A couple weeks ago a neighbor stopped in to drop off a bag of point-and-shoot cameras to me. I love free cameras, so I graciously accepted. Honestly, a lot of times the cameras I get like that are just cheap plastic throw-away cameras, but in this case I ended up with a jewel that is going to be a long-term member in my camera bag.
This camera is part of the era of AF point-and-shoot cameras-with-extras of the eighties. It sits along side cameras such as the Nikon L35 and the Canon AF 35, although the latter ML version came with an f/1.9 lens but don’t let that discourage you. This camera takes sharper photos (sometimes) than the AF35ML by a mile. It sports a 38mm f/2.8 lens and automatic exposure with settings from ISO 25-400.
It has a 3-blade leaf shutter and it makes the most interesting mechanical noise — ‘zzzZZzzt’ — when the shutter release is depressed. Hamish Gill over at 35mmc says it sounds like “if a robot could sneeze“. It may just be mine that does it but I’ll ask another photographer that has one if his does the same. **Sam over at The Unrecovering Photography Addict informed me this noise is the lens focusing before the shot.
Beep Beep Beep! You’re not going to do any candid street photography with this camera. Besides having the audible shutter buzz, it also will audibly let you know if you are under-exposed or too close to your subject. That, plus the tiny bit of lag means there’s some anticipation needed for shots.
It has the typical eighties pop-up flash and it works pretty well. It takes a few seconds after engaging it before it’s ready to use but it works well. It even has a green indicator light that lets you know when it’s ready. Honestly none of these on-camera flashes were really very good but it’s handy in a pinch. There are creative ways to make even on-camera flashes make good light.
One of the best features about this camera is its size and simplicity. It fits comfortably in one hand, and doesn’t have extra bulky extruding grips to give it a clumsy feel. It’s powered by two AA batteries and the meter seems to be perfectly fine. I actually had doubts about how well it was working because the audible shutter noise (that aforementioned ‘zzzZzzt’ ) was so ambiguous I suspected the meter was faulty and shooting at a default shutter speed (like 1/60 or 1/30), but this handy camera proved me wrong. All my shots metered correctly and very little was needed in post to get usable photos.
It’s a nice camera to have around. It holds its own against my Smena Symbol that I’ve raved about so much and brings features like auto-exposure and auto-focus with it. It has a nice film advance, a nice sold feel, and it takes good pictures.