Olympus Pen EES-2: Second Try

At the end of November, I got an Olympus Pen EES-2 camera. It was a great little shooter, and I became enamored with the world of half-frame 35mm cameras. But that camera was short-lived. After three rolls the aperture wasn’t moving anymore. I’d either need a “spare-parts” camera to fix it, or I needed to move on and find another working specimen.

I pondered what to do next. I thought about finding a nicer model Olympus half-frame camera, something like either the Pen F or D series. The Pen-F series SLR cameras are amazing machines, but a bit too pricey. I aimed instead for the Pen-D series. These are basically a rangefinder-style camera with uncoupled meter and zone focus instead of a rangefinder. These ones come up cheaper than the F series models, but they still aren’t cheap. I found one on eBay that was being sold from the US. This was a big deal, as pretty much all the other ones I saw were from Japan. It started at a low price, so I put a bid on it. I was winning until of course at the last minute when someone sniped me. My max bid was $62 (it was untested, so I didn’t want to go any higher, even if it was returnable) and the winning bid was $103. Yikes. So much for that route.

Alright, back to the EES-2. As luck would have it, Blue Moon Camera had a parts Pen EES-2 for cheap. I picked that up on my last trip there, with the hope of getting the original camera repaired. But around the same time, a “working” Pen EES-2 came up on eBay for a reasonable price. I was hesitant at first, as the last “working” Pen EES-2 I got to replace the broken one was not. The red flag on that one didn’t come up in low light, a tell-tale sign that the meter wasn’t functioning correctly. But this other one I was looking at was also returnable, so I decided to give it one more shot.

The replacement EES-2 arrived on the same Saturday I picked up the “parts” one. I gave it a check-over: The aperture definitely worked, and it appeared to be metering OK. I put a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 through it and brought it with me for a few days, shooting when I could. I dropped off the completed roll at Citizens Photo and crossed my fingers.

The pictures came back on February 2nd. And yes, the camera works fine! The pictures came out great. I love that D.Zuiko lens on the EES-2. The focus seemed to work. And no light leaks either. (I was a bit worried as the seals looked a bit worn.) The only issue was the rewind button, which wasn’t working correctly. I gave the camera to Citizens for them to open in a dark bag, as I couldn’t get the film rewound. That’s okay. Since I finally found a functional one, I dropped it off at the camera shop last week to get the repair and an overall CLA (clean, lube, adjust). It took a bit of work finding a functional half-frame camera, so might as well have it in tip-top shape.

And the saga of the Olympus Pen EES-2 is over for now. If I didn’t like the idea of half-frame cameras, I probably wouldn’t have gone through so much trouble. But the price of old cameras keeps on going up, and the stock gets scarcer. At least I now have a stable of good cameras that I enjoy using, so the hunt for other 35mm cameras is on hold for now. And if this one goes south, I still have the two “parts” EES-2s that can be Frankenstein’d together. Hopefully I won’t need to do that for awhile!

For photos from the “new” Olympus Pen EES-2 camera, see the dynamic flickr album below. Or, click here.

Trunk texture. 25 Jan 2021
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