A few frames … Olympus Pen EE3

Over the years I’ve acquired a fairly random collection of cameras alongside the day-to-day “system”. One that only gets the occasional outing is the half-frame, 35mm Olympus Pen EE3. I loaded it with a roll of high-contrast Rollei Blackbird recently and it spent three weeks in my bag being used as and when I got the inspiration.

The Pen EE-3 is a compact, yet tough little half-frame camera from the 1970s and as with all half-frame cameras, you get two pictures on a single 35mm frame. The EE-3 has fully-automatic exposure with the EE standing for Electronic Eye. It measures the available light with the selenium cell meter which surrounds the lens and chooses between two shutter speeds: 1/125th and 1/30th of a second. The aperture is fixed via the ISO/ASA rating of the film which is set just below the lens.

My method of using this camera has evolved since I’ve had it. I started by making individual pics in the same way as I would use any other camera. However, I’d not had it long before I realised there was, for me, a better way. In-camera diptychs. Pairs of complementary images occupying a single 35mm frame.

More recently I’ve taken that further and have made three-, four-, five- and six-frame sequences. This takes the diptych concept further and the four-plus sequences fit the panoramic format very nicely.

For the last three weeks I’ve picked this little camera out of my bag on around half a dozen occasions slowly using the 72 frames at my disposal. Mostly pairs and triplets but also plenty of four-, five- and even six-frame sets. The biggest problem is cutting the negatives to fit into a conventional sleeve. My solution is to scan the full roll before cutting it and ensuring I have full runs of consecutive negatives captured.

Blyth beach. Six consecutive half-frames to create a panorama Olympus EE3, Rollei Blackbird rated at 64. Id11 (1+1) 10.5mins

I will write a few notes on scanning at another time although I will just say that I used a Pixl-Latr for the three- to six-frame sequences and an Essential Film Holder for the diptychs.

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