The Olympus Pen EE-2 was a point and shoot automatic camera.
Around the lens was both the selenium light meter and the dial to set up your shooting parameters. Default mode was to set the film speed and the camera would set the aperture/ shutter based on that and the amount of light coming in through the meter. I’ve never been able to find out for sure if the the shutter had just two speeds 1/40, or 1/200 of a second, or if it had a variety of speeds in between that. If it was too dark, the shutter release button would lock and a red flag would come up in your viewfinder. The lens is fixed. The focus distance is half a meter to infinity. Your zoom is your feet.
If you had a tripod and a flash, you could turn the dial all the way around to aperture size. That would lock the shutter at 1/40 of a second and you would have to figure out the rest from there.
This means that as a street snapper, you needed to be in a place with good light to use this camera. And pretty much everywhere you’d go in the world, that would be fine. But there’s a reason people use Leicas for this sort of thing… Aside from showing off how rich they are.
In both Japan and Korea, covered streets dedicated to pedestrian shopping (AKA “Arcades”) are common. For example: The lengthy Shimotori and Kamitori districts in Kumamoto. These would take a good fifteen to twenty minutes to travel end to end. Much longer if you were window shopping. Muuuuuch longer if you were visiting all of the businesses adjacent to these streets.
Miyazaki being half the size of Kumamoto, had a much smaller arcade. While it had a pretty healthy bar area for a city of it’s size (Let’s get real, all towns and cities have more bars than it’s size would suggest), it would take you much less time to get around it. If you were wandering around looking for local color to photograph, you would grow tired of it much more quickly.
Getting back to the point… These covered streets were a lot dimmer even though they had glass (plexiglass?) roofs, so a lot of times the Pen wasn’t up to the job. It did get a little better at night thanks to the store signs and street lights. The shot above was taken in the early evening. Even then, you’d have to use a more versatile camera if you wanted to try this sort of photography.
This shot barely went off as a result. They were posing for my friend Peter who had no problem walking up to people and photographing them. As such he was a much better photographer than me.
I’ll write about that in the next post.
Updated for a more accurate description of how the camera works.