In 2009, Olympus introduced the PEN E-P1, a Micro Four Thirds system digital camera which the company touts as the next-generation Pen camera. All Olympus PEN digital camera series have built-in sensor-shift image stabilisation and (except for the E-P1) can use optional electronic viewfinder which should be slid into its hotshoe.
The original Pen was introduced in 1959. It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani, and was the first half-frame camera produced in Japan. It was one of the smallest cameras to use 35mm film in regular 135 cassettes. It was thought to be as portable as a pen; thus the name. The idea was to be much copied by other Japanese makers.
A series of derivatives followed, some easier to use with the introduction of exposure automation, e.g. the Pen EE; others with a wider aperture lens and a manual meter, such as the Pen D.
In 1966 the arrival of the Rollei 35, a camera almost as compact but making normal 24×36 exposures, would announce the beginning of the end for the half-frame concept. However, Olympus went on producing the simpler models of the Pen family until at least 1983.
In the descriptions below, the focal lengths indicated do not give the same angle of view as for full-frame cameras: 30mm on the Pen is roughly equivalent to 45mm on a full-frame, and 28mm to a 40mm.
Pen and Pen S
The original Pen is a very compact half-frame camera, with just a viewfinder, no meter and fully manual settings. It has a 28mm f/3.5 Zuiko lens. Its shutter settings are 25, 50, 100, 200, B; its aperture range from 3.5 to 22. The back is removed completely for film loading and unloading.
The Pen S is almost the same camera, with the following shutter settings: 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, B. It existed in two versions, with a 30mm f/2.8 lens or an 28mm f/3.5 lens.
The Pen D was a more expensive model, launched in 1962. It has a 32mm f/1.9 lens, a shutter going to 1/500 and an uncoupled selenium meter.
The Pen D2, launched in 1964, is the same model with an uncoupled CdS exposure meter replacing the selenium one.
The Pen D3, launched in 1965, is the same with a 32mm f/1.7 lens.
The Pen EE was introduced in 1961 and was the amateur model, with fully automatic exposure and fixed focusing. It is a true point and shoot camera, and has a 28mm f/3.5 lens. The Pen EE family is easily recognized by the selenium meter window around the lens.
The Pen EE.S, launched in 1962, is the same model with a 30mm f/2.8 and a focusing ring, made necessary by the wider aperture.
In 1966 the two cameras were slightly modified and became the Pen EE (EL) and Pen EE.S (EL) with a modification of the take-up spool to make film loading easier. EL stands for Easy Loading. You can only recognize them by a small label marked EL stuck on the front, or you can open them and look at the take-up spool.
The Pen EE.2, produced from 1968 to 1977, is nearly the same as the Pen EE with the addition of a hot shoe.
The Pen EE.3, produced from 1973 to 1983, seems to be almost exactly the same camera except that it added the flashmatic system when used with the matching GN14 flash.
The Pen EE.S2, produced from 1968 to 1971, is the same as the Pen EE.S with the addition of a hot shoe.
The Pen EE.D, produced from 1967 to 1972, is a more expensive automated-exposure model, with a CdS meter, a 32mm f/1.7 lens and a hot shoe.
The Pen EF, launched in 1981, was the last Pen model. It is like the Pen EE.2 or Pen EE.3, but with a small built-in flash, and was only sold in black finish with white letterings.
The Pen W or Pen Wide is a very rare variant of the Pen S model, with a wide-angle 25mm f/2.8 lens, equivalent to a 35mm in full format. It only exists in black finish, and has a cold flash shoe. It was only produced between 1964 and 1965, and today fetches high prices on the collectors' market.
The Pen EM, produced from 1965 to 1966, is a motorized Pen model. It has a 35mm f/2 lens, and a CdS exposure meter allowing automatic or manual exposure.
PEN F, PEN FT, PEN FV
Pen Rapid models
The Pen Rapid EE.S and Pen Rapid EE.D were variants of the Pen EE.S and Pen EE.D designed to accept the Agfa Rapid cassette instead of the regular 35mm cassette. They were both made from 1965 to 1966, and met very little success.
In June 2009, Olympus announced the PEN E-P1, an interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds system digital camera which carries on in the PEN tradition. Its external design is clearly inspired by the traditional PEN series.
In January 2010, Olympus followed up the release of the E-P1 with the E-P2. For the most part, the E-P2 is identical to the E-P1 except it is available in all-black, and includes the ability to mount a high resolution electronic viewfinder. It also features two new art filters. The new port included for the electronic viewfinder can also be used for a microphone (not included). The suggested retail price at release was US$1099. The long-awaited Olympus E-P3 was announced on June 30, 2011, to positive reviews.
On February 3, 2010, Olympus Corporation announced a third camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL1, L standing for Lite. The camera was a success, with the E-PL2 following almost a year later, and the E-PL3 arriving in fourth quarter 2011.
On June 30, 2011, along with the E-PL3 and E-P3 announcements Olympus also announced the E-PM1, or "Pen Mini". The Mini was released with almost exactly the same specifications as the E-PL3 but in a slightly smaller and lighter package. The most notable difference, aside from price, being the lack of a tilting screen on the Mini.
Also followed: the Pen E-PM2, E-PL5, E-PL6, E-P5, E-PL7. The E-P5 is relatively bigger, and has the more advanced 5-axis sensor stabilization. All three use the same Sony 16 megapixel sensor as the OM-D camera.
The most recent introduction is the PEN E-PL7 that ties together the same technology and image quality as the more traditional looking relative, the OM-D E-M10, with more trend related features such as a tilt down LCD to make taking a "selfie" that much easier.
Indeed, updates to Olympus own free OIShare App also drive the self-portrait and share message. The app will show a live preview of your image via a wifi connection to the camera and let you control a host of camera functions from zoom to new art filters before you take the shot which will then download to your smartphone to let you post on social media.
The company is positioning the PEN very much as an attractive but very capable system camera that will appeal to people who are a bit more ambitious about their photography than even the latest smartphones will allow.
- "E-P1". Olympus America. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- "Olympus PEN E-PL5 review". Retrieved December 12, 2013.
- "Olympus News Release:Introduction of OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera". Olympus Imaging Corporation. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Olympus. "OLYMPUS PEN E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera with a new Live Guide interface." February 3, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
- Photoxels. "Olympus Announces E-P3, E-PL3 and E-PM1." June 30, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- (in English) Manual available in the Favorite Classics section of kyphoto.com
- (in English) Olympus Pen EES-2 aperture repair
- (in English) Olympus Pen at Marriott's World
- (in English) Original Pen in Karl Blessing's website
- (in French) Lionel's Olympus Pen EE-3 page at 35mm-compact.com
- (in French) Pages at Sylvain Halgand's www.collection-appareils.com:
- Pen EE
- Pen EE-2
- Pen EES-2
- Pen EES
- (in Japanese) Half-moon, a website fully devoted to the Pen and Pen F series