Author Topic: The joy of small things (half frame)  (Read 632 times)

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chris667

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The joy of small things (half frame)
« on: December 18, 2017, 03:26:41 PM »
I have a project in mind (an epic walk next year) for which I want to use half-frame cameras, and make little books of the things I see on the way. I love the tiny, tiny negatives, and the unobtrusiveness of the cameras. Don't get me wrong, my Spotmatics are still great and I will never get rid of them. But there is something about the little prints!

Which is my best bet if I want to find a used one? I have a Diana Mini (I love plastic lenses, but this one isn't very nice), a Pen EE2 that doesn't work, and I bought a couple from a well-known auction site, but they all have issues.  I'd rather just have one that works.

Which is your favourite of the half-frame cameras, and any tips on finding a decent one? I want an equivalent focal length of 40mm or so, and a fastish lens if possible.

Finally, can I see any of your half-frame photos that you're proud of?

mcduff

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 04:12:00 PM »
Hi Chris

I have to be careful when we are talking about tiny-negative cameras! As my friends SLVR and a few others know, I can go down tiny-camera rabbit holes (SLVR alluded to that in a recent discussion of the FREAKING AWESOME Pentax 110). And this can sometimes distract me from actually shooting as G.A.S. takes over.

I love the half frames, not too surprisingly the Pens, but the fancy PenF is too rich for my blood, so I have been using stuff in the E series. I have the EE and the EES-2. While I admire the simplicity of the series I prefer the EES series over the EE as it adds scale-focusing. I also like the '2' part of the EES-2 as it lets me shoot 400 iso if I want my half frames to be extra grainy! ;) Word on the street is everyone wants a Pen D but they are a lot.

I was getting into building compositions with the half-frames, eg
EES2 by Mcduff, on Flickr

but i thought they also stood well on their own
Pen EE Test - 004 by Mcduff, on Flickr

BTW http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Olympus_Pen explains the differences fairly well between them all. (Or I think it explains it well as TKMEDIA and myself edited a fair bit of it*)

*apologies if someone else on here wrote and of it, I just remember TK and I writing some of the bits.
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chris667

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 06:32:52 PM »
Yes! That's exactly what I want to do!

I love the idea of doing triptychs of an image.  Those are great!

KevinAllan

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 06:40:00 PM »
I've never been a big fan of half-frame but I owned a couple of the Pen-EE models before selling them on.

I didn't persevere with the cameras because I realised that they were hardly any smaller than a "full-frame" model such as the Olympus 35RC. Here are some specs from the manuals:

Olympus EE-2  Weight 335g  Dimensions in mm 108 * 66 * 43
Olympus 35RC Weight 410g  Dimensions in mm  109 * 70 * 50

Anywhere here's some sample half-frame images.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 06:46:53 PM by KevinAllan »

John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 07:20:12 PM »
Been shooting half frame since 1971, started with a Pen viewfinder type camera, the early, all manual camera. This has been my personal experience. The original standard Pen viewfinder models seem to be to most likely to work. They have a Copal, two blade shutter with speeds of 1/25-1/50-1/100-1/200 and 'B', a projected frame viewfinder, focus by scale to just less than two feet. With the 28mm f3.5 lens, scale focus (estimating the distance and setting that value on the focus ring) works quite well. I have/had several of the Pen S models with the 5 blade Copal shutter and every one needed service for gummy shutter. Never had any EE models, I want all manual control and the basic EE with the 28mm f3.5 lens has a fixed focus lens, too limited.

If you don't mind a larger camera you can get a Pen F with interchangeable lenses. The problem there is finding lenses, they are getting mighty thin on the ground. The Pen F, FT, and FV can all be good but.....you have to be very careful about operating condition, they can be jammed up and hard to source repairs for.

The Pen viewfinder types with fast lenses, the D, D2, and D3 can also be found. The 32mm f1.9, 6 element lens is also scale focus and very good optically. Don't expect the meter to work, just use a hand held meter,  anyway, it is uncoupled and not very sensitive.

There seem to be a fair number of Canon half frame cameras available. The only one, specification wise I'd be interested in is the EE 1.7, which despite the EE designation has all manual control.

Another thought. Kevin Allan is right about camera size. I have both a 35RC and several Pen cameras. The however is; the RC is not half frame so, if you want half frame for triptychs or the 3:4 aspect ratio the Olympus Pens are the best choice, in my opinion. The Pen standard (all manual control) is also more compact in thickness than an RC and feels smaller in the hands than the numbers suggest.


« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 09:23:08 PM by John Robison »

mcduff

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 09:26:25 PM »
Hi John, I sort of forgot it was all manual which is nice! I was always attracted to the Pen D mainly because it is manual.

Not to imply I am a "manual only" snob as I frequently shoot my OM-2 in (gasp) Aperture Priority mode, but the Pens I have (and my Auto110, speaking of even tinier negs) are a wee bit too automatic for me -- It would be kind of nice to at the very least know what settings are being used! And I do worry that these old light metres used on the pens (and the Oly Trips) will at some point fail.

So not that I am going to restart my gear quest but i will keep an eye out for one of the original pens. I am in active GAS avoidance, at the moment!  :)

And yes Kevin, the half frames are not all that much smaller than the small full frame 35s and I know I have a few full frames that are the same size or smaller than the Pens. But I think there are still charms to them and think that they certainly worked for you as I liked your shots, particularly the helmet.

Having extolled the virtues of them, there were downsides for me. I like shooting triptychs (or other multiples) with them but I did find scanning them a bit fussy.* I also found 72 shots was a long haul so I would often load smaller rolls of film just for it.**

And Chris I think the multi neg format works awesome for the half frames, and I thought mine has really nice borders! :-)


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*not anywhere near as much as 110, which I love but kind of drives me nuts, and yes I have the lomo neg holder for 110 film
**I am the same when I shoot d*g*tal in that I normally like to downoad and archive quite frequently vs filling my stupid card anywhere close to full.
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Francois

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 10:49:18 PM »
Yeah, half frames are seldom much smaller than full frame cameras. But if you're just looking for miniaturization, you're missing the point of those.
What I find interesting is the number of frames on little film. And mostly the grain they can create!

Now, I have a Pen EE. It works quite well but I haven't fallen in love with it. I have a Diana Mini, but for some reason I like it better in square mode even if it wastes some film. And lastly my true love, my share the love Agat18. It might be quirky and finicky but I just love this thing!
And it reignited my GAS a bit. I've been eyeing a Chaika to give my Fed some company...

These are from the Agat
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 11:41:05 PM »



Now, I have a Pen EE. It works quite well but I haven't fallen in love with it. I have a Diana Mini, but for some reason I like it better in square mode even if it wastes some film. And lastly my true love, my share the love Agat18. It might be quirky and finicky but I just love this thing!
And it reignited my GAS a bit. I've been eyeing a Chaika to give my Fed some company...

These are from the Agat
Yeah, for some of us they are addictive. I have plenty of half frame and swore off GAS but just last week found a FV body I couldn't pass up. Christmas is a good time to check ebay for deals because everyone else is too busy in the mad rush. It's took me almost 20 years to put together a Pen F kit with 5 primes and the 50~90 zoom. (a heavy and large beast but comes in handy when I need framing between 38mm and 100mm) I set a price I'll pay and stick to it until I find a deal. The only exception was early on when I spent $100 on a Olympus OM to Pen adapter. That was the single most expensive item I bought but already have a OM kit so it let me use my OM Zuikos on the Pen F.

02Pilot

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017, 11:50:42 PM »
I've had a few half-frames, and I still have a few half-frames (slightly fewer than the total few). I only use them periodically, and I'm not really convinced there's much reason to do so, but I use them anyway. Most of the automatic ones I've tried haven't worked out for me. I still have a couple that were gifts and I'm not parting with them because of that, but they don't get out of the box much. One is a Yashica Samurai Z, which is a fairly interesting camera with lots of strange features - if you want things like a zoom lens and several multiple exposure modes, this is your half-frame.

The one that keeps getting pulled out when the urge strikes in my PEN D3. Like most of my cameras, I bought it broken and cheap. Fortunately, they're really easy to work on. Good lens, manual controls, even a decent meter if it matters. Here's a couple samples:





Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


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mikec

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2017, 04:45:08 AM »
I bought a Pen EE new in 1961.  It was small and compact and made sharp, well exposed pictures.  I'd love to have another to shoot, but getting one with a good selenium meter seems like a long shot.

The only half-frame I have at present is a Mercury II model CX.


Camera of The Future
by Mike Connealy, on Flickr

The Mercury II is pretty light weight with an aluminum body, but it isn't small.  However, it does make some nice pictures and it is rewarding to get them from such a unique instrument.


café bébé
by Mike Connealy, on Flickr


code red
by Mike Connealy, on Flickr


B-17 Maintenance
by Mike Connealy, on Flickr

John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 07:33:50 PM »
I bought a Pen EE new in 1961.  It was small and compact and made sharp, well exposed pictures.  I'd love to have another to shoot, but getting one with a good selenium meter seems like a long shot.

The only half-frame I have at present is a Mercury II model CX.

The Mercury II is pretty light weight with an aluminum body, but it isn't small.  However, it does make some nice pictures and it is rewarding to get them from such a unique instrument.

Can't remember where but I saw a thread on disassembling, cleaning and repairing a Mercury. The shutter looked to be a fairly simple and robust design, although taking up a good bit of room. (thus the hump on the top) The Mercury have a wonderful 'industrial' look about them.

Must...resist....

chris667

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2017, 07:54:45 PM »
Thanks folks. There is so much knowledge on this forum!

Interesting that you all seem to gravitate towards the same camera with the Pen D, and not the (expensive!) Pen F. I definitely feel simplicity is the best with cameras, I don't want to be carrying bags full of lenses.

To reply to everyone's points:

It's not about the physical size of the camera. There is just something about the negatives. They have a look that I love. I can't quite put my finger on it, but they're gorgeous. They look like big enlargements from 35mm, but with more manageable prints. Big prints have their place, but I specifically don't want to do that.

I actually have a Yahsica 72E which I am currently running a film through, but it has lived an extremely hard life. If it was in better nick it would be perfect, but I would want to have it serviced, and if I'm spending money I'd try to start with a better one. It only has an f2.8 lens, but still it would tick 90% of the boxes if I could find a good one. It has scale focusing, but detents at 2 and 5 metres, which I think is a nice touch. All manual, all mechanical, with shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/250sec. And it doesn't have the outrageous Olympus proprietary filter thread. I find proprietary technology like that irritating.

And mike, that camera of yours is gorgeous! I will keep my eyes peeled.

I might even pick up a couple of Russians. Agat 18 looks splendid!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2017, 07:56:19 PM by chris667 »

AJShepherd

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2017, 09:51:46 PM »
If you pick up an Agat 18, be warned that the inside is very shiny, and the first time i used mine i got all kind of weird reflections in the frame. I wound up carefully painting the inside walls with matt-black paint (I got a small tin of Humbrol, the stuff you get to paint model kits) which did the trick.

Huts by Antony Shepherd, on Flickr

I used my EE-2 recently, but haven't got around to developing the film I used yet.  Really must give the Yashica Samurai another outing. I'd quite like to get some more lenses for my Pen-FT, but I think some of the micro-4/3rds d*g*t*l lot are snaffling those up.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2017, 09:53:41 PM by AJShepherd »

Bryan

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2017, 10:06:22 PM »
The only half frame camera I ever owned was a an Olympus Pen EE-3.  The meter worked but I think I only ran one roll of film through it before I gave it to a co-workers daughter, she wanted to start shooting film.  The smaller format is nice for grain but I don't like having to wait to finish 70 shots before developing a roll.  I have always wanted a Mercury camera, only because it's funny looking.

Olympus Pen EE-3 by Bryan Chernick, on Flickr

Seagull on bridge by Bryan Chernick, on Flickr

02Pilot

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2017, 10:19:29 PM »
PEN D prices are pretty low right now. Sold listings on ebay are virtually all under $100, even for D3s. And the D3 is the one you want if you care about having a meter, since it uses a CdS meter rather than a selenium cell.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


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John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2017, 02:27:38 AM »
PEN D prices are pretty low right now. Sold listings on ebay are virtually all under $100, even for D3s. And the D3 is the one you want if you care about having a meter, since it uses a CdS meter rather than a selenium cell.
The D2 also has a battery powered CDS cell, the difference between a D2 and D3 is that the D3 has a slightly faster 32mm f1.7 lens, the D2 has a 32mm f1.9 lens. Not really much difference. The thing about the onboard meter of the D series is that it is a uncoupled, transfer the EV # to the lens type of set-up. Might as well use a hand held meter with a greater range.

chris667; The D series has a standard 43mm filter size, not too hard to find, even new. You are right about the manual control standard Pen with the 28mm f3.5 or the Pen S with the 30mm f2.8 lens, they have a 22.5mm thread size filter, all but impossible to find. If I'm really need to use a filter on my standard Pen then I use a 22.5 to series V filter adapter. This adapter is also almost impossible to find.

mcduff

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2017, 04:01:46 AM »
However, it does make some nice pictures and it is rewarding to get them from such a unique instrument.

No kidding. Beauties
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02Pilot

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2017, 11:47:43 AM »
PEN D prices are pretty low right now. Sold listings on ebay are virtually all under $100, even for D3s. And the D3 is the one you want if you care about having a meter, since it uses a CdS meter rather than a selenium cell.
The D2 also has a battery powered CDS cell, the difference between a D2 and D3 is that the D3 has a slightly faster 32mm f1.7 lens, the D2 has a 32mm f1.9 lens. Not really much difference. The thing about the onboard meter of the D series is that it is a uncoupled, transfer the EV # to the lens type of set-up. Might as well use a hand held meter with a greater range.

You're quite right, of course. I think that information once occupied some corner of my brain, but it's obviously since gone missing.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


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jojonas~

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2017, 12:19:45 PM »
Been shooting half frame since 1971, started with a Pen viewfinder type camera, the early, all manual camera. This has been my personal experience. The original standard Pen viewfinder models seem to be to most likely to work. They have a Copal, two blade shutter with speeds of 1/25-1/50-1/100-1/200 and 'B', a projected frame viewfinder, focus by scale to just less than two feet. With the 28mm f3.5 lens, scale focus (estimating the distance and setting that value on the focus ring) works quite well. I have/had several of the Pen S models with the 5 blade Copal shutter and every one needed service for gummy shutter.

I managed to fix that on the one I have but it is still in need of other repairs so I haaaaven't actually used it yet *bangs head on wall*

I do love my pen ees-2 though and diana mini though the latter is getting more faulty each time I use it :P
/jonas

Francois

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2017, 02:12:06 PM »
I've had problems with my mini too. The shutter had become unreliable. I ended up dropping a bit of lighter fluid on the shutter and cycle it a bunch of times to get it to work reliably again.
Francois

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Lee Rust

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #20 on: December 25, 2017, 03:46:28 AM »
For me the most unique thing about half-frame is the naturally vertical frame orientation that makes you look at everything differently.  It's always fun to make "Pen-orama" landscapes, too. The large number of frames on a roll is great if you take lots of photos in a short period of time, but kind of a drag if you don't. I've used three cameras: Pen FT (nice choice if you can get one with lenses and a working light meter, but extremely loud shutter), Pen S (easy to carry, not too much trouble to focus, extremely quiet shutter) & Mercury II (mechanically very interesting & easy to repair, surprisingly good lens, gentle shutter sound, but rather awkward to use). I've always used Kodak Portra 400 in my half-frames and moderately sized prints look great. No experience with Pen EE or Pen D.

02Pilot

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2017, 03:54:21 AM »
For me the most unique thing about half-frame is the naturally vertical frame orientation that makes you look at everything differently.

True for the vast majority of half-frames, but not all; the Yashica Samurai cameras have vertical film transport and thus native landscape format. That said, I prefer the vertical format.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


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John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #22 on: December 25, 2017, 06:02:22 AM »
.....I've used three cameras: Pen FT (nice choice if you can get one with lenses and a working light meter, but extremely loud shutter),.....
I have had/have both the Pen F and FT and thought the shutter was loud also. But just last week I picked up a FV, which I find much more quiet. This is strange because, other than not having a meter, the FV is the same as a FT. This one is not near as loud as my earlier cameras though. Not as quiet as my OM-1 or Leica M4-2 but a quite pleasant mechanical sound. Cannot use it though, still waiting for a foam light sealing kit. And I think I'll remove the top and blow out the dust around the viewfinder optics while I'm waiting.
Affection for the vertical frame must not be all that uncommon, I have always liked that feature too. Or perhaps, after 4+ decades of half frame shooting I've become accustomed to it.

Francois

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #23 on: December 25, 2017, 02:42:18 PM »
But it brings out one odd behavior: I'm so used to turning the camera for vertical shots that I turn my half frame cameras only to have to turn them back to normal.... I think I'll call it the half frame twist :)
Francois

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John Robison

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Re: The joy of small things (half frame)
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2017, 03:37:43 PM »
But it brings out one odd behavior: I'm so used to turning the camera for vertical shots that I turn my half frame cameras only to have to turn them back to normal.... I think I'll call it the half frame twist :)

Ha ha, yeah, been there. Another thing, the Pen lenses mount by rotating counter-clockwise, my OM lenses mount by rotating clockwise. After so long I still try to turn them the wrong way.

And imagine the poor original Konica Autoreflex shooter with the Full/Half switch on the top plate. In this camera you could set that switch at will in mid roll, mixing both full and half frame negs on the same roll. I cannot remember the exact sequence but you had to follow a certain protocol to avoid extra spacing or overlap if I remember right. I sure it drove automatic processing machine operators crazy.

I really like my Prn F bodies because they are so small and clean, but sort of wanted one of those Full/Half Autoreflex's just because it's so unique.....and Konica lenses are reported to be top notch.