Late in 2014 we joined my brother and his family at a local beach spot here in Adelaide called Glenelg (the word is actually a palindrome; just read it backwards and you’ll understand). His family live in Melbourne and they wanted to join us to celebrate our father’s 80th birthday. I took the opportunity to take a few old film cameras with me, including this little gem:

Olympus Pen EE3
Olympus Pen EE3

It’s an Olympus Pen EE3 (EE meaning Electronic Eye); a small Japanese made 35mm viewfinder camera from the 1970s. This is a half-frame camera, meaning that you can squeeze two frames onto one regular 35mm sized frame.

The body is mostly aluminium, which lends it a nice heft in the hand; and the automatic light meter consists of a ring of photo-sensitive selenium cells around the glass lens. This means that the camera doesn’t require batteries to function! Selenium cells can last for decades (some reports suggest 30-40 years or more) if looked after properly and covered when not in use. Fortunately, this copy seems to have been looked after well and the light meter functions.

It was the first film I had had developed in over a decade; and when I took it into the Kodak processing lab, the guy behind the counter started at me blankly for a moment before looking up the price of half-frame development. Apparently it was the first half-frame camera they’d seen in about 25 years! They even had to think about how they’d cut it for me and whether the machine could do it. It was no problem in the end.

Here are some photos from our trip (click on each image to make it larger and clearer). I used readily available Kodak Ultramax 400 ISO colour negative film.

Glenelg Tea House
Glenelg Tea House
Glenelg Tea House - looking out
Glenelg Tea House – looking out

This is the Glenelg Tea House. You can see how two frames are squeezed into one, meaning that you can tell a bit of a story if you plan carefully. I like the warmth in these images, and the old selenium meter seems to have handled the darker light conditions admirably.

Glenelg Marina
Glenelg Marina

I really like the blues and greens in the above photos. The Kodak Ultramax film seems to be a decent fine grained modern film emulsion with good colour reproduction.

At the beach, Glenelg
At the beach, Glenelg

Above, we see the problems associated with half-frame film processing. These frames are a little blown out, and I suspect that part of it is due to the difficulty of the technician having to balance exposure across two high contrast scenes on a single frame. In future, I think I’ll just have the negatives developed and pay for a high quality scan. I’ll have far more control over colour and exposure balancing in Adobe Lightroom.

Street scene - Glenelg, SA
Street scene – Glenelg, SA

The exposure balancing problems are even more evident in this photo (look at the blown out twilight sky), but I am quite impressed with how the old selenium meter on the camera has handled the difficult light conditions. The lens is wide at 28mm, so just about everything is in focus, but it only opens up to a maximum aperture of f3.5, so it’s not especially fast. The above photos were made at dusk, and I think the results are very good.

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Some photos of Glenelg using the Olympus Pen EE3
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10 thoughts on “Some photos of Glenelg using the Olympus Pen EE3

  • March 20, 2015 at 8:18 am
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    Well done. it’s been quite a journey

    Reply
  • March 18, 2015 at 7:20 am
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    I can recommend scanning and post processing yourself. It works well. I get 2400dpi (approx) scans done here in Melbourne from Big W (very reasonably priced) so you may want to enquire over there.

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    • March 18, 2015 at 7:33 am
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      Thanks for the tip @oly35mm :good: I’ll do that. I did actually inquire at Kmart (the youg lady eventually realised I was talking about film!) and they only provide lower res JPG scans. Are they providing TIFF files to you?

      Reply
      • March 18, 2015 at 8:22 pm
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        You need to watch them. Big W told me they couldn’t do high res for 18 months, then siddenly it was possible. Big W use FujiFilm equipment which may have been upgraded.

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        • March 20, 2015 at 12:29 am
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          Thanks @oly35mm . I’ll check it out when I get back there. Probably next week. A hi-res TIFF would be ideal.

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          • March 20, 2015 at 8:15 am
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            Good point. I’ve never asked, but just accepted the JPGs. You may need to pay for extra CDs, or come to an arrangement with a USB drive.

          • March 20, 2015 at 10:52 am
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            For the sake of getting tham scanned cheaply, JPGs might have to do 🙂

  • March 17, 2015 at 11:02 am
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    I want to say I have a favourite, but I can’t. They are all lovely photos. Okay.. so I especially love the warm tea house images. But I think because I just love the idea of sitting in there enjoying the passing day. I’m a sucker for a nice Irish Breakfast blend. And you’re right about the greens and blues in the second set. They are quite accurate assuming there was little handling of the digital renders. Harbour shots are always pretty.

    I learned something interesting from you here. I’ve never seen half frames and would never have thought of the conundrum of developing both halves simultaneously. Wildly cool.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! x

    Reply
    • March 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm
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      Hi @maesha-shannon ! I must say, I really like the Tea House too. I’m do like warm light, serenity and watching the world 😉 I remember having Chocolate Orange Darjeeling at the time, but I love a fruity Earl Grey.
      I’m not completely across what the Kodak tech does in the minilab, but I don’t think there was any manipulation beyond exposure balancing. Looking at the negatives reveals little change in other areas. The half-frame is quite an ingenius little device. I can make 72 photos (more like 80 actually) from a 36 exp roll of film; and this model doesn’t actually require any manual focus at all due to the wide angle, so using it is very rapid. It’s also small and unobtrusive, so makes for a neat street shooter. Whilst using it, it almost felt like a digital camera in terms of ergonomics and method.

      Reply

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