lineage 5: slr half-frame pen

bodies 4 (not medical) and 18 lenses


Gothic shown with 38/1.8 Quite common

Olympus Pen F: Body PP = 02/63~08/66 Quite Common BO = 85 (u & w)

First SLR half-frame camera Mr Maitani's Pen F or now known as Gothic F due to the chosen script for the engraved fancy 'F' on front of top plate. Double stroke film advance. Optional meter which when fitted destroys the simple elegant lines. Early F bodies can display shutter related problems where the shutter will only complete its cycle when the lens is removed. Other than this easily repaired defect the camera is extremely robust. Produced from February 1963 to August 1966 some 175,000 pieces were manufactured.

Pen FT shown with 50~90 zoom Quite common

Olympus Pen FT: Body PP = 02/65~01/66 Quite Common, BO = 105 (u & w)

FT comes with integrated TTL metering system using Maitani's unique number system for matching meter read out to aperture setting. Whilst this in one sense was a move forward it came at the expense of a semi-silvered mirror and the nett result was less bright viewfinder images. This was addressed by producing the H Zuiko 42/1.2 super bright lens. Other improvements included a delayed action lever, single stroke film advance that followed much criticism of the older dual stroke, a new shutter block giving more reliable and accurate speeds, an enhanced range of lenses and later a black coated version. However in spite of these improvements the FT only marginally out-sold the F. Surprising. Compared to the V/F Pen, production of Pen F accounted for only 10% of factory output over the period 1963~1971; a remarkably small dividend for so much work.

Pen FV shown with 38/1.8 Quite rare

Olympus Pen FV: Body PP = 06/66~04/70 Quite Rare, BO = 185 (u & w)

My theory is the FV replaced the Gothic F thus offering users a fully manual camera, and the FT was the high-tech choice. The FV was in production within one month of the FT. Without doubt the FV is superior to FT, enjoying all the FT design improvements but not suffering the consequence of the integrated meter; the viewfinder image is much brighter than FT and thanks to an improved screen is actually marginally brighter than Gothic F. The FV is just as rare and in my opinion more desirable than the Pen FT black version.

Pen FT black shown with 38/2.8 pancake Quite rare

Olympus Pen FT Black (with E Zuiko 38/2.8 pancake) Body PP: 07/68~10/70 Quite rare BO = 300 (u & w)

As with all black versions these are very popular with collectors and can make upwards of $800 in the right auction. Much depends on condition of course. They are susceptible to paint damage and are regularly faked. The combination shown here is probably the most desirable; a truly pocketable SLR. The FT Black was marketed as the 'PRO' version. In addition, and true of all F series bodies, boxed versions can fetch huge price premiums over unboxed examples.

G Zuiko 20mm

Pen FT Wide-angle 20/3.5 G Zuiko Less Common 155 avg. condition - 250 MiB

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E Zuiko 25mm

Pen F/FT Wide-angle 25/4.0 E Zuiko Quite Common 125 avg. condition - 190 MiB

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G Zuiko 25mm Fast

Pen FT Wide-angle 25/2.8 G Zuiko Quite Rare 195 avg. condition - 350 MiB

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F Zuiko Standard

Pen F/FT Standard 38/1.8 F Zuiko Common 25 avg. condition - 100 MiB

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G Zuiko faster Standard

Pen F/FT Standard 40/1.4 G Zuiko Quite Common 70 avg. condition - 225 MiB

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D Zuiko slow Standard

Pen F Standard 38/2.8 D Zuiko Quite Rare 125 avg. condition - 225 MiB

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E Zuiko Standard or Pancake

Pen FT Standard 38/2.8 F Zuiko "Pancake" Less Common 225 avg. condition - 450 MiB

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H Zuiko 42mm super fast Standard

Pen FT Standard 42/1.2 H Zuiko Less Common 150 avg. condition - 400 MiB

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G Zuiko 60mm fast Med Tele

Pen F/FT Medium Telephoto 60/1.5 G Zuiko Rare 250 avg. condition - 450 MiB

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E Zuiko 70mm Telephoto

Pen F/FT? Telephoto 70/2.0 E Zuiko Rare 180 avg. condition - 350 MiB

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E Zuiko 100mm Telephoto

Pen F/FT Telephoto 100/3.50 E Zuiko Quite Common 60 avg. condition - 140 MiB

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E Zuiko 150 Telephoto

Pen F/FT Telephoto 150/4.0 E Zuiko Quite Common 60 avg. condition - 170 MiB

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E Zuiko 250 Super Tele

Pen FT Super Telephoto 250/5.0 E Zuiko Rare 200 avg. condition - 550 MiB

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E Zuiko 400 Super Tele

Pen FT Super Telephoto 400/6.3 E Zuiko Extremely Rare ??? avg. condition - ???? MiB

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Zuiko Mirror T Super Tele

Pen F/FT Super Telephoto 800/8.0 Zuiko Mirror T Extremely Rare ???? avg. condition - ???? MiB

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Zuiko Macro

Pen FT Macro 38/3.5 E Zuiko Macro Rare 300 avg. condition - ??? MiB

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Zuiko Auto Zoom 50~90

Pen F/FT 50~90/3.5 Zoom Zuiko Auto Zoom Quite Common 100 avg. condition - 220 MiB

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Zuiko Zoom 100~200

Pen FT 100~200/5.0 Zoom Zuiko Zoom Quite Rare 150 avg. condition - 270 MiB

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Annotations/abbreviations: PP = Production period, BO = Body only, MiB = Mint in Box, U&W = used and working.

Of course this page only gives you a flavour of the Pen SLR System; there is much more to learn about the body and lens combinations and how rare certain lenses are. Then, of course, comes the huge range of Pen F system accessories, some of which are unbelievably difficult to source, but ultimately very rewarding.

Believe it or not, the current climate surrounding film based cameras offers you the best opportunity to start a collection. (It was always thus). My definitive reference book will provide all you need on which to base either your own study or, even better, a collection. You can go to the book purchase page to order your copy by pressing here


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Posted 2004/12/12 Copyright © 2004 John Foster