Half-frame Possibilities


I have been out of town for a couple of weeks, off to work in the utter wilderness of the west coast of Gwaii Haanas. I did shoot a bit of film on that trip, but it is still waiting scanning, and I have other films shot earlier that really should show up here first, if one cares about order.  So for Week 26 I am showing some of the half-frame photos I took with my original Olympus Pen, shot on Neopan Acros 100 a few weeks ago. You can find out more about my camera here – it has no light meter (these were shot with the Sunny 16 rule), zone focusing, only two working shutter speeds (of the four) and a terrific D. Zuiko 28mm f 3.5 lens. It is the camera that got me back to shooting film – I found it in a thrift store for $3, knew a bit about it because I had been considering a purchase of one of the modern digital pens and had read up on Olympus history. I decided to buy it and run a roll of film through it just for the heck of it, and it hooked me on film again.

What I love about the Pen, and half-frame cameras in general, is that one can shoot multiple frames to use as a single image and retain a reasonable aspect ratio. I mostly shoot diptychs and triptychs with the Pen with the intention of scanning multiple frames as single images. I don’t consider the parts as individual images, these groups are single images that happen to be taken with several shutter clicks, kind of like multiple exposures on different areas of the roll of film. Sometimes I shoot panoramas, both horizontal and vertical. Sometimes I shoot pairs or triplets of the same scene with details inside the scene changing, or I flip the camera 180 degrees between shots (I call those Fliptychs, there are lots on my blog here). I like the way this can abstract the shot, and sometimes I push the abstraction farther by toning the images with colour. For this roll I tried to include the various techniques, though there are many other things that can be done.  If interested, you can find a lot more images taken with this camera at my blog here.

Even though it seems that the best use for a half-frame camera is these multitychs (or polyptych if you don’t care to mix Latin and Greek in one word) this camera has an excellent lens and when combined with modern fine grain film the half-frame negatives can produce some very nice single images as well – and at 72 shots for a roll of 36, that takes the camera back to its original economical purpose.

For me (Olympus) half-frame cameras are not toys; this camera does far more to get my creative juices flowing than any other that I have used, film or digital. Of all the old film cameras I own, this is the one (perhaps the only one) that I will be taking in for a complete overhaul.






2015-HF-001-011-EditI published some more of these coloured flipped seascapes on my blog today, here.









 To open a large view of any image in the gallery below, click on it and navigate with the arrows to the others

16 thoughts on “Half-frame Possibilities

  1. Reblogged this on burnt embers and commented:

    Half-frame photos from the same roll of film featured in today’s other post, most of these without colour treatment. Trying to show some of the creative ways to use a half-frame camera, in this case an original Olympus Pen.


  2. These are so wonderful. They make me realize I haven’t used my Pen in a while; it needs to come out of the drawer! If I didn’t already have one, I would be buying one right now after reading this post : )


    • Thank you Amy! One of the reasons I got the Pen back out (in spite of needing some work) was seeing your half-frame shots a couple of months ago. The part that has taken the most learning, and I am needing to relearn it again, is where the actual frame of a photo is in the viewfinder. On mine it is somewhere between the frame lines and the outer edges of the view finder. It matters quite a bit with many of these multiple exposure images.


  3. Oh, man… these are excellent. I too have a serious love for half-frame cameras and the possibilities they offer. You’ve done some great work here with yours for sure. I’ve got several half-frame cameras, but my favorite is the Ricoh Caddy. I seriously need to get out with it again soon.


    • Thank you Daniel! I have only tried the Olympus half-frames. I think if I had a choice, I would get a Pen-F with interchangeable lenses or a Pen-D2 with a fast lens and wider range of shutter speeds.
      I know there are some others out there with very good optics as well. I have not heard of the Caddy before – it sure looks like a copy of the Pen which was the first of the popular half-frames though more similar in size to an Olympus Trip.


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  6. These are beautiful examples of creativity and beauty! I was looking for a Pen f a long time ago and the use and tips you provide make it very tempting for me to get one now. Thank you very much for this blog and the inspiration you provide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dirk! I have been looking for a (cheap) Pen F for years. There is no such thing I guess. I would love to have one though, and a couple of lenses.


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