This is a surprise new entry in the line-up. I was recently handed this camera by my father, who purchased it new on a trip to Asia way back when. It needed a new battery, but other than that everything seems to work just fine. The test roll is in there now, so I’ll find out soon enough what kind of pictures it takes. It may take a little longer than usual, however, as this is a half-frame camera. Seems a little silly that such a large camera takes such tiny photos, but it does.
The first thing you have no doubt noticed (you’re an observant one, aren’t you?) is that it looks more like a 90s-era camcorder than a film camera. Once you get past the oddball look of the thing, however, it’s a pretty standard 35mm camera underneath. It’s an autofocus SLR with a fixed 25-75mm (that’s a 35-105mm 35mm equivalent) f/4.0-5.6 zoom lens that takes standard 43mm filters. Operation feels rather agricultural compared with modern digital cameras; the zoom is loud, the autofocus is loud, the shutter is loud, and you can feel their actuation through the whole camera (though to be fair this may be due in part to the way it fits in the hand). It can be easily operated with one hand.
Controls for the zoom and shutter are placed as they would be on a camcorder. Film loading is on the bottom, with the film feeding upward. The on-off mechanism is a bit peculiar: the pop-up flash acts as the power switch – up for on, down for off. The user can control the flash actuation on the back panel LCD, along with a host of other functions. Some of these are truly unique and offer lots of possibilities for taking unique photographs. Frames can be exposed multiple times, including an automated mode that takes five shots in a quarter-second on a single frame. Time exposures can be automated up to 24 hours. The high-speed motor drive allows continuous shooting at 4.5 frames per second. Several flash modes are available, as is exposure compensation. This is an extraordinary feature set for a camera built in the late 1980s.
It’s a funky camera. Very non-traditional, simple to use but full-featured. I’m more of a manual control sort of a guy (OK, fine, control freak), but this is a very good camera to just screw around with. Blast away – it’s half-frame, so you’re able to get lots of pictures on a single roll of film. Want to play around with unusual effects (I’m looking at you, Lomography…)? The camera does all the work for you. Really, what’s not to like?