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Usually when I review an SLR I tend to caveat my reviews by pointing out optical performance depends on the Lens glass and don’t focus on that side of things. But with this Ukrainian beast it really is all about the glass in the form of the Helios-81N ( гелиос-81н )50mm 1:2 lens.

But let’s not ignore the camera and we’ll begin there.

Think of Soviet era SLR cameras and you’ll usually come up with the name Zenit or Praktica which many a British teenager cut their photography teeth on in the late 70s’ and 1980’s. But beyond the miriad of these M42 mount cameras there was a brief SLR arms race between 2 other Soviet camera makers.

In one corner we had Lomo the folks behind the LC-A. In 1979 they launched the Almaz series of cameras. Only the Almaz-103 sold in any numbers (the other varients were either prototypes or very small runs). All essentially were based on the Nikon F2 but with a Pentax K mount. You’ll need to pay F2 money to pick them up.

Nikon on the Dnieper

Then there’s the Kiev 35mm series. Made in Kiev by Arsenal (hence the name) the Kiev series weird goes from the Kiev 5, a Contax style rangefinder, to the likes of the Kiev-60 medium format SLR and the Kiev 80 & 90 Hassleblad type medium format cameras. And Arsenal are well regarded for the work they did with those medium format numbers.

But for 35mm things started weirdly. The first 35mm SLR they launched was the Kiev 10. On the plus this was the first soviet SLR with autoexposure. On the down side it and the later Kiev 15 cameras use it’s own lens mount making really only one for the collectors.

But in 1975 they launched the Kiev 17. This had a Nikon F mount but no metering. It would serve as the basis for the 1985 Kiev 19.

Kiev 19 montage shot Camera core specifications

The Kiev 19 (in Cyrillic Киев-19 ) is a relatively rudimentary SLR. It has a Non AI Nikon F mount and uses stop down metering essentially in theory allowing you to use almost any Nikon F mount lens from the 1960’s up to current day (note the in theory bit for the moment. Whilst it gains the TTL metering it weirdly loses shutter speed compared to the Kiev 17 with a shutter range from 1/2-1/500 sec plus B. those shutter speeds are set on a dial on the camera front. The ASA setting goes from 25-400 ISO again limiting it. Worth noting some versions have the older soviet GOST film speed setting (easily adjusted for).

Its a brute of a camera. At 932gms with lens, filter & cap on it’s almost 300gms heavier than my F75 with Nikkor AF-D 50mm. The viewfinder is big though and I found the viewing screen good. There seems to be some variation in that screen. Mines had just a circular microprism as does the one reviewed by Lensbeam. However Mike Eckman and Jürgen Becker (Through the F Mount) have cameras with a split focus spot and microprism collar.

The viewfinder has minimal display. There just 2 LED a + & – warning you of over and under exposure. Ideally you should get a + & – when you’re on the ball but I tended to find it wouldn’t level that often. However that makes sense to me as exposure is nver likely to e a perfect whole EV value.

Worth noting the LED’s are hard to see in bright light and you’ve no in viewfinder shutter or aperture info. The metering system seems to be the minor Achilles heel of the camera as it often goes. that said the Vertical travel mechanical shutter is not dependant on it. That one hell of a heavy shutter as it sounds & feels more like a early 70’s camera with the amount of mirror slap you get.

Use and feel

And of course this camera really does feel like a much older camera. To put it into context 1985 was the year that Nikon launched th F-301, the manual focus camera that would be the basis for Nikon’s first AF SLR (not counting the F3-AF weirdness). the F-301 is seen as consumer SLR below the likes of the FM2, FE2 and FA prosumer models, and boast all the features that mid 80’s electronica could offer. Of course that an unfair comparison but so is comparing it to the Nikon FM2 which is often seen of one of Nikon’s finest MF cameras.

In reality it feels more like my Nikkormat FTn. But here’s the rub. Like the Kiev 19 the Nikkormat on paper (and in reality) allows you to use most non-G class F mount lenses often with stop down metering. It also displays the shutter speed in the viewfinder and goes up to 1/1000 and can meter from 12-1600 ISO

And it really is lens compatible….

Helios-81N The Lens issue

The Helios 81-N (Cyrillic гелиос-81н – don’t ask me why the H becomes an N) is a bloody good lens optically but it isn’t exactly 100% F mount compatible in the same way as the Kiev isn’t exactly 100% compatible.

Helios-81N lens mounted on Panasonic Lumix G2 via adaptor. At f/2

Beginning with the Kiev. Yes i could mount a range of Nikon lens from my Nikkor-S 50mm 1:1.4 pre AI right through manual focus AI lenses to my new bought 50mm 1:1.8 AF-D. And you could use all of these but there was an issue with the step down mechanism releasing in all of them. So do-able but not ideal

The Helios 81-H meanwhile mounted perfectly on my Nikkormat but for the life of me it couldn’t mount on my newer Nikons like my F75 and the dSLR D50 at all. I’m not alone as these posts by Lensbeam & grokphoto describes. It’s in part down to the plastic skirt that surround the mount. If you’re feeling Gung ho you can file that off as the lensbeam post describes but that’s not for me.

It also mounted onto a cheap F mount to micro 4/3 adaptor allowing me to show these shots. Bear in mind that even ignoring the crop factor the adaptor added about a inch to focal length narrowing the aperture. It still shows the swirly bokeh even here.

Helios-81N lens mounted on Panasonic Lumix G2 via adaptor. At” f/2″

So why bother ?
Well the lens is quite peachy.

Lens appeal

Wide( despite only going out to f/2) you get a lovely swirly Bokeh. Not quite as good as the Helios-44 but still pretty mouth watering. Close it down and things go sharp, Aperture is in Half stops and the lens can focus down to 0.5m. It has 6 aperture blades and is a double guass construction with 6 lenses in 4 groups. The glass is apparently lanthanum  glass  which purportedly helps reduce chromatic aberrations. It’s also very slightly radioactive (negligible difference to background radiation and about 1/10000 less radioactive than Thorium glass lenses)

Mines has a 52mm thread but the one described by lensbeam had a 49mm thread indicating production variations. The close focus length also varies. The Glass set up is essentially the same between the 81-H, 81-avtomat and the later 81-M and the Arsat-H. there may be variants in the multicoating between these and within models. A good oversight can be found at allphotolenses.

The coating is not as good as western equivalents so be aware you’re in flare city

Costs and Alternatives

I got mines in unused condition in original box with all the expected gear including case from a Ukrainian seller for a penny less than £35. Postage took that over £50. And it is pretty immaculate and works as should. For the same money you can easily pick up a Nikkormat FTn with a lens. That’s a more capable camera but will be more likely in need of a CLA being potentially at least 43 years old and possibly over 50 !!

Helios-81N lens mounted on Panasonic Lumix G2 via adaptor. At f/2

Of course you can pick up a later AF Nikon like the F75 or F65 which for a few quid will not only have AF but all the perks that an electronic shutter system can offer with PSAM and shooting modes. Of course I’m well aware my F75 will be dead meat once the electronic shutter or metering goes and whilst my F75 will work with most lens from the AI era onwards the support is actually more limited for MF lenses.


There are 3 reasons you should consider buying this camera. the first is the lens and it’s likely you’ll struggle to source one for much cheaper than buying a kit with the body. As a prime lens thet you can use with Nikon bodies it is well worth hunting down although it isn’t 100% compatible and may need modification to work with your body.

If you’re a soviet camera fan with some Nikon Glass this makes a sensible if imperfect choice too.

The third and lesser reason is this is old school mechanical no frill shutter land and is an enjoyable enough experience.

But the problem is that you can pick up a more able Nikkormat FTn for the same money. Granted that’ll probably be needing serviced but its a beautiful piece of machinary

But the lens….mmmm hhhhmmm. I’ll be back with some film examples.

Other reviews & Stuff

As mentioned both Mike Eckman and lensbeam have reviewed this camera as has Alex Luyckx. Kosmo Foto carry a handy review of the Kiev 19M for comparison. Sovietcams as ever are a great starting point for information on this (as well as other soviet cameras). The wonderful Mike Butkus has the english manual for the 19M on his site but only the Spanish version for the 19.

The post It’s All About The Lens Baby – Kiev 19 Review Part 1 appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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The eagle eyed amongst you will have remember as well as the Halina Super-Mini I recently reviewed, I’d also picked up the flash version. But this offers exposure control as well as the built in flash. And Hey it actually is a museum piece !

Does that make things any better ?

Halina Super-Mini Flash. Image by the Science Museum Group. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Don’t our British museums do gorgeous images ?


The camera is an expansion of the Super-mini but with both Flash and exposure control. It would appear to be a mid 70’s design

The specifications are largely unknown. We know it’s a f/5.6 lens (‘cos it says) and that it’s fixed focus. The camera like the super-mini has a sliding body that serves to make the camera smaller when not in use as well as protecting the lens& viewfinder, covering the shutter and cocking the camera.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. Flash shot. 2019
What separates it from the Super-mini ?

There are 3 differences. There’s a built in electronic flash which is powered by 4xAAA. Bit excessive but this is quite quick to recharge

The second addition is a 3 position slider on the top to adjust the exposure and turn on the flash. This has settings for the Sunny, Cloudy and Flash.

Halina Super Mini Flash

The Third and less obvious thing is that the camera is geared to auto assess the ISO notch. This is pretty unusual for a budget camera. Back in the day 110 film was divided into slow/normal speed (64-120 ISO) and fast (400ISO). There is a ridge on the right side of a 110 cartridge but fast film would be missing the lower portion allowing some cameras to assess the film speed usually by a mechanical lever. This is seen on cameras like the Pentax 110 Auto SLR but not common in cheaper cameras.

Here it the lever if depressed (ie. slow film loaded) the shutter fires slower. In both ISO setting Sunny narrows the aperture (~ f/11 of f/16) whilst cloud and flash are wider (f/5.6). The non flash used 1/90 and 1/50 as it’s speed and it could well be what happens here too.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019

The lens whilst looking more complex is probably the same 2 element 25mm lens. It’s recessed as far and the simple reverse Galilean viewfinder shows the same angle of view.

Build and Ergonomics

My camera has the same 2 tone black and silver styling of the non flash version. Mines had a silver shutter button but likely as with the Super-mini there is variation

The body is plastic but the lens appears glass. A small LED beside the exposure slider lights up when flash ready.

The Super-mini moniker is stretching things a bit. this is smaller than most 110 flash cameras but not that much.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019 In use

The battery and film compartments can be accessed by a switch on rear allowing the door to open. The battery Holder sliders out (leaving a massive capacitor worryingly exposed). You’ll need to slide the camera open to load film. Closing and opening the camera advances the film and unlocks the shutter button.

Set the exposure for the conditions and you’re good to go. There is no low light warning circuit.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019

This flash shot would suggest a reasonable range of 1.5-3m with current in production 200 ISO films (these will be treated as slow). The subject is slighly overexposed at around 1.5m but the wall behind a further 1-2m away seems reasonably exposed.

Results Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019

The addition of the exposure control does make a difference for minor space sacrifice. This is most evident on the long shots which whist still soft are better.

Even at the Cloudy or flash setting closer images are pretty good especially with Flash. There’s a softness and granularity there but it feels not much worse than many a cheap 110 cameras. There not much radial distortion (a smidgen of Pincushion but you’re push to notice). Chromatic aberrations are evident but not bad. It vignette a tad when on the sunny setting.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019

Of course stuff up the exposure and things become a grainy mess. This is no where near as good as a Minolta pocket Autopak 430, but Haking deserve a B+ for effort with this as it is better than most cheap 110 cameras.

And that might be the issue…


This just isn’t that good nor is it that poor. If you wanna good 110 camera in this style the likes of the Minolta Pocket Autopak 400 series like the 430 just slaughter it optically. And whilst it is better clinically than plastic throwaway like the Halina Micro 110 it lacks there charm and Lo-fi images. It has no real signature.

Halina Super-Mini Flash with Lomography Color Tiger 200CN. 2019

And that’s a shame.
It’s not awful but just stuck between these 2 poles. I’m strongly reminded of the Halina 35-600, a 35mm camera I personally have a soft spot for. No where near as good as the Olympus Trip 35 on which it is styled but not lo-fi enough to be a Lomo classic.

The post Stuck in the MIddle ? -Halina Super-Mini Flash appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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Been a busy few weeks both photography and in life. I’ve realised the regular update is becoming a a bit irregular and given it’s almost 2 months since I last did one so say farewell to the analogue week and step inside from the rain to the warmth of the Analogue Arms and grab a pint or coffee from the bar as I give you a run down of what I’ve been up to and some other news that’s worth follow

Fur coat and nae Knickers ?.

I’d started this post back in April and some of the camera have already been reviewed. One was the £2 quid mju that became a disposable.

Olympus LT Zoom 105 and the camera that it’s based on the mju Zoom 105

But I’d actually also unknowingly bought it in more luxurious guise in the form of the leather clad LT Zoom 105. And it really does feel a better camera. But is this just a case Emperor’s New clothes ?

Out on the Yash !
Yashica MF-1 Super

I’ve previously mention that the folk behind the new Yashica were back with an analogue kickstarter. One camera teased at that was the new MF2, which is based on the Kyocera Era Yashica MF-2 Super. So you know I went out and bought one. And yup it feels as crap as I’d expected. However as usually the proof’s in the developed pudding so I’ll not pass final judgement before the stuff’s back from the lab.

I also go slighly less shabby Kyocera era Yashica. The T* compacts are some of the most sought after elite fixed focal length compacts and I picked one up. However it’s not the most sought after T3 to T5 nor even the T2 but the original T AF from ’86. Still it as some unique features and a Carl Zeiss T* lens.

Yashica T AF

Talking on forgotten cameras

The Canon that time forgot

Mike Eckman reaches a milestone of 200 camera reviews with the Canonflex R2000. Much forgotten these Canonflex series were Canon’s first attempt at a SLR but as Mike explores the design and development had issues and the camera became a footnote due to the Nikon F. It’s still not a bad camera for it’s time as you’ll see in his review.

Canonflex R2000 by Dogberryjr. This work is used and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.

Sticking with the Nikon F series, Alex Luyckx timely reviews the Nikon F3, a masterful retaking of the to Pro camera spot when launched in 1980. This iconic Pro SLR had a 20 year sales run and was still being made when the F5 was mean to be the flagship model.

Back in Time for Dinner Werlisa Color Club

On a more lo-fi note I’ve spent the week having step back in time with this Werlisa Color Club. Long before this site was up and running I did a review over at Lomography of the Agfa Isoly 100. Clunky by my standards one of the questions unanswered was the link to the Werlisa. Turns out the nigh on identical.

New Film Some Fukkatsu and Fujifilm Industrial. Yummmmmy !!

I’d loaded up with a pile of film too. Amongst an order from Analogue Wonderland came some roll of Fujifilm industrial 100 one of those current hip films. More interesting is Fukkatsu Colour 110 400 ISO. You’d be forgiven for thinking the resurrection of 110 was all down to Lomography. Whilst those Austrian Hipsters deserve much of the credit for a brief moment they had a rival in 2012. Fukkatsu offered both Colour & B&W but then disappeared as this FPP post explores. Luckily some expired stuff has resurfaced.

But another new film arrived in the form of Kosmo Foto Mono 120 film. Like the 35mm is arguably the best packaged 120 film on the market.

If you wanna go faster head over to 35mmc. Hamish Gill has shot a shed load of Kodak Portra 800 and discusses his progression in using this film which the rest of us can learn some handy tips from.

But if B&W is your thing why not in Kosmo Foto’s B&W World cup too. This is setting out to find the favourite B&W out there. So go on and Chuck in your vote.

And Finally

Happy 5th Birthday to Emulsive.org !!!

The post The Analogue Arms – Storm Brewing appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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“Hello Q. Got any special gear for this mission for me? “.
Q looked and sighed.
“After you crashing the Aston and losing the laser beam Rolex in the midst of the current austerity squeeze not so much. What happened to the rocket Launching Nikon by the way ?”

“Boom and bust Q”

“But anyway” said Q handing him a Halina Super-Mini.

“What ! not the minox ?”
“We had to sell that to pay for the bumper on the Aston! Double O. You’ll just have to make do with this”
“And what exactly  is this ?”

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

“The Halina Super-Mini is a 110 ultra compact camera double O.”
“I knew a Halina once Q, Lovely lass from Kattsjärten. Had quite …”

Q coughed. ” Not that Halina. This was made by W.Haking in Hong Kong from around 1974. We suspect it’s a copy of the 1972 Hanimex Mini which was likely made by Haking and designed by Hanimex’s Jerry Arnott.

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019

“By 1976  it was being sold in the UK Argos Catalogue for the discount sum of £7.95 GBP (RRP allegedly £10.95). For comparison Argos sold a Kodak 110 cartridge for just 88p !”

“I thought 110 was dead Q ?”
“It was until 2012 when Lomography and a few others brought it back”

For Your Eyes Only Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019

So what’s the Spec Q ?

“Ludicrously simple Double O. If the theory that its a clone of the Hanimex is right we’ve around a fixed focus 25mm lens with a fixed ~ f/9.5 aperture. Our French agent has evidence like the Hanimex in normal use the shutter is 1/90 but with Magicubes it falls to 1/50 of a second”

“Magicubes ? Is that a special laser guided missile, Q Old Boy”

“Much simpler Double O. Magicubes are a later version of flashcubes which were brought in as a simple version of single use flashbulbs. Like Flashcubes, each Magicube contains 4 bulbs which automatically rotate each time you take a shot. The main difference is that Magicubes don’t require any battery power to fire – they use a chemical trigger.”

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019 View To a Kill

“Explosive Stuff !! So how does it handle Q ?”

“You simply take the plastic chassis and gently pull apart. This opens up the camera revealing the lens. You’ll need to open it up like that to load film. There’s a small black button on flash mount side of the rear. When the camera is opened up and this is depressed the film door swings open. To advance the film you just close and open up the camera. There’s a point to the front for mounting Magicubes.”

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019

“However It’s reasonably well made Double O with the silver plastic looking like metal at first glance. You can even shoot all George Lazenby holding the camera the wrong way up”

Double O looked quizzical “But does it shoot like the Minox ?”

From Hong Kong With Love

“Its a Halina for Heaven’s sake, Double O !! So it’s going to be pretty poor. The camera is best around 3 meters. Its pretty soft even here but things fall off rapidly the further out you go. There’ll be no long shots of hidden ammo dumps here Double O. But close up it’s not the worse 110 lens I’ve seen. Just don’t expect macro shots”

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019

“It has a little fall off to the edges and just a smidge of moustache radial distortion. The lens equates to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera (not quite wide enough if you ask me)”

“You’ve no control over exposure other than bunging a Magicube in (if you can source one). However Lomography’s Color Tiger 200CN is relatively forgiving provide you shoot in reasonable light.”

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019 The Spy Who Loved Me ?

Double O Shuddered. “Gawd this sound awful Q ? Would you use really send me out with it?”

Q broke into a wild smile. “Only joking. We’ve been filming you all along Double O. M wants to use this as training video for new recruits to see how long they’d take to smell a rat”

“It isn’t great Double O. In fact the cheaper Lo-Fi Halina Micro 110 is better fun and almost as good optically. But for a lomographer like my nephew whom lent it to me, the super-mini may have some charm. Betcha Idris would like it?

Halina Super Mini with Lomography color Tiger 200CN. 2019 For Your Eyes Only

“My Money’s on Madden Q. So what are the alternatives ?”

“For actual quality ultra compact in a 110 format you’d need to consider the Zone focus auto exposure Rollei A110, Minox did make a very high end rangefinder 110 that you can source for a bit more but would still be less than a Hundred on a good day, There’s Leica prototype 110 but we’d need to ask M to raid the budget as they usually sell for over $10,000USD despite being a close version of the Minox 110. “

If the shape of the Halina interests you there is the Minolta Pocket Autopak 470 which has a detachable electronic flash unit. And if compact size and style are important consider the Voigtländer Vitoret 110 series.

The post The Spy Whose Spending was Reviewed – The Halina Super-Mini 88 Review appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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Once there was a legendary Japanese Camera maker famed for its detailed very compact cameras. But in 1988 they went very large with a camera with a passing resemblance to a star cruiser.

That camera was the Olympus AZ-300 Superzoom (aka Infinity Zoom 300 (US) and IZM-300). It would become one of the cameras that defined the term bridge.

AZ-300 with Ilford XP2. 2019 Zooming to the Stars

So Pentax unleased the IQZoom, the world’s first AF Zoom in 1986. Olympus like many other makes quickly followed. The first Olympus Zoom (AZ-1) arrived in 1987 and was a conventional model of the time.

But in 1988 the AZ-300 arrived . It was one of several cameras that turned up that that the press just couldn’t pigeon holed. Sitting between an SLR and point & shoots, these were cameras that bridged the gap. And lo ! the Bridge Camera term was coined. We usually link this to SLR type cameras with fixed zoom lens but this and later cameras like the Canon Photura clouded things.

These early Olympus Bridges are so unlike anything else the company did. We know the AZ-4, a full SLR bridge was a joint project with Ricoh that gave rise to the better known Ricoh Mirai. So it’s possible Ricoh had a role to play with the AZ-300 & rarer revised AZ-330. The rest of the AZ series were much more conventional.

Olympus AZ-300 Superzoom Specification
  • 38-105mm 1:4-5.6 12 element lens (11 groups)
  • Passive AF
  • Focus range
    • 1.3m-infinity (Normal) 0.8-1,3m (macro)
  • Automatic Exposure
    • EV100 Range
      • 3.5-17 (wide) 4-17 (Tele)
  • Metering
    • Centre weight (optional spot)
    • Via Viewfinder (not TLL)
  • DX coding – 35-3200 ISO
  • EV compensation +/- 1.5
  • Power 2xCR123
  • Filter: 40.5mm
Dumfries May 2019. Olympus AZ-300 with Lomography 100CN

The bulk of the camera’s size is in part down to that 12 element lens. It was the first AF zoom with a greater than 100mm focal length. Seven years later Olympus produced another award winning 35-105mm zoom compact in the form of the mju 105 Zoom which is just titchy in comparison and comes with just a 6 element lens.

There’s no optical stabilisation sadly (1980’s !!)

The viewfinder itself also adds to the bulk with a total of 6 lens elements. Showing a whole view more like a SLR, it even adjusts for parallax on macro shooting. It remains one of the most advanced viewfinders ever created.

AZ-300 with XP2. 2019

However the AF & Metering is not TTL so any filters will require compensation. Interestingly the camera uses a Phase differentiation passive AF system like a AF SLR. Most compacts use active AF

Build & Ergonmics

This is bloody big.

AZ-300 with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019

The camera is plastic bodied but quite sturdy. There is a proprietary cap which covers both the lens and the viewfinder. The camera is designed to held like a camcorder with a strap for your right hand. This is a reasonable approach given the bulk but…

Sadly things weren’t exactly that thought out beyond that. You could easily hold this one handed but the toggle for the zoom is on your left. Olympus do recommend 2 hand holding but they’ve missed a trick. The viewfinder sits heavily on the right and if you use your right eye and have a average or big nose it doesn’t feel the most comfortable. There’s no diopter adjust.

Dumfries, Early morning, May 2019. AZ-300 with XP2

There’s a LCD beside the on/off switch on the top plate. This shows the frame count but also the various modes. To the left of that is the zoom control and a button for spot meter. There’s a flip down cover just behind the LCD giving rise to 4 buttons controlling setting

Ignoring those for the moment. The viewfinder displays 4 LED symbols – AF lock, Flash Ready/charging, spot mode & macro mode. There’s no exposure info like shutter or aperture displayed.

Half depressing the shutter locks focus and exposure.

AZ-300 with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019 Advanced Controls & Modes

Olympus expected most sots to be taken in full auto but the 4 mode buttons give you a little more control

  • Drive – Single, continuous (1.5 fps), Timer and Double exposure
  • +/- – EV compensation +/-1.5 in 0.5 steps
  • Subject – Normal, Macro, Portrait, Whole Body & infinity
  • Flash – Auto, Off, Fill in

In subject mode the camera allows you to designate a portrait or whole body and in theory the camera will auto adjust the zoom. This does of course come with range limitations. At least there’s an infinity mode for long shots.

AZ-300 with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019 In use

Compared to 90’s and later cameras this unsurprisingly a bit slow to start up and zoom out. Zooming out is speedier. The camera is as noisy as the next late 80’s for winding and zooming. The auto flash mode is reasonably good and doesn’t intrude as much as later compacts.

I found it broadly focused locked reasonably quickly. However the passive system struggles with bland subjects (like the garage door). This is an issue shared with early AF SLRs like the Nikon F-401.

Results AZ-300 with Ilford XP2 – lens at wide setting

The wide end is pretty peachy close up and has relatively minimal distortion. The garage door shots are pretty good wide fro a compact but things are soft on the tele end with some noticable pincushion.

AZ-300 with Ilford XP2 lens at 105mm tele end

Exposure is pretty much on the ball in most circumstances and you have the luxury of spot metering for complex scenes.

Like all AF Zoom compacts long shots can be an issue. In bright conditions with Faster (400 ISO or more) film, you’ll not really notice. But the landscape setting is handy with slower speed film as the camera’s focus tends to be short with long shots. I had hoped passive focus would help but no. Still the landscape mode does make a real difference.

On Devorgilla Bridge 2019. AZ-300 with XP2

This is one of the few compacts that I’ve used that have taken good mirror selfies

Rare selfie with AZ-300 & XP2. 2019 What these cost

Well I paid £2.50 for this before postage. The current L5SE average price including postage is £9.98. So you’ll have no problem picking one up for a few quid


This is a weird Cul De Sac of a camera design. If it were a true bridge it would make sense and granted it had the first 100mm plus zoom for a AF “compact”. But within a short period of time people were squeezing big zooms into more conventional looking cameras like the ’91 Canon Sure Shot Mega Zoom 105. The market sought more compact models although SLR type bridges were popular.

Canon Sure Shot Megazoom 105. Much better and useable.

It is wonderfully over engineered with the state of the art viewfinder. With the lens wide the results especially close can be stunning and give SLR cameras a run for the money. However the tele end is lacking and the camera is limited against later rivals. Its a product of its time but the sure shot mentioned above makes more sense.

And whilst it is a very historic camera best left to the Olympus collectors. Not that it does anything wrong – there’s actually a lot to like. it’s just (a) massive and (b) there are better AF zooms.


If the bridge concept excites you Olympus went on to make the iS series of SLR bridge cameras which you can pick up for peanuts and are much better optically and ergonomically. However I’d also argue this is not the first bridge camera. Minolta made fixed lens zoom SLR for the 110 format beginning with equally spaceship like Minolta Zoom 110 SLR.

If early compacts are your thing, the Canon Sure Shot mentioned above is better too. Of course by the mid 90’s there were dozens of able and much more compact Zooms. My pick would be the Pentax AF Zoom but there’s loads more.

Other sources

Mike Butkus’s site has the manual for this camera and the AZ-330 manual is still on Olympus USA’s site. Lomography, Cheap Camera Guy and Quirky Guy with a Camera have also reviewed this.

AZ-300 with Lomography 100CN. 2019

The post In a Galaxy Far, Far Away The Olympus AZ-300 Superzoom appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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Regular readers will know I have a love for those cheap ‘n cheerful Lo-Fi cameras that other reviewers wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. But even for me there are some pretty inexcusable garbage that tries to pass themselves off as being a camera. Here’s my top 10 plus some views of others in what cameras you really want to avoid.

We have some surprises as we go from Halina to Leica in this list. But do you agree and what would you add ?

A matter of taste…

There’s plenty of cameras that are crap to one user and lo-fi gold to another (e.g. the Halina Panorama). This list is not about those nor those cameras that just disappoint but still take okay shots.

At this point some of you might be screaming a bad workman always blames his tools. But whilst that true some of these are equivalent to handing Michelangelo a blunt chisel and telling him to paint the Sistine chapel with it. Yes I suspect many of you could pick up some of these and take fine shots but really the effort and film wasted isn’t worth it

So here’s my ten in no particular order and I’ve also some picks from fellow bloggers at the end . But what would you add to the list ?

(1) Halina Silhouette Zoom Halina Silhouette Zoom

Possibly the most pointless camera on the list. You’ll not find the name Halina in any list of classic or top cameras. Haking’s own brand cameras however are often cheap and cheerful copies of better known cameras. And some are not bad.

But this is just mince. It looks like any other 1990’s AF Zoom compact. Except they left out the AF. Yes you heard right it’s over engineered fixed focus with pretty rubbish optics before you start zooming and exposure system with glaucoma. The question is why ?

(2) Barnet-Ensign Ful-Vue image taken by Frisno Boström. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

What the 40’s British Design classic ? Have you gone mad ?
Granted it does look pretty on the shelf but trust me, just leave it there. You can put a pig in ermine robes but it will still be a pig. This camera is just a reworked cheap 1939 box camera that had a rubbish lens and less features than a 1901 Brownie No 2.

Weirdly a design “classic” and weirdly collectable. Go Figure.

(3) Olympus Trip 500 Trip 500

The misuse of the Trip brand by Olympus is legendary. No camera that followed the Trip 35 would ever be deemed classic. But there’s many an okay and quirky camera with that moniker.

This is not one.

Oddly described by some as the Olympus Lomo (it’s not). This is just awful. The plastic lens starts off soft even when your at focal point and seems to have a DoF of about 3 inches. There’s tons of aberrations but not in a good way and it’s flash will tend to fire even in broad daylight . It’s glass lensed sibling the Trip 505 cost just little more in the day but offered a a huge leap in image quality and is a real contender for the Olympus Lomo title.

(4) Panorama Wide Pic Panorama Wide Pic 35mm Plastic Camera. Fixed focus shutter and aperture.

Pretty much ever job lot on eBay seems to come with these. I suspect its because folk are trying to rid themselves of these accursed items by bundling them with quite good cameras at knock down prices. This is a camera geared for taking panoramic shots but the absolute muppet who designed it set the focal point too close meaning things a couple of metres away are (relatively) in focus but anything further isn’t. And they are a curse because otherwise they’re working and none of us like binning a working camera. Hence they’re a job lot regular.

(5) Lomo Zenit 35F Zenit 35F

In 1987 those crazy Russians at Lomo decided they wanted a piece of the action that Simple Japanese fixed focus flash cams like the Konica Pop series were getting. It’s picked up a bit of Kudos for two reasons. The first is absolute tripe. It’s often found on eBay as a rare soviet camera. It would only be rare to find one outside Britain as over 75,000 were made and only for UK export. The second reason is the Minitar-1 lens also used in the LC-A. Works great on the LC-A, not so good on a fixed focus camera made out of pig iron.

Talking on Konica….

(6) Konica EU Mini Konica EU-Mini

Now Konica made some great compacts but the EU-mini isn’t one of them. Like many other cameras here it looks the part but it really isn’t. The lens is more dodgy than some campaign promises made on the Brexit referendum, with a woeful distorted & myopic view given. The exposure’s there but the view just ain’t. Trust me no one is voting for this option.

(7) Halina Micro 35 Halina Micro 35 aka The Hong Kong Lomo in Revue 35FC guise

Known as the Hong Kong Lomo, this is Haking’s take on the Cosina CX-1 & CX-2. For a Halina, it is well put together with an innovative sliding design and built in flash. Just a shame the lens is guff and not helped by the lack of a genuine exposure system. All Fur coat but Nae Knickers as my granny would say.

(8) Lomography Diana Baby 110 Lomography Diana Baby 110

Now Lomography deserve some Kudos for resurrecting the 110 film format. However they did their best to re-bury it with the Diana Baby . The concept was simple – ape the Diana camera as they successfully did with the Diana Mini and later the Diana Instant Square. Sadly they spent too much time designing the camera to look like the Diana, ignoring practicalities & the lens. unloaded the camera looks the biz. But it doesn’t look so clean loaded, has a shake inducing shutter switch on the lens (fine on the bigger format cameras but real pain here). There’s the flash sync completely useless as no mount or point for a flash bracket.

Then there’s the mess of the standard lens. It’s not so much as lo-fi soft but more totally out of any focus. Weirdly the optional wide lens is much more useable but the standard one is just rubbish. Just buy any vintage cheap 110 instead and save yourself a fortune.

(9) Minolta Riva Zoom 90c/Leica C2-Zoom Minolta Freedom (aka Riva) Zoom 90c

On one level when behaving these are straight forward and average performing AF Zooms from the early 1990’s. Essentially the same cameras with just some minor tweaks as you can see from this review at 35mmc. The problem is the Auto Standby Zoom (ASZ) feature. ASZ was intended to intelligently zoom the camera to compose the subject when you hold it to your eye. In reality you’ll end up with folks looking at you screaming at your possessed camera as the zoom flies about in an uncontrollable fashion. Funnily enough you don’t find it on a feature of cameras made today.

(10) Hanimex 35DL Hanimex 35DL

Again one of those cameras that sound great but are just crap. Why not give folks a camera which has 2 lenses built in. Now if the lenses were any good this could have been a lomographer’s wet dream but sadly these two had the ominous Japan made seal of crapness. They are just mince and are even just 10mm in focal length difference making the entire camera pointless. The body is also a brilliant example of the worst of the 1980’s.

If you thought that lot were weird choices..

Now I asked some fellow bloggers what they would list as their crappiest cameras. Boy did they let go with some gusto.

Mamyia Universal taken by Alex Luyckx . This work is used & licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

Alex Luyckx nominated the Mamyia Universal (which he reviewed on his blog). “the lenses and optics on this camera are top notch. The problem is that Mamyia had the chance for greatness building a medium format press camera and take advantage of all the ease of roll film, instead they built a roll film camera with all the unforgiving features of a 4×5. Not to mention an awkward user interface.”

Nikon Zoom Touch 400 taken by Jim Grey. This work is used & licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

Jim Grey of Down the Road suggested both the Trip 500 (see his review) but also the Nikon Zoom Touch 400. In his review he reflected that “My mom used this awful camera for about 20 years to record family events. Mom, I’m really sorry you had to suffer with this piece of crap for so long.”

Taken by John Nuttall from Hampshire, United Kingdom [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Mike Eckman went for the technological monstrosity that is the Konica AiBorg. “What I hated the most about the Konica AiBorg is that they had this idea to design an innovative camera with a unique body and fun bonus features, but gave it a viewfinder nearly as small as that from a Kodak Retina, the worlds slowest zoom, and absolutely horrible ergonomics.” Read his full review on his blog.

by Lies Thru a Lens [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Emmet Brown of Emulsive.org picked the Hassleblad 500CM with older C lenses. “Why? Simple. The reason why film photography “slows you down” or at least, the reason for that statement existing is the f&*king stupid bare scalloped metal rings on those old lenses. they slow you down because 73.4% of the time, you’re bandaging your fingers up (which will be bleeding by the second roll). If you happen to be shooting in hotter climbs, the burns will get you. Colder climbs result in lost skin, frostbite and ultimately, death.”

Lotus ME35 (clone of the Zenit) by Arty Smokes.
This work is used& licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto picked another Cosina CX-2 clone, the Chinese made Zenit ME35. ” It is without doubt the worst camera I’ve ever used. The ME35’s futuristic good looks are similar to the Kodak Advantix compacts / but in comparison it’s a resolutely unsophisticated. It’s focus free, has a fixed shutter speed and the aperture only changes with the ISO selection. How does it expose properly? By firing a flash as subtle as a nuclear detonation, whether you need it or not. “

So what did you think? Do you agree or disagree with these choices? Have we missed something that is just bloody awful or have we relegated an absolute classic to the bin ? Join the discussion below.

The post 10 Crap Cameras That Are Just Crap appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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You’ve got to give Voigtländer the credit for some very gorgeous cameras. But then again as the longest serving camera make in the world that’s not a surprise. But how does this mid 70’s simple 110 camera that I got for a quid match up to the expectations ?

This was my second Poundland Challenge 2019 Quid or less Voigtländer. Ironically it was the second Vitoret although the older 35mm version was sadly fungus encrusted.

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019 Voigtländer – A brief History

Voigtländer can trace it’s roots as far back as 1756. It not only is the longest serving camera maker name but is associated with key moments in photographic innovation. it was for Voigtländer, that Josef Petzval designed his famous lens. The 1964 Vitrona is arguably the first built in flash camera although you did need to screw in a battery grip to use.

The heyday of the company is often perceived to be the era from 1923-1956, when the company was owned by German Pharmaceutical Giant Schering AG. In 1956 they sold their shares to Carl Zeiss. And by 1976 the company was jointly being run by Carl Zeiss, Local government and Rollei.

Rollei Influence

Unsurprisingly it would be Rollei that provided the skills for the Vitoret 110. This was in the form of Heinz Waaske, the legendary designer whom came up with Edixa Reflex for Wirgin. He famously designed the Rollei 35, which Wirgin turned down. So Heinz took his designs to Rollei and the rest is history.

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019

He had 110 form, designing Rollei’s legendary A110 so the Vitoret 110 was on good footing.


Unlike the A110, this is a simpler unmetered affair. there’s a fixed focus Lanthar 24mm 1:5.6 lens. That lens is believed to be a triplet. The camera has no metering but offers 4 weather condition settings geared for 80 ISO film. The weather slider moves between 3 apertures (f/16 bright sun, f/8 for hazy sun and f/5.6 for light cloud all at 1/125). The forth setting (heavy cloud) remains at f/5.6 but shutter drops to 1/60).


The camera has a standard hotshoe. You can use any you want but
Voigtländer offered various mode from flash cube holders to full electronic flashes. The V200 is probably the best match and uses 2xAAA.

There’s even a Tripod mount (intended for the screw in wrist strap)

There’s a version with a metering called the Vitoret 110 EL. Similar to the Rollei E110, you set for good or bad weather and then the metering takes over. The EL can also sense the notch on 110 cartridges which were used in the day to delineate normal (80-100ISO) and High speed (400ISO) film historically.

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019 Build & Use

This is nicely made and although simple has a quality feel. It looks and feels like it is metal but is actually plastic. My £1 one came with the original box which had instructions, a wrist strap and pocket clip that slides into the hotshoe. This is one well thought out design.

To load depress a small button on the bottom. This allows you to slide the rear viewfinder cover to the side slightly unlocking the film door.

For scale with a VUWS clone

The camera advance is neatly twinned with the lens cover. There’s a slide on the front under the lens that sliding will open both viewfinder and lens cover. It will also unlock & cock the shutter and advance the film.

The manual suggest closest focus as 1.2m (4ft) and the good viewfinder has parallax markings for 1.2-7.5m (4-8ft).

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019 Results

This is a mixed bag. Shooting Lomography Tiger 200CN works well with this camera and the exposure settings. But given it’s a over a stop more you do need to be aware or you will over expose. The film’s lattitude is alright but don’t expect the range you’d get from Portra.

The lens is alright but compared to 100 cameras you can focus like the Minolta Autopak Pocket 430 it can’t complete. So on a few meters away things can be pretty sharp but on long shots, the Vitoret is pretty soft.

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019

It is however incredibly compact even by 110 standards and is much better than many a cheap fixed focus 110

This was gonna be a two roll review but the camera gave out with the 1/60 setting jamming on open.


There’s a lot to like here. A compact incredibly well designed simple camera. But the lens while not bad is not great. Now granted most better optic’d 110 cameras are much bigger but Heinz had developed an other 110 before he got to the Vitoret.

Of course that’s the Rollei A110. Almost as small but with full metering and zone focus. A bloody compact marvel and capable of highly impressive images that could rival even the Minolta Zoom 110 SLR and the Pentax Auto 110.

Rollei A110. Image by Alf Sigaro. Click image for the orginal source and info.
This work is used & licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

And that really is the Rub.
This leaves the Vitoret in an odd place. It’s not in the same league as the A110 but it’s much better than many lo-fi cameras. But it perhaps despite it weaknesses is too clinical and compared to really “cheap” cameras like the Halina micro 110 has little character

Shame as it seems so well made….. although mines failed I have got another so I may Revisit this. Although it wasn’t a cheap camera when launched you can get one for a £1-10 which makes it a bargain,

Other Sources

John Margett has a good review of this camera. A copy of the manual can be found at submin

Voigtländer Vitoret 110 With Lomography Tiger 200CN. Blackpool 2019

The post Small Is The New Sexy ? – The Voigtländer Vitoret 110 Review appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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As the Poundland Challenge 2019 has proved again you can actually buy a lot for a quid. So why don’t we take 2 AF compacts for a walk that cost around a quid and see what you get for your buck.

The Vivitar is a genuine £1 camera (plus postage) from eBay. The Ricoh ended up a tussle and came in at £1.04 before postage (ironically being the cheaper of the two once you add that on).

I’ve struggled to find anything about the Vivitar’s spec but at least we can find the Ricoh’s from camera-wiki.org.

Ricoh RZ-728 with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019 Specifications as Known Ricoh RZ-728
  • Lens: 28-70mm 1:5.6-10 Ricoh lens
    • Lens construction: 5 elements 4 groups
  • Active AF range: 0.9m-infinity (with macro)
  • Shutter: 1sec-1/250
  • DX Coding: 100/400 ISO
  • Power: 1xCR2
  • Flash (at 100 ISO)
    • 28mm Range : 0.9-2.5m
    • 70mm Range: 1.2-1.4m
Ricoh RZ-728

The spec isn’t that high for a 90’s zoom with a much simple lens construction & spec than either my favourite Pentax Espio AF Zoom or the Yashica Microtec 70. Notable is the poor DX range although today getting much other than 100, 200 or 400 ISO is quite hard.

Vivitar Mega 200 with Fujifilm C200. Dumfries April 2019 The Vivitar Mega 200

The Vivitar is a multi-element constructed 35-70mm lens but whether it’s as low as 4 elements or as high as 8 I can’t say. The Japan lens logo doesn’t inspire confidence. However the camera has 4 sets of DX pin contacts suggesting it can encode for a wide range of ISO. It also seems to have a more advanced exposure system from the options. It uses the larger CR123A battery.

Vivitar Mega 200

No idea why it’s called Mega and the 200 has no link to features. It reminded me in someways of the Samsung AF 105 XL in some ways in feel although the Samsung has a somewhat more radical design.

Styling and Build Quaility

Neither of these plastic shelled compacts are ugly by any means. The Vivitar goes down the brushed metal look. It’s the bigger of the two but feels more robust. It can be wielded one handed in full auto mode easily enough.

Vivitar Mega 200 with Ilford XP2. Carlisle 2019

The top plate has a large LCD with separate controls for red eye, timer and shooting mode. The shooting mode cycles between auto, flash off, flash forced on, slow sync, landscape, +1.5EV backlight & nightshot mode. The Zoom Toggle sits in natural postition for your thumb

The Ricoh is smaller and feels more modern with a shinier metallic finish. It is more compact but feels just little more flimsy. Like the vivitar it can be hot in auto one handed and has a similar layout for shutter & zoom toggle. The LCD is smaller but uses clearer icons to show mode. On the front of the camera is a macro button. Overall you have the choice of auto, red eye, timer, flash off, flash forced on, landscape, slow sync and macro modes . It importantly has no backlight compensation.

Ricoh RZ-728 with lomography 100CN. Carlisle 200

Viewfinder -wise the vivitar feels bigger and brighter but lacks the parallax & frame lines of the Ricoh. Both move with the frame. The Vivitar has both a focus lock and flash ready LED by the viewfinder. The Ricoh makes do with just 1 LED.

Ricoh RZ-728 with Ilford XP2. Dumfries 2019 Use

The Vivitar is faster to boot, shoot and zoom. The Ricoh is also one of those cameras which irritatingly charges the flash before allowing you to shoot in auto even on a sunny beach. But it is just slightly quieter than the Vivitar in winding.

I prefer the rubberised handgrip on the front of the vivitar to the ridge on the rear of the Ricoh. I suspect the Ricoh was made when LCD started getting stuck in the back of digital compacts. And if it was a digital compact holding it like that would make sense. But it’s a film camera not a digital.

Vivitar Mega 200 with Fujifilm C200

The flash tends to kick in just that bit earlier on the Ricoh as the light fades IMHO in 400 ISO. However as we’ll see that might make sense. The Ricoh also has that frustrating macro button to use.


Neither camera is disastrous but neither is gonna replace my Pentax Espio AF Zoom any times soon.

Vivitar Mega 200 at wide with Ilford XP2. Dumfries 2019 Ricoh RZ-728 at wide with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019

Both are not the sharpest compact I’ve used. However the Ricoh is just that bit sharper and requires less post work. It’s telling as some of the parallel shot were taken with Ricoh using 100 ISO v 400 ISO on the vivitar especially on the Tele end.

The difference is minimal on wide and at times I think the Vivitar wins out but that may be due to the extra wide you get on the Ricoh. However the softness is worse when you drop a speed or 2 with the Vivitar and it’s results at wide are worse than the Ricoh.

Both cameras have some pincusion distortion when wide. On the tele end the radial distortion is less. The Vivitar as a little pincushion whilst the Ricoh has a smidge of barrel distortion.

Vivitar Mega 200 at Tele end with Ilford XP . Dumfries 2019 Ricoh RZ-728 at tele with Lomography 100CN. Dumfries 2019

The Ricoh gets the exposure more accurate with the Vivtar sometime under-exposing


Neither is a great AF Zoom compact. They both take okay pictures but the Ricoh overall edges it with image quality and the wider end. A shame as the Vivtar is not that bad with options and easier to hold.

The problem isn’t which one is better really. It’s the fact you can get a whole better camera for the money.

Alternatives Canon Sure Shot 60 Zoom. 35mm AF zoom compact from 1995

The once market dominant AF zooms have become overlooked with their once cheaper prime lens siblings now being the sought after cameras. This means there’s loads to pick from. But not all are equal. The Pentax Espio AF Zoom is one of many fine examples of the Espio series (there’s also some stinkers). Canon Sure Shot zooms are also worth a look especially the high end Sure Shot Classic 120 (aka Prima Super 120/Autoboy 120) and the Older Sure Shot 60. Equally several Olympus mju/infinity stylus zooms are worthy.

Other Sources & Reviews

There isn’t much on either camera on line. Infact there’s really nothing on the Vivitar. The Ricoh fares better with Sylvain Halgand casting an eye over it and there’s a brief review on Point & Shot Film Cameras.

The post Budget Zoom-Off – Vivitar Mega 200 Versus Ricoh RZ-728 appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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“The nice thing about the Halina 35x is you’re not likely to get mugged for it and if you do you can use it as a deadly weapon.” The poor Hong Kong made 35x is the butt of many a joke and scorn in the camera world.

But this 1959 “Empire Made” viewfinder did sell rather well and has cult following amongst some. So is it really all that bad?

There are a few cameras that invoke strong reactions from photographers. To some the Leica M6 is seen as the pinnacle of almost two centuries of film camera design. Other like the Lomo LC-A provoke desire and disgust in equal measures (it’s the original Marmite Cam). But one camera is more often snidely looked down upon than any others in the same way Soviet Lada cars were to most Westerners. That camera is W.B. Haking’s Halina 35x.

Re-skinned (the factory version had black leather effect card) Halina 35x. the model is a later one as has a base not top plate rewind button and is self cocking.

It also is a camera that seems to provoke arsonist tendencies. You’ll be surprised how often folk seem to to want to burn it or cover it in Napalm (am I missing something about this camera eating babies or something) .

The 35x seems to have sold well particularly in the UK where many a 60’s Schoolkid seems to have been given one. Haking also continue to use the 35x title with both the 35x Super and the 35x Mark II appearing. The Super is more an advancement of the 35x with winder lever and better controls, the MK II is more related to the later Paulette series and may represent the transition from the 35x to them.

Halina 35x with BW400CN (expired). 2019 What is the 35x ?

The 35x is a straightforward simple 35mm viewfinder camera with a 45mm 1:3.5 Halina Anastigmatic lens. The lens is a triplet with coated front and rear elements. The camera is fully manual with an aperture ring from f/3.5-16 and a 2 bladed leaf shutter with 5 shutter speeds (Bulb, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 & 1/200)

The body is metal with a chrome plating and looks suspiciously like a pre M series Leica. However it is actually a close copy of the Ranger 35 made by Japanese make Nihon Seiki. This point is strengthened by the fact that both the 35x and Ranger 35 were rebranded under the Micronta brand (Micronta 35x and Micronta 35 respectively). Haking also sold the 35x under the Sunscope brand.

Halina 35x with Kodacolor 200. 2019

The shutter sits rear of all the lens elements. The manual indicates it syncs with M type bulbs at 1/25 for flash via PC sync. There’s a cold shoe mount, tripod point and it’s cable threaded. The lens barrel has rings for shutter, focus and aperture. Unusually the aperture ring is furthest out and turns on focusing. The Focus ring is marked in Feet from 3ft to infinity.

There’s manually set downward film counter. The camera accepts A36 (36mm) push on filters.

Depending on when the camera was made you might need to manually cock the shutter a la Smena 8M. However my one is a later self cocking model.

Halina 35x with Kodacolor 200. 2019 Build Quality

The using it as a weapon is no joke. The main body is solid. It’s not as heavy as some cameras from earlier eras but you’d certainly give your would be mugger a good wallop with it. The body has a black embossed card to resemble leatherette which you often find peeling off. This is why my one is recovered in vinyl.

The lens barrel is not so tank like. The camera has simple mechanics but is prone to issues with the control rings especially focus. I’ve seen reports of stiff, loose and even rings that have just come off !! Mines had an unnerving wobble in once you got beyond 20ft

If buying watch out for fungus. This is the 3rd 35x I’ve bought and the only one not to have a lens hooching with the stuff

Kodacolor 200 in a Hlaina 35x. 2019 Use

The camera film compartment is opened by turning a switch on the base & removing the whole back. Loading is okay but it has one of those take up spools with a small shiny metal strip to slide your leader behind that never seems to hold the film enough. You’ll need to set the counter once loaded. The viewfinder is small and minimalist

There are various versions of this camera. They often vary over the rewind button position. Mine’s has one on the base but others have a button on the top plate. The rewind knob is small and a bit uncomfy.

A word of warning. Whilst I had no issues with rewinding but others have done when they get to the end of the roll and half wind on before getting stuck trying to rewind. I suspect this an age wear issue with the older models but be conscious of this. In the worst case if it happens you’ll just need to unload the film in film changing bag or if you don’t own one shut the curtain in your bedroom ideally at night, close the door and get the lights and unload your camera under the duvet with a few blankets on top. The issue is the winding sprockets so should be easy to open back and gently respool film.

Halina 35x with expired BW40CN. 2019

The optical weakness of the lens does become apparent. The failure to coat the middle element doesn’t help as Kosmofoto’s Review of the 35x explains. I’d agree with Simon Dowling’s view re the lens becoming soft at below f/8 so by and large I tried to shoot at f/8 or above on it. Here centrally in closer shots it isn’t bad although things fall off to the edges fairly rapidly.

That brings it’s own issues of vignetting which is noticeable but just and to some of you that will be a boon. There’s some pincushion distortion but not bonkers.

radial distortion test. Halina 35x with Kodacolor 200. 2019

The camera is prone to flare (probably why it was sold with a lens hood). You also get some chromatic aberrations. It isn’t great on infinity long shots but then again my barrel seems quite loose at above 20ft.

However it really depends on what you’re using as a yard stick. It looks weak compared to an Voigländer Vito or Olympus Trip 35 but then so did a host of late 50’s and early 60’s budget European made cameras. A good example is the ubiquitous Ilford Sportsman which is probably worse than the 35x optically at f/8 plus. Whilst the sportsman is better made, it’s also crippled by a weirdly missing 1/100 shutter setting.

Halina 35x with (expired) Kodak BW400CN. 2019

oddly you don’t get “What do you call an Ilford Sportsman… “

There’s a kinda Vintage appeal in the images you get.


I wouldn’t pay more than a tenner for one of these (before postage). And weirdly you’ll end up paying this for a reasonable one. Worth getting a seller who offers returns as the fungus can be a real issue.

Halina 35x with Kodacolor 20. 2019 Conclusions

The Halina 35x is not a great or classic. You will not and should never find it in a top ten list of classics. But it actually is not as bad as the jokes and the incendiary views would suggest.

It’s rudimentary, heavy and can have issues. Optically my Superheadz Wide & Slim plastic lensed camera is better. But this does have a range of control for exposure.

It’s on the par or just lagging behind many a entry level viewfinder of the late 50’s and early 60’s in terms of results. There’s nothing to make it stand out however and the cheap construction might make you want to look elsewhere. It however may have appeal to Lo-Fi shooters.

I’d probably go for a self cocking model like mines and watch out for Fungus if you did want one. Also keep in mind the potential rewind issue.

In short better than an Ilford Sportsman bar build quality.

Dumfries 2019. Halina 35x and expired BW400CN Other Reviews/Info Some Alternatives

The Late 50’s and early 60’s are littered with many a simple viewfinder from Europe and Japan. As I’ve mentioned these are often little better but better made. A typical one are cameras based on the Dacora Dignette such as the Ilford Sportsman which I’ve already discussed.

Ferrania Lince 3 – another Dignette rebrand ! But somewhta rarer !

Japanese cameras would come to dominate with automated cameras during the 60’s with early models like the Fujica 35 Automagic but before that you can find things like the Yamato Pal Jr which looks very similar to Halina own much improved version of the 35x, the Halina 35x Super, which I reviewed earlier.

Kodak Retinette 1A

Viewfinders from Agfa Silette’s series are a slight step up. If you what to go for much better still some of the German made Kodak Retinette viewfinders are worth. And then there the Delights of the Voigtlander Vito.

If you like the 35x but wanna go even more Lo-Fi, Haking made a simpler camera just for you. It actually is better looking and is a hommage/rip off the a Fujica of the same name. It’s the Halina PET. Looks great but is much simpler and has a worse lens.

Halina PET

The post The Lada of The Camera World OR NOT ?- The Halina 35X Review appeared first on Canny Cameras.

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