This 1961 Camera Was Ahead of Its Time

Olympus is well known for placing innovative and clever technology in their cameras, but that reputation goes back further than you might think. This neat video takes a look at a camera that is six decades old but features a fascinating automatic exposure system that allows it to function without any batteries needed.

Coming to you from Technology Connections, this intriguing video takes a look at the Olympus Pen EES-2. Part of a series first introduced in 1961, the Pen EES-2 was a 35mm half-frame camera. The camera is perfectly fine if unremarkable, featuring a mechanical film advance mechanism and shutter control, but it gets interesting when you consider the ring around the lens. What looks like a macro ring light is actually a selenium photovoltaic cell. This produces a voltage when light shines it, a voltage whose magnitude is dependent on the intensity of the light shining upon it. This voltage can then be used to set the exposure automatically by choosing one of two available shutter speeds and adjusting the aperture to balance it, even refusing to take a picture if the available light is insufficient. It is an early autoexposure system and an awfully nifty one at that, eschewing battery power for the very light in the scene the user is photographing. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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