10 Fixed Focus Wonders

Fixed focus cameras have lasted as long as consumer photography has existed and beyond from the Kodak Brownie launched in the 1890’s right up to date with the still in production clones of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim. Easy shooters often derided but popular with the public and pre-AF often the choice of the casual snapper.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Taken on Disposable fixed focus Kodak Fun camera (Camera in shot is a fixed focus Olympus XA1)

Over the years we’ve had ones that have no controls right through to fully automatic exposure models. Here’s my thoughts on some

1. The Classic Box Camera – The Kodak Brownie No. 2
Papa's got a brand new pre war box
Kodak Brownie No. 2 1930’s UK model
This classic 120 film box camera was one of series that Kodak produced under the Brownie name. But it’s important as its the camera give us 120 film but despite being around for well over 100 years. It is still easily available, works and can be sourced cheaply. Most of these are the later all metal versions from the late twenties and  early thirties but are incredibly reliable with a simple meniscus lens, 3 Waterhouse  aperture stops and a choice a normal or bulb shutter. As vintage a shooter as you can get. The only downside is a large negatives which give you only 8 shots a roll
Vintage on da Hood
Kodak Brownie No 2 with Kodak Portra 160. 2015
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2. The Half Frame Technological Wonder – Olympus Pen EE series
Papa's got a Brand new Half Frame bag
Olympus PEN EE-2 Camera
The mighty Olympus produced a range of cameras Half frame format from the 1950’s on. The selenium metered E series featured both zone and fixed focus models. The latter were given EE designation and feature probably the best optics of of any fixed Focus camera on the market. The  Pen E series also  features the the same selenium metering what you find on the trip 35.  The added bonus however is that you can take twice as many Half frame photos on a roll of film.  Only issue is not that cheap to get unless you get lucky as I did with my PEN EE-2.
Up the town
Olympus PEN EE-2 with AVP 200. Dumfries 2015
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3. The Modern Box – Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim (+ Clones)
Superheadz Wide & Slim
Superheadz Wide & Slim a current clone of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim
A modern plastic classic. Fixed shutter, aperture and focus with a quirky lens. Still made under Superheadz Wide and Slim  and other clones guises. One of the smallest 35mm cameras ever made. Plastic might not see a century out like the Brownie however. Recommended for 400 asa but on sunny days 200asa works pretty well.
Light Rail I
VUWS Superheadz clone with Ilford XP2. Edinburgh 2015
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4. Manual Controllable Exposure- Pentax Pino 35
Pentax Pino 35
Pentax Pino 35
Odd little basic flash compact with fixed focus and manual control of aperture. Basic but again has a class lens. Not too pretty but takes good shots and has the bonus of being flash ready
David's Den ?
Pentax Pino 35 with Kodak BW400CN. Carlisle 2013
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5. Halina Micro 35 (aka the Hong Kong Lomo)
Honey I flashmodded the kids
Halina Micro- 35 win Revue 35 FC guise next to a Lomo LC-A
This fixed focus Haking product which takes its gorgeous styling from the Cosina CX-2 could have been a classic. The lens on a good day is actually quite good and has built in flash.  The exposure system (if there is one) is a let down and may simply have a fixed aperture determined by film speed. Also sold under Revue 35FC, Ansco 2000 and Haking Micro branding.
Hut sponsorship
The Crichton, Dumfries, 2014. Revue 35FC with Ilford XP2
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  • Konica Pop – Classic Stylistic basic fixed focus flash
6. Flashtic Plastic Simplicity – Goko UF
Goko UF
Goko UF
Rare early plastic  Goko with their patented  Universal Focus system. The UF apparently keeps both close and distant stuff in focus with a fixed lens and Goko made its money by making lens and cameras for better known manufactures with this system. Here it makes a plastic fix focus actually rival some glass ones despite having a fairly wide fixed f/5.6 aperture.
Red Lorry...
Goko UF with AVP 200. Dumfries 2014
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7.  Olympus XA1
Olympus XA1
Olympus XA1 fixed focus 35mm compact
Second outing for Olympus with the unfairly, much maligned XA1. Deemed by many as the black sheep of the XA series family, This selenium powered ultra compact shares much with the The PEN E series in mechanics. Like all the XA , you’re stuck with the proprietary flash units only (the XA1 was given the worst, A9M so worth buying a A11 which you can still use with it). To me has a better traditional shutter button rather than the apt to stick membrane of the other XA’s. Downsides are it lacks the timer etc of the other XAs, there is  no cable support and metering is only for 100 or 400 asa
Unattended Kids
Carlisle 2014. Olympus XA1 with Ilford XP2
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8. Trashcam Fun – Color Optical Lens Cameras
Mintax PB852
Mintax PB852 – looks like AF SLR but not remotely like
This wide range group of trash cams all share a fixed focus 50mm plastic lens with fixed shutter and a choice of apertures. They’ve acquired a bit of retro cult status and range from originally freebie give-aways like the Time camera or the UK equivalent the Barclaycard Visa camera, right through to more dubious sound-a-likes like Mintax, Cannon and Olympic which some folk still try to pass off for more expensive brands. All tend to look like a SLR or other high end camera from the era they were made in and tend to have some mystery metal/rock inside to make them feel heavier than they are. All increadibly brittle and the viewfinder is pretty rubbbish but they actually can take okay photos. The Glass Lavec lensed Time camera is worth watching out for (but only one of several Time magazine cameras given away). worth a few quid but not any more.
The look out
Barclaycard Visa Camera with AVP200. 2014
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9. Basic but sharp glassed – Kodak 35EF
Kodak 35 EF
Kodak 35 EF 35mm fixed focus compact
This arrived as in a job lot for 99p in the Poundland Camera Challenge and what a find it was. Kodak had always had a knack of making simple but effective cameras but weirdly took the 70’s and some of the 80’s off from making 35mm cameras. The 35EF was one of several that relaunched Kodak back on the 35mm consumer scene in 1986. And what a camera to return with. This Japanese made has a fixed focus and shutter with aperture only changing with film speed but a really sharp lens. It also has low light metering and a manually triggered flash. Really very sharp with 400ASA (perhaps not so good at 100/200) but is getting a bit brittle.
Doon the street
Kodak 35 EF with Kodak BW400CN. Annan 2015
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  • Olympus Supertrip – With Zuiko lens
10. A (Good) Disposable Camera
Single use castle
Caerlaverock Castle, 2014. Ilford HP5+ single use camera with red filter held over lens
Huh ? I hear you say. Well these days you can pick up a good disposable camera for about a fiver. Many are loaded with 800 asa film that would cost as much if not more to buy (Folk actually buy these cameras to extra the film for that reason) and can be processed anywhere (the film in the camera is wound in reverse into the 35mm cassette in use, all your lab folk do is pop out the full cartridge in the end). If you buy a good un from the likes of Kodak, Fuji or Ilford (yup you can get B&W) the lens is pretty good and they have a built in flash. And lets be honest if you lost it you ain’t gonna be that upset.
On the wall III
Birdoswald Roman fort, 2014. Kodak disposable FunSaver camera
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