2015 Another Year Reviewed in Film

So it is that time of the year again where I have a quick look back at what has been happening in the analogue world whilst eating the last mince pie and putting the Xmas tree oot for the bin men.

Festival glowers
Carlisle Jan 2015 . Fujica 35 Automagic with Fuji Superia X-tra 800 (expired ’02) at 200asa

Saviour of Film 2015 (Again !!) – The motion picture industry

Yup, you might think you shot a shed load of film but take just the latest Star Wars film was a long line of films shooting miles upon miles of film last year. This has finally brought film making back into profit for Kodak Eastman

Motion picture film remains Kodak Eastman only photographic product (they hived off still production to Kodak Alaris when Kodak went bust) but thanks to movie industry that part of film production remains in rude health. This isn’t just a Hollywood fad, movie makers world wide continue to enjoy using film as a certain Mr Bond can testify.

Kodak are now on the verge of launching their firs film camera (not counting Alaris on going production of disposable ones) in a decade – a super 8 movie camera.

New Product of 2015 – Something from Lomography (again)

Whilst a new Kodak (abet motion) camera whets our appetite for 2016, during 2016 the only real game in town for new products was lomographische AG. The best for me was the Lomo LC-A 120, brilliant taking the love or hate humble LC-A and giant sizing it to take 120 film.

You might not be their biggest fan but no matter how crap and pricey you view ’em they were the the only major innovators to market last year.

2016 should be more challenging.  With a resurgent Kodak, superheadz due a launch and Ferrania hopefully finally launching, things might be very different in 2016

Poundland Bargain Camera of the year – Nikon F55

Yuletide F55
Nikon F55 Film SLR with AF-D 35-80mm 1:4-5.6 lens

The Poundland challenge set out to find the best cameras money could buy for a pound or less. Over the last year or so 20 cameras have been reviewed and many more bought

Top dog turned out to be our latest review. A genuine mid noughties all singing dancing SLR body bought for just 99p (okay it came without a lens but..) with pretty feature loaded options. Okay it has some limitations with lens etc. but incredible tech for peanuts (actually 1p less if you get your nuts from poundland)

Runner Up Pentax Espio AF Zoom

Pentax Espio AF Zoom
Pentax Espio AF Zoom

The challenge flung up the fact that bar a few desirable numbers like the Contax G series or Olympus Mju series, most AF compacts could be had for almost nought, Many of the AF compacts were perfectly fine but this early Espio was one of the best and incredibly ageless in design.

Dubious Term of 2015 – “Japan(ese) Lens”

Japan Lens - not a sign of quality
Japan Lens – not a sign of quality

Any camera I’ve had this year with Japan or Japanese lens on it has proved to be pretty awful like the Hanimex 35DL.  Clear used to try and jazz up cheap cameras this term should really be a buyer beware.

The quality isn’t really redeming in a Lo-fi way such as you get with the multitudes of cameras with the color optical lens moniker. Avoid.

Most Enjoyable Camera to Arrive 2015 -Tied !

This year 2 camera spent more time than most off the shelf and proved to worth purchases over all else this year. Neither are technological marvels (infact they are both fixed focus and one has no changeable settings at all) nor do they represent significant milestones but both have  cult followings and it is easy to see why.

Joint Winner – Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim (VUWS)

Superheadz Wide & Slim
Superheadz Wide & Slim a current clone of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim

My superheadz version of this arrived in Feb and didn’t disappoint. Everything you have heard about this all plastic (lens included) fixed focus, shutter and aperture camera is true – it is bloody brilliant. Not really the poor man’s Lomo as it often is labelled – even the original VUWS that were sold in pound shops go for double figures these days but it remains in rude health and production under other names. The plastic lens is a corker with a lovely feel and pretty sharp although it does tend to flare (half the fun). Arguably the smallest 35mm still (and possibly ever) in production too and thanks to the like of superheadz a multitude of colours too. Incredibly fun to shoot but limited to a good day

Joint winner – Olympus PEN EE-2

Papa's got a Brand new Half Frame bag
Olympus PEN EE-2

This fixed focus number came later in 2015 but has seen plenty of action. Olympus’s Half frame PEN series ran over several decades and included the world’s most compact half frame SLRs. The E series was aimed at the consumer and the EE (1-3) were the entry level model with fixed focus. Wonderfully stylied this camera shares similar mechanics with it’s full frame brother the Olympus Trip 35. Despite being fixed focus the lens can be incredibly sharp in most conditions and it will still function when the light drops.

Worst camera to arrive 2015 – Halina Silhouette Zoom

The Poundland challenge brought a few mediocre cameras and this was a tough call to pick with the unbranded plastic panorama camera and the hanimex 35DL vying for this. I’ve also been serially disappointed by the Beirette K100 which probably has the worse lens of the year in what should have been a good camera.

Halina Silhouette Zoom
Halina Silhouette Zoom – frankly rubbish

Haking were well know for cheap and cheesy camera but they were often quite endearing and have a lo-fi charm. This vein continued with the likes of the Halina speedy 33.

The Silhouette has none of these charms and is dressed up to look like a modern AF zoom compact when in reality it is a fixed focus zoom with a poor lens. Not the worse lens this year but the package as a whole was awful.

High Street Retailer of the Year 2015 – Boots

Although Poundland remains committed to giving us cheap 35mm colour negative film and are a worthy runner up here, this year’s award goes to Boots who have made a  clear their support for film. They remain the biggest in store number sized retailer stocking film and whilst not all stores have room you can order to store online. They continue to stock a wide range of film in both 35mm and 120 format and for those of us without an independent retailer are a god send. They’ve begun stocking Lomography products alongside Kodak, Fujifilm and Ilford.

Supermarket stocking of film other than disposable cameras seems to be decreasing. Personally I suspect that this may be due to Fuji branded C200 production which is rumoured to have ended – they would see no margin in competing with Poundland at the lower end and not enough volume at £4+ a roll end.

Waiting, Waiting 2015- Film Ferrania

Yup 2016 and still waiting on the resurrected Ferrania starting production

Still good things come to those who wait, I’m always told…..

And Sadly departed…….

2015 sadly saw 2 further casulties in the film camera market. Voigtländer is once again no longer associated with film camera production (the original company is long gone but the name was used for the classic Bessa series of rangefinders made by cosina and marketed by Ringfoto). These were pretty much Leica’s only film rivals. Lens production however continues so the name remains.

At the other end of the spectrum both in price and spec is the death of the Holga, the plastic basic camera that helped launch the whole lo-fi movement and probably influenced Instagram and gave us the name of a Moshling. Still widely available and I suspect the multitude of models didn’t help as did it’s tendancy to be prone to issues like light leaks. The latter was originally part of the charm but I suspect once other Lo-fi cameras Like the diana F+ arrived that didn’t do out of the box, many folk went with them instead. Still luckily available but I wouldn’t dally.





One thought on “2015 Another Year Reviewed in Film”

  1. I always love getting an email saying there’s a new post from this site.

    Keep up the good work in 2016 🙂

    I bought some old Soviet camera last year (Zorki, Zenit), looking forward to testing them this year.

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