The Heavenly Half-Frame

My newest camera is from the gods … almost — the Olympus brand is named after the mountain from Greek mythology, but is based in Japan. However, that doesn’t make the Pen EE.2, a half-frame camera made from 1968 to 1977, anything less of a marvel. Compact and with automatic focus and exposure, it’s essentially a point-n-shoot with the divine twist of a high quality 28mm lens. Add to this 72 pictures from a standard 36 shot roll of film, lovely grain from a smaller negative and an inexplicably darkened sky, and the result is heavenly. No wonder more than 17 million Pen cameras sold in their heyday!

I recently wandered down Glebe Street, Yass with my half-frame, snapping urban scenes, both everyday and unusual — from post boxes to a bike perched on a two-metre high fence. There’s something old-fashioned about these images — a fuzzy foreground and sharp distance, caused by the camera’s limited focusing ability. Meanwhile, its portrait format (created by slicing the regular 35mm frame in two) invites making panoramas, squashing similar or contrasting images together for heightened or new meaning.

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