It was a little over a month ago that I received my Olympus Pen EES-2. I was intrigued by the concept of a half-frame camera, where each image is half the size you would get with a “full-frame” 35 mm camera, meaning you get double the shots on a roll. The EES-2 seemed like a good contender: auto exposure, zone focus, basically a Trip 35 in half-frame format. I got it cheap because there was impact damage around the lens. But that meant that the aperture was not acting correctly. I brought it to the camera shop, and a quick fix got it working again.
I shot three rolls with the Pen EES-2. It was fun and easy to use, a camera that you didn’t have to think too much about. And since it’s “double the exposures” on the roll, I didn’t have to be so miserly in taking pictures. I was looking forward to this camera as being a part of my stable.
But that was not to be. The first two rolls were fine, but by the third roll I noticed that the aperture wasn’t working correctly all the time. Playing with the aperture ring got it working okay again, but by the end of the roll the aperture was stuck and no amount of playing with it freed it up. I brought it back to the camera shop and the tech told me that the thin brass ring that controlled the aperture was warped, and a repair could be costly and still not make it work right.
This left me with a quandary. On one level I did really like this camera and would like to see it work again. And I already spent money on repairs. But without something like a donor camera for repairs, any other fixes the shop does will be band-aids, expensive ones at that. And while the selenium meter is working now, there’s no guarantee it could keep working. This camera has no real manual exposure method, so without a meter, it’s useless. So would I want to sink more money into a camera that may give up the ghost in a year no matter what?
So the camera is going to sit on the shelf, for now. I’d really like to get something to replace it. I had fun with the half-frame format. I envision it as a great companion on a bike tour, where being able to get double the shots from a roll of film would be advantageous. But the pickings are slim. I already got one “working” example from eBay, and nope, it wasn’t. Thankfully I could return it. But there’s plenty more “untested” ones out there that are more expensive than what I’ve already paid, and don’t accept returns. I’m not a rich man and don’t feel like wasting more of my money.
Then there’s still the issue of the selenium cell: even if I find one that is working, who knows how long it will stay that way? I should probably look at a different Olympus Pen, one that has manual exposure control. The cameras of the D series have sharp f/1.9 or 1.7 lenses and uncoupled meters, so that would be a good way to go. The problem is that most of the ones I’ve seen on eBay come from Japan, so shipping will be expensive and it could take a long time for me to receive it. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out, and look forlornly at the old Olympus Pen EES-2…
For successful shots I got from the Olympus Pen EES-2, please see the dynamic flickr album below or click here.