• Johnny Wilson

Super Value Point 'N' Shoot Focus Free !!! 35mm Compact CAMERA with Hot Shoe

Updated: Jan 9

Look at that packaging. Like... do you think that's enough words? From now on I'm calling it the Blue Camera... I found THE BLUE CAMERA at my local tip shop. It's a shop next to the recycling centre that sells things people tried to throw away, it's great. And they were selling this for like, £1 I think? So I obviously bought it because it's an old camera, it's brand new: still in it's plastic wrapping, it's completely unbranded and it's got Made In China on it. What more could you possibly ask for!

Ok so I obviously didn't have massive expectations but I thought it would be fun to put a film through it and see what happens. It has every hallmark of being extremely massively mass produced; the instructions inside are written in *checks notes* 6 different languages, it's made ENTIRELY of plastic, even the lens is plastic, the only bit of metal it's rocking is the hot shoe and I'm not completely convinced that too isn't plastic somehow... it comes in that annoying vacuum molded packaging that is IMPOSSIBLE to open without scissors and has questionable phrases printed on it like "bright fashion colours" and "super value". At least colours is spelt the British way? Some very brief tech specs: it's fitted with a 35mm focal length lens with a f8 aperture and a shutter speed I'm guessing to be around 1/60 or 1/125 or some variable in between, basically fast enough so as not to blur when held normally. It has a super long erm... bit of cord... tied to it that must be the neck strap the packaging refers to, and it has a built in lens cap that works really well at obscuring the lens, but it also means you can't trip the shutter with it in your pocket which is useful. That is... about it... Oh and there's a hot shoe on there, more on that further down, but it's an incredibly simple camera. Like the packaging says: "point 'n' shoot". With your bright fashion camera.

To be fair it does look nice! In operation, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Being made of plastic, it's incredibly light and it will nestle nicely in your pocket providing your pockets are deep enough. I forgot I was carrying it around sometimes! 35mm is a nice focal length, wide enough to get most of what you point it at in frame but not so wide as to minimize subjects or introduce distortion. I don't know if I've mentioned but it's very plastic, did I mention that? But it actually feels really comfortable to hold and the little molded plastic grippy bit (that's the technical term we use in the industry) helps you keep a nice steady hold of it. Firing the shutter with the little button on top is really smooth actually and clicks with a very satisfying 'clink'. Despite being plastic it feels reasonably well made. The viewfinder matches the lens prism so you don't end up massivley overcropping or undercropping your shots. I've had that problem before. But the film rewind mechanism is a bitch. I've never found one so difficult to operate before. This is because the little plastic handle on the take up spool is a little bit too short so it slips away from your finger easily. On top of that the tension on the crank was the toughest I've ever come across! I wasn't sure if I'd loaded my film correctly it was that tough and I was only using 24 exposure films? I'd hazard a guess that there isn't much life in it and if you put maybe 5 or 6 rolls of 36 exposure film through the camera that crank is going to give up pretty quickly. I shot 2 rolls of film; both fresh rolls of 24 exposure Kodak Colorplus 200. The first film I shot in a week at West Mersea in Essex:

I quite like how the photos turned out, not really like, but they have a kind of vintage photography feel to them because of the soft focus effect of the plastic lens. That and, as I suspected whilst I was using it; that camera body light leaks like a cheese grater. A couple of my photos had a massive orange streak down them. Depending on how severe they are, light leaks can add a real artistic touch to your photos but they're better when they're at least controlled in some fashion and with this camera there is clear evidence of light leakage but not to the extent that it ruins the photos. Some people are into light leaks, some people aren't. So depending on how you feel this is either a positive or a negative. Here's a few examples below:

The second roll of film I shot was all night / dark photos shot with my Lomography Colorsplash flash unit coupled to the camera, but most of them didn't expose. That's mostly my own fault for shooting 200 ISO film at night with a fixed shutter speed camera. Out of the whole film only a couple worked out:

So if you're going to use a flash, choose a more sensitive film! Also one criticism is that because the camera body is so light I kept knocking my flash unit off the hot shoe, but maybe that's because I was using such an abnormally shaped flash unit that stuck out the front of the camera awkwardly?

I'd initially planned to just put a roll of film through this for a laugh to see how the photos turned out. I half expected them to be a blurry, incomprehensible mess. But to actually get some decent photos with a wistful soft focus and a golden light leak glow was a pleasant surprise! This is mimicking Lomography style results but at a very small fraction of the cost! The second roll of night time flash photos might have been a total waste but I'm still pleased with the photos I got out of using it. Here's the rest of them that I kept from the first film:

It's a limited point and shoot camera, so far as the more feature rich Lomography plastic fantastics are concerned, but despite being obviously mass produced as cheap as possible it actually has some features you wouldn't usually find on cheapo point and shoots and feels sturdy enough made to be used on a more regular basis. I'd planned to either chuck this or donate it back to charity after I'd used it but I might just hold on to it for now and put some other more interesting films through it.