Olympus Pen FT Half Frame Camera

I first discovered this camera when I was reading the Tokyo Camera Style book by John Sypal.

I initially fell in love with the design of the camera but was also very intrigued when I discovered on the internet that it’s a half frame camera.

Half frame camera’s were popular before I was born so I wasn’t sure what this type of camera was.

After further research I discovered that a half frame camera uses twice as many frames at half the normal frame width on a 35mm negative to an ordinary film camera. For instance, if I loaded this camera with a 36 exposure film, I would be able to get 72 images instead of 36. This was because developing pictures back in the 1950s/60s was quite expensive so this was a great way to get twice as many photos developed for the same price. As development of photos got cheaper in subsequent years, the half frame camera became less popular.

I found this highly fascinating and immediately knew I would love to add a half frame camera to my collection.

After further research I found lots of half frame cameras had been released into the market over the years. Initially Olympus had released the Olympus Pen F camera and some of these camera’s have a cool F design on the front of the camera (like the lens cap design in my picture) but these didn’t include a self timer. Olympus also released other types of half frame camera’s as well as these Pen SLR camera’s.

I also discovered that Canon released a half frame version too. In the end I decided that the Olympus Pen FT was the camera I really wanted to own and use. The main reason being that it had a self-timer.

Unfortunately my local second hand camera shops didn’t have any in stock and although they’re not rare, they are not as readily available as perhaps an Olympus Trip 35 and they also come at a higher price tag.

I’d already decided that I was willing to pay more for a nicer condition one as I prefer to have my cameras in great condition, especially if I’m going to use them regularly.

Initially I found that most of these cameras are available for sale on eBay but are mainly for sale in Japan. Ideally I wanted to purchase mine from a UK seller so knew I had to be patient as they are few and far between.

After several months of searching and checking in with my local second hand camera shops to see if they miraculously had one come into their shop I finally found the one I wanted on Etsy.

I bought it from a gentleman in Scotland who is a professional photographer and refurbishes vintage camera’s as a hobby. He mainly finds his vintage camera’s in charity shops and he told me a lot of them are a complete write off and beyond repair but every now and again, he’ll find a camera in amazing condition or which he’s able to easily repair and cosmetically it’s in great condition.

This camera was one he had discovered in immaculate condition and only needed some slight refurbishment. He had personally owned the camera for over a year but found due to other photography commitments, it wasn’t getting the use it truly deserved so reluctantly he decided to sell it.

The camera came with it’s original leather case and the Zuiko 40mm f1.4 lens. The Olympus Pen FT camera was in production from 1966 to 1972 and what I loved even more was that the camera came with the original receipt which showed that it was purchased on 11th June 1972 and written on the receipt was the serial number of the camera and the serial number of the lens which matched my camera and lens.

The shutter speeds on this camera are B/1 to 1/500 and it has a unique rotating disc design that syncs with the flash at all speeds. The aperture is from f1.4 to f16. It has a light meter reading in the viewfinder which is numbered with a needle rather than a needle which you aim to point to the centre which I found unusual but was easy to understand. Basically the needle in the viewfinder will point to a number (ranging from 0 – 7) and you’ll match the number on front of the lens to make sure you get the right exposure. You can adjust the shutter speed to change this number if you need to.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I received and started using this camera. It’s an SLR and has interchangeable lenses. I also loved the half frame viewfinder and how I had to think a bit differently when shooting an image in comparison to taking pictures with a normal camera.

It’s a much smaller camera in comparison to my Pentax K1000 so I can literally pop it into my handbag which is great.

Here are some photos I’ve taken using the 40mm lens. I took the film for development to my local film development shop called Colourstream in Brighton. They told me they could only develop the film on a normal frame width which means that there would be two photos on the frame with a black border. They also informed me that the exposure would be a compromise between the two images rather than each individual one.

I was keen to get my first film developed asap so was happy for them to develop the film this way and was interested to see how two photos would turn out printed together.

Here are some of the results which I shot on a Kodak Colour Plus 200 (36 exposure) film:

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I also experimented using the self-timer which was great fun. However, one of my friends who is a photographer and has a lot of knowledge on vintage camera’s since informed me that I was taking a great risk in using the self-timer option as vintage camera’s are notorious for having the mechanics of the camera break on you if you use this because they are old and fragile. I therefore haven’t risked using it anymore but below is an image on the left where I used the self-timer:

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Olympus Trip 35

I was first made aware of this camera when I was recently in my local second hand camera shop and a young guy popped into the shop and put this model of camera on their counter asking if they had a case for it.

The chrome and black, accompanied with the really cool style lens really caught my eye and it helped having Olympus Trip 35 written on it so I knew I could do some more research about the camera online once I got home.

I found that it’s a 35mm compact film camera (which means it doesn’t have interchangeable lenses) and was produced from 1967 (hence the cool design) until 1984. I also discovered that David Bailey had promoted the camera in some adverts during the 1970s so couldn’t help but take a look at these on youtube.

I am too young to remember this camera originally but I can imagine it was a great travel camera back in it’s day.

I had been after a compact film camera to accompany my Pentax K1000 for times when I needed something a bit more lightweight and compact to take film photos with so I knew this was the camera for me.

After further research I found that two types of shutter button had been produced on this camera. The first was the chrome shutter button which later changed to a black shutter button.

I immediately decided that I wanted an Olympus Trip 35 with a chrome shutter button as I personally preferred how that looked overall on the camera.

These cameras are very common (because so many were produced) so they are very easy to get hold of. They can also be bought quite cheaply from £5, with the price increasing with older models and if they’ve recently been refurbished.

Within an initial enquiry to all my local second hand camera shops, they all had one in stock but unfortunately all with the black plastic shutter button.

In the end I purchased mine on eBay for less than £40. It came with the case, original instruction manual and a miniature flash (which still works!) so I was really happy with my purchase.

The only slight flaw with the camera (hence why I think it wasn’t for sale at a higher price of around £70-£80) was that the light seals needed replacing. I wasn’t put off doing this myself as I found a website http://www.cameramill.co.uk/product/olympus-trip-35-light-seal-kit/ where I could purchase a light seal kit for £4.20

This website also provides two lots of the kit (in case of any mistakes) and instructions about how to remove the original light seals and fit the new ones. I found it really easy to replace the old light seals and my camera works great.

The camera overall is automatic and by that I mean that you turn the lens to single person, group of people or landscape mode to take a picture. It takes some practice to make sure your standing at the correct distance for each of these modes so your picture doesn’t come out blurry. There are also aperture numbers for you to choose from if you add a flash to your camera that you would pick instead.

If you’re not using the flash, the camera requires well lit conditions to work as it is has a solar-powered selenium light meter. The shutter will not fire if it’s too dark and a red flag will show in the viewfinder to confirm this is why the camera won’t work.

Overall this camera is great for a simple point and shoot camera without having to put too much thought into taking the picture. I can see why it had ‘Trip’ in the title as I can imagine it’s a great travel camera.

When I got my first roll of film developed I was amazed at the quality and sharpness of the photos. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting great photos because of the camera’s simplicity but it clearly has a really good lens.

I discovered online that this camera is very popular and there is a little cult following for this camera. There is a great website http://www.tripman.co.uk who is dedicated to the Olympus Trip 35 camera and you can buy refurbished camera’s through them too.

Here are some photos I’ve currently taken on my trip:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentax K1000

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In previous posts I mentioned that my Zeiss-Ikon camera no longer worked and I needed to find a replacement.

After much research I finally decided on the Pentax K1000 SLR camera. I know that I wanted an SLR 35mm camera and I also knew that I wanted it to be as manual as possible so I could learn the basics of photography on it.

There is plenty of information on the internet regarding this camera and I heard from people I had spoken to that it was a good ‘student camera’ to learn on. I had also read that it is a good robust quality camera.

This camera has a shutter speed of 1 /1000th to 1 second and a centre-needle metering in the viewfinder. There is a battery that is required for the centre-needle metering system. However, what is great about this camera is that it’s still fully functional if the battery runs out. This means you’d have to work out the exposure yourself (you can’t go too wrong with the ‘sunny 16’ rule) or alternatively use an external light meter. This is one of the main reasons I picked the Pentax K1000 over the Canon AE-1 because if the battery dies on the Canon AE-1, the mirror will lock up so no more photos can be taken until the battery is replaced.

I really liked the fact that the Pentax K1000 was manufactured from 1976 to 1997 which made me think it must be a good camera if it was in production for 21 years.

Whilst in production, from what I’ve read, it was initially manufactured in Japan and then in other countries. The earlier models state Asahi Pentax on them where as the later models only state Pentax which again, from what I’ve read, the quality of the materials produced on the later models isn’t always as good quality.

I therefore decided that I wanted an earlier ‘Asahi Pentax’ version. Thanks to the timespan of manufacturing of these cameras, they are very easy to get hold of but they are going up in price every year.

I decided that I wanted my camera to be in an excellent condition and was willing to pay a little extra for this. After much searching in my local camera shops and online I finally managed to find an older style ‘Asahi Pentax’ that was cosmetically in beautiful condition, fully working with the light meter working correctly and the light seals newly replaced on eBay from a reputable camera dealer with an SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens (Asahi Optical Co.) included. What was also lovely was that the camera came with it’s original case which again was in immaculate condition and also the original cool 70’s  blue and white embroidered strap. I find the strap extremely comfortable to wear when using the camera.

I think the pictures do come out really nice on this camera (will show examples in a later blog) and I’ve learnt a lot about shutter speeds and aperture since using this camera.

It is a proper solid, well built camera and I’ve certainly not regretted my purchase and have had much joy in using it.

When I started using the camera I did feel rather restricted in the lens I was using so decided that I wanted to purchase some further lenses, ideally for wider shots and a zoom type lens for closer shots of wildlife when I’m on the beach etc.

I managed to find a copy of the ‘Complete Pentax user’s guide K1000’ by David Kilpatrick on eBay. This gives great information regarding the mechanics/use of the camera and also the types of lenses available.

I visited my local camera shop, Clock Tower cameras in Brighton (www.clocktowercameras.co.uk) where I was able to purchase two of the lenses I was after.

The first one was the SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 28mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which I was able to pick up for less than £60 and is in excellent condition and gives wider angle shots.

The second lens I purchased from there was the SMC Pentax-M zoom 1:4 75-150mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which again was in excellent condition and cost around £30. The zoom is quite a good general zoom lens but if you wanted really detailed shots, you definitely need a larger zoom. For me though I was happy enough with this purchase.

I learnt from my local camera shop that the wider angle lenses are more costly than the zoom lenses for this camera. They told me this was because people don’t always want the bulk of carrying the zoom lenses around so they’re ultimately not as popular.

The main lens I use the most out of the three I currently own is the 28mm lens because of the coverage I can get in a shot. If I was taking a picture of something closer up (such as a portrait) then I would opt for the 50mm lens. When I need to zoom in then I obviously use my zoom lens.

I use this camera a lot and I’m currently trying different films, both in colour and black and white, to see what types of pictures each film produces.

 

 

 

Vintage Camera Manuals

When I decided to use my Zeiss-Ikon camera again (before I realised it no longer worked) I couldn’t quite remember all the functions because it had been a while since I last used it.

When I originally purchased the camera from a vintage camera shop in Arundel there was never a manual included and the owner at the shop had given me a basic run through at the time of how to use it.

I therefore looked on the internet to see if I could find a copy of the original manual.

I came across this fantastic website which has been invaluable to me for other film cameras (and vintage flashes) I have since acquired.

The website is http://www.cameramanuals.org

The gentleman who runs the website, M Butkus recommends a donation of $3 (which can be done via PayPal) if you find any manual you download useful.

I personally make a donation every time I download a manual from him as I think it’s only fair as it has helped me understand my vintage film camera’s, especially when I’m unable to find an out of print hard copy of the manual.