pictures and a 36 exposure roll will give 72 pictures.

The camera is incredibly small and easy to operate. There are no batteries and to use the camera in automatic mode is simply a question of setting the film speed on the dial which surrounds the lens. Once that is done the camera is all set up to go – there is no focus adjustment because the camera is designed to keep everything from about 1.5 meters to infinity in focus. The exposure setting will be automatic, and there is a red flag and shutter lock which stops you taking pictures if there isn’t enough light (not working on my copy).

There is a manual setting available for the lens aperture, which is on the same dial as the film speed, but on the opposite side. I read the handbook for the camera and it suggested that the exposure was still fully automatic when the aperture is selected in this way, but I don’t think that is true. There are only two shutter speeds available, 1/40sec and 1/200 sec so I can’t see there is enough range to cover f/3.5 to f/22 and any light range. I think in fact, the aperture settings are for use with a flash gun.

All in all this is quite nice now it had been mostly repaired.

  • Olympus Pen EE-2 half frame 35mm viewfinder camera
  • 1/40 & 1/200 shutter speed automatically selected
  • Automatic exposure
  • Light cell fitted round the lens
  • Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 lens
  • Hot shoe with x sync + x sync socket
  • Tripod mount on base
  • ISO range 25-400
  • Bright viewfinder with framing lines
  • Portrait orientation pictures
  • Ser No: 3136144

 

 

3 thoughts on “Vintage camera collection – Olympus Pen EE-2

  1. Hey, nice description! Can I ask you the size of the four screws (the three you actually found) holding the lens unit to the camera body? I just acquired a similar camera and they are missing. Thanks!

  2. Hey, nice and useful description! Can I ask you the size of the four screws (the three you actually found) holding the lens unit to the camera body? I just acquired a similar camera and they are missing. Thanks!

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