I last used my Olympus Pen EE2 in July 2019. It was working well and I was enjoying myself until the winding wheel refused to stop. It wound the film on and on, leaving me clueless as to when the frame has been advanced properly.
I forgot about any remaining frames, wound the film back into the cannister, developed it, and promptly forgot about the camera. It was not working and doomed to become an item of decoration on a shelf, but then lockdown happened and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands.
I took to cleaning my cameras inside and out, blowing dust out of every nook I could get to. The Olympus Pen EE2 waited in line for its turn. There was little point in cleaning it I thought, but I was curious to have a look at its mechanism and see if I could repair it somehow. I took it apart, marvelled at the cogs and myriad of small pieces wedged between metal and plastic. I watched pieces move in reaction to the press of a button or the winding of the wheel. I had no clue as to what I was supposed to do but it didn’t matter.
I blew dust away, clean every part I could access, a piece fell out never to be found again, and suddenly the winding mechanism appeared to work again. I moved the film across the back of the camera and stopped when a half frame was aligned. I carefully screwed the external pieces on again and took the next logical step. I grabbed a roll of film sitting on my desk unloved and loaded it into the camera.
From May to August 2020, I shot all 72 frames, using the camera exclusively on bright, sunny days when it performs at its best. I then developed the roll and well… I’ll let you judge for yourself.
I have clearly not repaired the camera.
The winding mechanism does work better but even that gets debatable towards the end of the roll. In spite of the many issues apparent in the images, I really like them. There is something ethereal and luminous about them, a dreamlike quality that reminds of the early days of lockdown.
The weather was warming fast, blue skies made a mockery of our bodies trapped indoors, and I experienced the streets and parks surrounding me in a way I never had before.
Thanks for reading,
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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