In 2018–hellbent on experiencing at least one camera from each line that Olympus engineer Yoshihisa Maitani designed–I bought an Olympus Pen D2 half frame on the internet. It’s a weird, frustrating device. Fully manual controls, and an unlinked meter that only reads in stops exposure value (EV). It’s a viewfinder camera too, so, the focus is set by guessing distance and using a scale slider plus hopefully a little memorization of the depth of field tables.
But, it gets twice as many shots per roll as regular 35mm, and it turns out that’s incredibly liberating. It’s contrarian, but it also encourages being adventurous and playful. It also forces a completely different shooting style– looser framing, more casual moments, less formal. Between the guesstimate focus and the parallax issues between the viewfinder and lens, it doesn’t allow for being too precise with the composition and framing, and the older focus system also encourages hanging back more and shooting a wider scene.
I fell in love with it, fully and deeply. It’s the only film camera in my collection guaranteed to always have a roll loaded in it. If I have my day bag on me, it’s always in there alongside my digital.
The digital is how I do my serious, formal, complete work, and it always will be. But the Pen is for simpler, more impulsive shots. It’s for doodling, or just grabbing a shot to remember, or exploring a quick moment of good light.
To me, that’s kinda perfect. Maitani named it a Pen because like a pen, he wanted the user to take it everywhere. And, a pen takes notes. And my Pen takes these visual Notes.
Realigning the paradigm shifts