Ah! Another strange beast. Not because its rarity; in fact, it’s quite a common camera, but take a look at it. How on earth did them people at Olympus manage to put a reflex camera into this tiny compact body. Well I guess that the vertical half-frame (18x24mm) helped, but still… No, it’s a joke, I know everything about cameras: the magic trick here is a double porroprism, which in my language sounds quite funny. Porroprism rigs are potentially much smaller than pentaprisms, which allowed them guys at Olympus to build an SLR camera that was smaller than a 35mm rangefinder.
Main drawback: the image will be dim as hell, but hey, it’s so small.
One curious thing about this camera is that I’ve heard that long since now, in the era of the all-analog film making the Olympus PEN FT was highly coveted by still photography pros in the movie sets, as it offered the chance to shoot stills with frame ratio similar to that of cinema cameras. Now, with the digital age being irreversible both in photography and film making, it’s no more than a curiosity… But hey, it’s shiny and chrome, and you and me know that the gods of photography favor those who shoot with style.
Aaaaaaand, yes, I always have one or two in my store cause they’re so cool, so now you know where to buy one.
See what an adapter can do? Of course focus is a little tricky cause this lens, the ‘FED Summar’ was collimated specially for its native body, which, I will totally casually add, is for sale in my store, bundled with the lens.
It’s a pleasant lens to use anyway, if you can endure the inconvenience of the focussing lever and the flare wide-open.
Someone once said that adapters were the most disruptive gadget in the camera industry: ten bucks and you can bypass the schemes of first brands. Of course, first brands don’t make them because they want you to use their lenses. Besides, it would be bad marketing for them to advertise that one of the advantages of your system is that you can use glass from competitors.
Let’s play a game. What is Baron I’s favorite thing to write about? If you said cameras, you’re wrong: as much as I love boasting about my cameras, Baron I’s favorite subject is Baron I. We’re going to leave Zenits aside for a minute and talk about how all this madness began.
First of all, you should know that Baron I has a secret personality. Much like Superman, I was born Baron I and I’m Baron I most of the time, but I conceal my camera superpowers below a much less awe-inspiring facade, just for not having to deal with nubile female groupies all the time. Let’s call this persona “Citizen I”. I must confess that sometimes I enjoy leaving my blue blood at home and mixing with the common rabble as Citizen I. Even though, my inherent, sheer, aristocratic aura spills out of me all day long, so it’s a struggle.
Let’s leave Zenits apart a little bit now and talk about another immense, glorious, immortal, victory of the USSR in the consumer goods field: the Kiev SLRs. Well, the first generation of them. It is not that the second generation wasn’t an immense, glorious and immortal victory, but I have two hands only, so I can only bash one generation of Soviet victories at a time.
If you think Zenits are not a nadir of design, here above is a Kiev 15. You can call it whatever you want, I call it butt ugly. But I kinda love ugly cameras, you know.
Look at this. Just LOOK AT THIS. No? Nothing special? Look twice. It might look like a Leica II with a Leitz Summar but it is not. This, boys and girls, is a FED S with a 5cm f2 “FED Summar” collapsible lens attached.
Why is it special, you say? Well, first of all, less than 2000 (yes, two-thousand) samples of this camera were ever made, and not all of them were supplied with the “FED Summar” lens. Add to this that this was produced in 1940, before WWII spread to the Soviet Union, so we can assume that at least some of them were lost during the war; plus, it’s 75 years since it was made… in short: it is a very exclusive item.
Guess what: I had another one a while ago. Just it wasn’t a rangefinder but a SLR. And bigger. This is important for a photographer. Size matters, and every photographer knows ladies like big. Well, it’s the one above. Yes, this “ARAX” is in fact a modified Kiev 88, which, incidentally is not even remotely related to rangefinder Kievs.
See, the Arsenal factory, the maker of the Kievs in Soviet Ukraine, made a little of everything, from military rifles to photo cameras. But more rifles. OK, you just need to know that all cameras ever made there at the Arsenal factory were called Kiev, regardless of their film format or if they were still or cinema cameras. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, camera production seemed to have completely stopped.