Kodak M35

Elemental Decision- Kodak M35 Review

I’m Sorry I goofed about this one. The M35 launched in a variety of funky colours in 2019. A simple single element plastic camera I kinda missed it at the time. I assumed it was just another version of the Harman reloadable my least favourite reusable disposable. Turns out I was wrong. This and it’s twin the M38 are a cut above the reloadables and may now be the best value model in it’s class.

Rail. Kodak M35 with XP2,. Oct 2020
Kodak M35 with Ilford XP2 Super. October 2020.As scanned when processed by AG Photolab. Click on Image for fuller image on Flickr.

Sorry Sino Promise in the words of someone else- I made the wrong decision and I apologise for that. This is not a clone of the Harman nor is it a reloadable disposable. It is yet another reasonable simple fixed everything plastic camera almost identical in performance to the Dubblefilm Show. And is probably made in the same factory.

At this point you may be wondering why I’m not saying sorry to Kodak. Trust me I do enough of that every day by wasting their film on crap shots. But actually this isn’t a real Kodak camera. Although Kodak in the last 40 years have had others make cameras for them, this isn’t even that. Sino just licence the name.

Kodak are clearly happy with this as the camera is on their website alongside the M38 which just seems to be a two tone variant with an upgraded flash.

No Ices For Corona. Kodak M35 with Kodak Ultramax. 2020
Dumfries, Oct 2020. Kodak M35 and kodak UltraMax 400. As Processed and scanned AG Photolab. Click on image for full size on Flickr.

Overview – Build

The M35 & M38 both are plastic bodied simple use cameras. Lets be honest, the design is not what dragged you here. They are identical Harman Reusable barr colour and not having the naff sticker. At least the day-glo colours have a bold impact.

The M35 comes in at least 6 colours with white logos. You can choose between red, yellow, green (light), purple (more pinky – closest colour is Pantone Viola), sky blue & candy pink . The camera I got came just in a blister pack with strap and instructions.

Kodak M38. looks the same bar the white ring. Kodak M38 promotional image from Sino Promise’s website

The M38 looks near identical except there is a usually white ring around the lens. It’s available in black, blue, Flame Scarlet (red), Yellow and white (ring is yellow and logos are black). As we’ll see it differs slightly in spec.

Kodak M35 promotional tech sheet
Kodak M35 promotional image from Sino Promise’s site. Note the Red and light blue versions are not pictured

Shiny Plastic but solid enough for the price. There’s a small decorative grip for your right hand but if you use you run the risk of fingers appearing in frame and trust me that happens .

Rosefield Mills I. Kodak M35 with Koak 400TX. Dumfries 2021
Kodak M35 and kodak Tri-X 400TX. As Processed and scanned AG Photolab. Click on image for full size on Flickr. Dumfries 2021

Specification

They have the same core spec with a a 1 element plastic 31mm 1:10 lens matched to a fixed shutter of 1/120. the film plane is curved to improve focus. The instructions suggest an 1m (3ft) to infinity focal range.

A single AAA battery powers the flash. I was struggling to understand why the M38 weights more (116.5gms v 100gms of the M35) but the flash appears upgraded with the capacitor rating rising from 70 micro-Farads (uF) to 120uF. Flash for the M35 is rated for use 1-3m.

M38 promotional spec
Kodak M38 promotional spec image from Sino Promise’s website. The M35 only differs in weight and flash capcity.

Turning the flash on also moves the Waterstone stop aperture out of the way putting the camera to the widest aperture f/10. I’m guessing the narrower aperture is somewhere between f/11 & 16. You can exploit this with or without flash (just drop the battery out) to give you little bit more exposure as light drops but at the expense of sharpness.

It has standard loading with access via a catch on the side. There’s an easy load uptake spool – simple hook the second sprocket hole on your leader over one of the small hooks and wind on. The film plane is curved. It has a thumbwheel advance and the shutter is cocked by winding on. the winder doesn’t cock per se but there a sprocket above the film plane that is turned to do so.

Rewinding is by standard rewind spool following depressing button on the base. There is no tripod point, cable point or lens covering.

No Bowling For Old Men. Kodak M35 & XP2. Oct 2020
Kodak M35 with Ilford XP2 Super. October 2020.As scanned when processed by AG Photolab. Click on Image for fuller image on Flickr

Why the confusion with the Harman

The Harman appears made in the same factory with same body shape design, 30mm 1:10 lens but it isn’t. The Harman has reloadable disposable drum system to load which is just awful.

Harman Reusable Camera
Harman Reusable Camera

What’s the thing with the Dubblefilm Show Then ?

Well – I’m gonna say it. these are the same or nearly the same camera.

Take a look at these shots of the M35 alongside the Dubblefilm and the newer Agfaphoto Analogue Camera which appears to be another clone. The new Ilford Sprite-II also looks similar and mirrors the Agfaphoto spec but i haven’t been able to source.

Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (l-r)
Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R)

Okay these are quite stylistically different but look at the lens, viewfinder, flash and flash switch position.

Top View of the  Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R)
Top View of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R)

But when you look elsewhere it becomes quite apparent these are at least closely related if not the same bar styling. The top plate only differs slight with the Dubblefilm having a different sized button and the cameras differing subtly in the moulding. But everything sits in place. The rear and base gets much more obvious

Rear of the  Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R)
Rear of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R). Yup they’re the same.
Base of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R).
Base of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R). The Dubblefilm is hard to see but identical bar the strap loop point

Inside all is the same too.

Interiors of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue  (L-R).
Interiors of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue (L-R).

The sides differs but only due to styling and wrist loop position. Worth noting the M35 and Agfaphoto share the same wrist loop.

The two ends of  the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue  ((bottom-top)
The two ends of the Kodak M35, Dubblefilm Show & Agfaphoto Analogue ((bottom-top)

Interesting the 1 sheet instructions with the Kodak and Agfaphoto use the same icons. The Dubblefilm used Jose Roda to design theirs so obviously doesn’t match.

Similar Illustrations with the Kodak M35 (l) and the Agfaphoto Analogue (r) instructions
Similar Illustrations with the Kodak M35 (l) and the Agfaphoto Analogue (r) instructions

Looking at the 4 cameras you’d be forgiven for thinking they have the same lens and aperture set up. Objectively they look the same but they all have slightly different specs. they all open up wide in flash mode

  • Kodak M35 31mm 1:10 1 1/120 smaller aperture not declared
  • Dubblefilm Show 32mm 1:8 1/125 smaller aperture f/11
  • Agfaphoto 31mm 1:9 1/120 smaller aperture not declared
  • Ilford Sprite 35-II 31mm 1:9 1/120 smaller aperture not declared

I’m actually wondering if this is down to averaging ? Could the wide be somewhere just over f/9 and is the lens actually between 31 and 32mm ? Dubblefilm maybe rounded to nearest full stops (f/8 1/125) ? And is Kodak, Agfaphoto & Ilford rounding in a slightly different directions ?

Sus 2. Kodak M35 with UltraMax 400. 2020
Dumfries, Oct 2020. Kodak M35 and kodak UltraMax 400. As Processed and scanned AG Photolab.

Results

It’s hard to see much difference in daylight over the Dubblefilm show’s image quality. The image is better than a disposable and centrally not too bad for a fixed focus single element. Although it softens on the long shots not too badly. It softens rapidly to edges.

Frothy. Kodak M35 with XP2. Oct 2020
Centrally pretty sharp for 1 element lens but falls off even by the Pedestrian. Kodak M35 with Ilford XP2 Super. October 2020.As scanned when processed by AG Photolab. Click on Image for fuller image on Flickr

Both cameras have some chromatic aberrations which are more noticeable in colour shots but again better you might expect. It has obvious pincushion but again no worse than other cameras in this class.

But there are times of sheer brilliance where you doubt you’d been shooting a single element plastic lens .

Silhouette 1. kodak M35 + Rollei Retro 400S. 2020
Dumfries, December 2020. Kodak M35 Rollei Retro 400S. Processed and scanned AG Photolab. Click on image for fuller photo on Flickr.

On the downside, It flares in bright light. In direct bright conditions that’s not in a good way but with thin cloud or it can be fine.

4 amigos. Kodak M35 + Trix-X 400TX. 2021
Dumfries, Early 2021. Kodak M35 with kodak 400TX. Processed and as scanned scanned by AG Photolab. Click on image to open bigger version on Flickr

Also as light drops so do these cameras quality. You’ll get good results in bright condition s with 100-400 ISO film but even 400 ISO struggles when things cloud over too much. turning on the flash helps not so much with fill in but opening up the aperture. But you loose image sharpness.

Ilford Sprite 35-II table. From Ilford promotional image on their site and various retailer

Oddly it’s only Ilford that have given a sensible exposure chart for these cameras. And I’d agree with it here.

So the Knob about 80-100cm is well enough exposed just about half a metre later

The reason the fill in doesn’t help is the flash is from the school of chocolate fireplaces. It is possibly the weediest flash I’ve use. You need to be no more than about a metre and a half away for to be useful. No wonder the M38 packs almost twice the punch by capacitor size.

Cost & Alternatives

In 2020 I paid just under £22 before P&P. You can now source these on the ‘bay for under £20. At the time of typing a pink one could be had for less than £12 with free P&P.

This places it as one of the cheapest new cameras you can buy and if you can live with pink even cheaper than some single use cameras.

Class rival

It’s construction rival look better. Costings Vary. But the cheapest of the Dubblefilm like cameras is the Agfaphoto which I sourced for £22 plus delivery from Kaleidoscope an off-shot of the UK Catalogue clothing company Grattan PLC. It’s available in 3 versions with only differing with the faux leathette in red, brown and black. It comes with a nice velour pouch. The Ilford Sprite 35-II seem based on this stylistically coming in all black or silver/Black styling but costs almost twice as much (£39.95GBP +P&P).

Dubblefilm Show
Dubblefilm Show

The Dubblefilm is more expensive still at £50 or more. Cheapest UK stockists I could find were analogue wonderland. You do get the designer instructions and erm.. case but personally I’d save a few quid and track down the generic Vibe 501F which is basically the same stylistically but for half the price.

Reloadables

Lomography Simple Use
Lomography Simple Use

Lomography’s simple use cameras deserve a mention here. If you can live with loading mechanism this is the best in it’s class made today. The Harman reloadable has a same lens and looks (bar naff sticker) as yhe M35 making it the best reloadable optically. But is let down by the awful (even by reloadable standards) loading mechanism.

More Vintage options

From the mid 70’s on cameras of this ilk were produced long before a digital sensor was a thing. The list is legion of cameras that had a similar or marginally better spec. Notable killer cams include the VUWS and it’s clones and the Hanimex 35HS.

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

Final Thoughts

Again I need to apologise. I was wrong to write it off as a clone of the Harman Reloadable. It shares the same lens and looks but in day-glo colours. But in fact is a class up and out with the shell the same as pretty much every recently released by film producers cameras.

But this is as good as any in the current crop of lo-fi plastic cameras made by or bearing the names of film manufacturers. That’s because it is mechanically and optically the same. They can be startlingly good in bright light with 200-400 ISO. They struggles as light fails though you can drop the aperture a bit by using the flash mode.

Tree Light. Kodak M35 + XP2. 2020
Dumfries, 2020 October. Kodak M35 with Ilford XP2. C-41 processed and scanned by AG Photolab. Click on image for original full sized on Flickr

The M35 does worse here than my Dubbblefilm due only to the flash. It is telling the M38 almost doubles the capacitor power.

But beyond that there is nothing to separate this class of camera (well they’re basically the same). if money is tight the M35 or better still the M38 might make sense. But let’s be honest beyond the funky won’t lose that in a car park colours they aren’t exactly pretty. So fair enough you can buy 2 M35 and some cheap film for the cost of the Ilford & Dubblefilm, they look better. And with the Agfaphoto camera being almost as pretty but just a few quid more than the M35, it’s down to personal taste.

6 thoughts on “Elemental Decision- Kodak M35 Review”

  1. I bought a Kodak M10 single aperture single speed camera in Oman in 1999. They were not sold in the UK. I really only bought it as it was such a simple camera and i had not seen one for years. As I also bought an Olympus mu-II (still going strong as well) at the same time and also had my Yashica FX-D and Rollie 35 LED (both still in use) it did not have a film through it for a while. However eventually a Poundland Agfa was run through on a nice sunny day and I too was amazed at the relative quality. Very little vignetting as far as i can see. I reckon Kodak might just specify, an pay for and better specified plastic lens. With sunny days back I think will put a Kentmere 400 through it.

  2. Another option for you to look at would the YAMA film MEMO M20 (https://www.yamafilm.com). Essentially (exactly) the same but comes with a hand strap and lists itself with the slightly “better” specs: f/8!

    My own test roll is here https://katieshootsfilm.wordpress.com/2021/04/05/yama-memo-m20/ – I have a roll of b&w loaded in it now, looking forward to see how it fares. I also have a Lomography reloadable in my fridge, always hesitant to try it out if it’s not a blue, bright day outside.

    1. Hi Katie. Nice review BTW of the Yamo. Yup probably is the same or near the same from a video I saw online. Has the same setup as all of these. Does yours open the aperture up when you turn on the flash ?
      I’m guessing they just rounded to nearest stop and to 30mm. Other than the Fascia the camera is the same and your shots are similar to mines in quality.

      As far as I can see the Yamo is only sold in Asia- I can only find it on Singapore, HK or Japanese sites). There is also a small scale film company called Manual in New York in the US that sells the their own variant. If you go on the likes of AliExpress you will see loads of similar cameras some branded (Vibe & One Shot) but others blank. You can order these whole sale with your Logo on if you’ve the cash. I suspect they all come from the same factory.

      1. Thanks, Alan. Yes, you are correct, the aperture opens up when you switch on the flash. I do wonder why they can claim f/8 if the others only claim 9 or 10.

        I’ve never seen the Manual! This looks like an opportunity for any small outfit that feels a self-branded reloadable camera can help in marketing or developing their business.

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