Olympus Pen History

Olympus Pen with fishing equipment

By using the half-frame format*, Olympus was able to reduce both the weight and size of the Olympus Pen. It featured a simple rear-winding mechanism, a D-Zuiko lens for superior photographic quality, and an attractive design that also made the camera extremely easy to use. The Pen was a compact mix of innovative ideas that triggered the half-frame camera boom of the 1960s and 1970s.

  • Cumulative sales of Pen Series cameras exceeded 17 million units.
  • The highly original concepts embodied in the Pen Series would eventually lead to the creation of the legendary Pen F Series half-frame single-lens system.

The first-generation Olympus Pen camera appeared in 1959 and the design process began with the concept of creating a camera that could be sold for 6,000 yen. The Pen combined the superb photographic performance of the D-Zuiko lens with excellent portability, and it was also used by professional photographers as a secondary camera.

Olympus Pen F

The most advanced half-frame camera that was designed as such from the start was the Olympus Pen F single lens reflex. The PenF was a very compact camera with interchangeable lenses. Its innovative design included a rotating shutter, allowing flash synchronisation until the maximum speed of 1/500. It also had an unusual viewfinder, with a system of mirrors and prisms, that avoids the bulge of the traditional top-mounted SLR prism.

* With a half-frame camera, you take twice the number of pictures that you would normally take with your roll of film. For example, you take 72 exposures on a 36-exposure roll, 48 on a 24-exposure one, and so on.

Olympus Pen Sketch

Olympus PEN videos

Watch a series of videos commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Olympus PEN film camera. These short videos highlight the entire PEN series, starting with the first PEN model released in 1959.

Click here to launch the series of videos.

The Pen Series — from 1959 to 1966

Olympus Pen (1959) Olympus Pen
Olympus PenEE (1961) Olympus PenEE
Olympus PenEES (1962) Olympus PenEES
Olympus PenD (1962) Olympus PenD
Olympus PenF (1963) Olympus PenF
Olympus PenEM (1965) Olympus PenEM
Olympus PenFT (1966) Olympus PenFT
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