Olympus Pen F Family
I became aware of the Olympus Pen F and variants about five years ago. Excuse my ignorance. Once I read about that line I wanted one, and fast. There were some on eBay, costly, so I settled on a one from a fellow Ontarian which was cheap. The camera, l not the fellow Ontarian. The seller had communication issues but that’s beside the point. The camera was cheap for a reason, the shutter was damaged and the lens was boring. By now I have six of the little wonders; two, including the first one, are dead, but the rest happily click.
Nevertheless, I admire the little creature. Making a pint-size SLR in the mid 60 was no doubt an achievement, considering only a few compact SLRs were available at the time. Canonflex RM and RP were much bigger, Olympus had nothing, and Pentax had the early H series. The only worthwhile Japanese SLR was the Nikon, F series. Some Olympus Pen F sub-versions were made, such as a medical and scientific; and also an all-black version.
The camera is a pleasure to look at and to hold. It is about an inch longer than the tiny regular Olympus Pen, which is tiny even at today’s wonder cameras. It falls nicely in the hand, the lens is off-center which makes it a delight to hold and focus. For right-handed photographers. It doesn’t feature the extra features offered by its larger brethren such as holding focus and visible depth of field; and only one variation, namely the FT has a light meter. It does offer a slew of interchangeable lenses, speeds up to 500, self-timer and half-frame picture size. Shooting 72 exposures on a roll can come close to today’s endless snaps by the, gasp, smartphones.
Olympus did not economize on manufacturing. The body is solid and heavy: 610 gr compared to the much bigger OM1 at 690 gr. It is solid metal, not sheet metal as the American and European cameras of the time. No plastic. What did confuse me at first, the Pen F is a double stroke while the FT and FV are single.
I am not a photographer so did not run a film through them. But as a toolmaker, although long ago, I admire the way these cameras are built. The two deceased cameras I have await a post mortem, perhaps will come back from the dead. Will update.
Olympus brought the Pen F brand back, as with the OM-D digital line.
Olympus Pen F Current Value
Pen F / FT / FV notes
- Open F – three screws, two under rewind lever, one on the side.
- Open FT – same two under rewind lever, one under wind lever. If cannot wind need to be creative.
- Flash sync wire, when removing the cover, use long nose pliers to pull ‘U’ connector out. No need to dismantle socket or cut wire.
- FT timer – use pliers to remove button. Underneath LH thread screw.