The Half frame Camera List – All the 14 models you can buy new today

10 years ago when I started this site, I never though we’d see half frame camera generate much buzz, excitement and discussion. But in 2024 as exciting as the arrival of the Pentax 17 is, it joins a growing market of new half frame cameras. So buckle up to my guide to the 14 (and their clones) new on the markets half frame. From cheap single use half frames to high end £500 numbers.

Half Frame is really the oldest roll film format in use

Most of you will know that movie film led to 35mm still film format. As I discussed here, larger roll film was cut into the width that Edison’s team used when they developed the first commercially successful motion picture equipment, the Kinetoscope. They also added the perforations. But importantly motion picture film goes through the camera vertically. Therefore they used a half frame size for their films.

Film strip from early Kinetoscope

Part of Filmstrip of Butterfly Dance (ca. 1895), an early Kinetoscope film produced by Thomas Edison, featuring Annabelle Whitford. Shows the half frame used by motion picture. Image is in Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

That became the de facto standard during the silent era. More modern movies are shot a slightly smaller frame allowing for a audio trace alongside the image but are near this half frame layout

But what you might not know in the early 20th century, there was a vogue to use cine still stock in a few still cameras many years before the Leica 1 (1925) and other 35mm cameras appeared. And these by and large used the half frame size of the cine cameras not full frame. they used was around the same size as half frame. And this format was used in cameras like the early days of consumer film making.

Tourist Multiple (1913)
Herbert & Huesgen Tourist Multiple (1913) displayed open showing the film gate. Found in the Berlin Deutsches Technikmuseum. Image by Danipuntocom and is shown under CC BY-NC 2.0

Above is the Tourist Multiple from 1913. You literally loaded it with cine film (35mm still film stock was ~15-20 years away). You could shoot a whopping 750 frames with this according to this overview from Mike Eckman. And it had an impressive spec for its day and actually compared to many on our list.

4 half frame compacts
4 classic era half frame compacts. From top left clockwise Olympus PEN EE-2, Canon Demi, FED Mikron, Konica EYE

Half frame’s heyday was late 50’s through the 60’s allowing for ultracompact cameras that provided twice the shots a roll. But by the 1970’s film prices had fallen as had full frame camera sizes. And although the format limped on with cameras like the Yashica Samurai series it had all but died off by the turn of the century

A Plastic Rebirth

If we did this list back in 2014 only 3 names would appear as at that point only these two had started making half frame cameras again. In 2007 Japanese plastic camera makers Powershovel’s launched the Superheadz golden half.. This was simple box camera with 2 apertures and a hotshoe allied to a 22mm 2 element lens

Golden Half, A Half Frame from powershovel. Image Courtesy of Peggy Marsh
Golden Half. Image Courtesy of Peggy Marsh

It is no longer made but you can track it down on a certain auction site that rhymes with no way. I’ve not included it but you can see some sample shots on Peggy Marsh’s review.

In 2009 Lomography launched the Diana Mini which had optional half frame. As we’ll see they stuck with it and would add another camera. But both Lomography cameras had half frame as an optional setting.

But it would take upstarts Reto to shake things up in 2020’s for half frame to move from the Lo-fi novelty to more mainstream.

Why the Change in 2022 ?

As we’ll see Reto’s cameras are good, but they also arrive at just the right time for a few reasons.

As I joked in my 2022 review of the year Colour film had both become much more expensive and for most of the summer almost impossible to buy. I’d get almost coded “psst got some ultramax” type messages which would allow me to buy 3 not very cheap rolls. And scalping wasn’t helping, as was the lingering impacts of a certain virus and the worldwide shut down.

Cost ya

Although Kodak had started to resume production of photographic film supplies were not coming fat enough. And Fujifilm never restarted colour negative production, the mothballing turned in Kodak making film rebranded as Fujifilm.

Secondly the orientation appeals to new photographers who have grown up using their phone as their primary camera. When 35mm film gained hold our predecessor switched slowly over form portrait orientated box cameras to landscape orientated film. And when the move happened to digital the standard format remained landscape.

But not on phones. The first camera phones, like the 1999 Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210 the more successful 2000 Sharp J-SH04, switched to portrait orientation. And portrait has remain de facto with the rise of the Smartphones.

And Reto just hit that Zeitgeist also having curried favour with their version of the VUWS.

The Half Frame List

I’ve tried to scour the internet and here’s a complete list of what I could find. I’ve tested the bulk of these and where not I’ve tried to give as much info and links to other reviews.

Almost all prices are in UK pounds which for our American reader include sales Tax. Shipping is not included in that cost

The ranking is based on cost not quality.

So lets begin with the cheapest

14. Hayamou Disposable Half Frame – £18.63

Hayamou Disposable half frame
Hayamou Disposable half frame

One from AliExpress (and I’ve order one just to find out). I’ve met Hayamou before. I got a 12 exp roll of their film with the BHF-01 (below). This was a rebranded Colorplus 200. They didn’t sell the BHF but they do sell a what looks to be a full frame version on their AliExpress store with a roll of their film. Whether they make cameras or just do film is unclear.

This camera is also loaded with a 12 exp roll but you obviously get 24 Exp (nope the site says 21 to 23). No iso is given and they do make a 400 ISO film as well. It claims a f28 1:8 lens with 1/100. The camera is available with a transparent shell as above or with a range of more typical coloured plastic fronts.

Hayamou Disposable half frame in green
Also available in this soft green

Unless this turns out to be a gem, I’d give a swerve for our next camera which is a well known single use and shoots more than twice as many images. It will likely be found under other names.

Bottom Line

No idea really, but given the Ilfocolor costs almost the same and is a good half frame single use with more shots, at the moment I’d get that instead.

13. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame – from £19.50

Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame
Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame

This Chinese made disposable camera is marketed by the Swiss Ilford Imaging company (not to be confused with the Ilford that make camera film but they do share roots).

Poetic Stance. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2013
Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame, Dumfries, December 2013

It’s a surprisingly rewarding single use loaded with Ilfocolor 400 (likely Wolfen NC500 or derived from). For those brave enough it’s easier to reload than some.

Access Only. Reloaded Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame with XP2. 2024
Reloaded with XP2 Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. Dumfries 2024. Click on image for full size

Whilst it lags a little behind the best full frame single uses like the 2 element kodaks, it is better than many a budget single use and most of the reloadable disposables.

Bottom Line

A single use half frame that is also good and has for the brave reload potential

12. BHF-01 Half Frame and clones from £22.62

BHF-01 a no-brand half frame
A cheap an cheerful no brand the BHF-01 is available with a few different shades of leatherette

This not sold by British Heart Foundation,. The BHF-01 is a no brand camera sold on the likes of AliExpress. The site list price is about £18.80 but sales tax is added later just to confuse us Brits and EU residents.

I have seen it sold under some odd brand names. It is based off the full frame camera design that was used in the LensFayre Snap LF-35M and the Cylo 35mm. So like them you have a fixed focus 28mm 1:8 plastic lens with fixed exposure and a flash.

And if you see other no name half farmes if 28mm 1:8 they’ll be the same camera. If they have 30-31mm 1:9 (or erroneously a 50mm 1:5.6) they’re likely the same design as the Agfaphoto up next

Diptych sample
Diptych taken on BHF-01 with Ultramax. 2024

It is alright for the money image wise. The lack of a switchable aperture places it behind the Agfaphoto clones which shoot with a tighter aperture normally. This probably explains why the BHF-01 marginally lags behind optically. But it produces images that are okay to good for near subjects but a bit more mushy at distance as the Diptych shows . TBH I think the Ilfocolor single use beats it but not by a mile.

And it is the cheapest non single use option by a margin. I’ll hopefully have a review soon

Bottom Line

The cheapest reusable on the list is not awful but the dubblefilm clones are that bit better. But if cash is tight and you wanna go Lo-Fi on a tight budget this might tick a box.

11. Agfaphoto Half frame & clones – From £33

Agfaphoto Half Frame
Agfaphoto Half Frame is based on Agfaphoto’s clone of the Dubblefilm Show chassis

Basically a tweaked version of its frame brother the Agfaphoto Analogue. Both cameras are based of the Dubblefilm Show design. But there are other brands making cameras on similar designss like the Escura Snaps 35 Half. The Escura models are largely comic/manga based unlike their full frame peers which is a shame IMHO but you can swap out the paper skin

Hello Kitty Escura Snaps 35 Half. One of Several Snaps Half Frame cameras
Hello Kitty edition Escura Snaps 35 Half. promotional image

These differ from the BHF-01 by having a longer focal length ~31mm 1:9. Although oddly the agfaphoto and some models use a full frame crop factor adjustment on the lens which is listed erroneously as 50mm 1:5.6. They actually shoot at f/11 most of the time but have a Waterhouse stop that slides out of the way when you use flash.

Boyd's. Agfaphoto Half Frame. 2023
Agfaphoto Half Frame with Kodak Ultramax 400. Carlisle, March 2023. Processed and as scanned by Photo Hippo. click on image for full size on Flickr

Otherwise fixed focus with flash. Okay images with a retro good disposable feel

Read my view of the agfaphoto here and my review of the Escura is here.

Bottom Line

These models offer a choice of styles and are a step up from the prior cameras. A dual aperture is a handy feature. Not as good a s a Ekatr but still more than useable.

10. Holga 135 HC – From £39 + tax *

There’s a but here

Holga 135 HC. New Half Frame Holga

That but is not the fact it was the second camera I didn’t know existed until I put this list together. But it does exist and although the only site I could find selling it was major US photo retailers B&H & Freestyle. They list it as USD$49.99 but that will before sales tax. It appears based on the Holga 135 chassis used by cameras like the Holga 135 BC (commonest version with a vignette mask aka Black Corners) or 135FC (with built in flash)

so you get a 47mm zone focusable plastic lens a bulb option as well as cable and tripod points according the Freestyle. It seems only available in this black and brown version. I suspect the top switch is (but I can’t confirm) an aperture switch between sunny (F/11) or cloudy (F/8)

Now I’m a fan of the 135 BC, It’s more liveable with than the Diana Mini although build quality is typical Holga.

And that’s the but….. It is perhaps is Illustrated by the reviews of this (the only ones in existence) by Photodiox on Youtube. Their camera was missing the half frame mask !!! One hopes this just a random QC moment but you might wanna hold out until more reviews pop up

Bottom Line

Potential but QC issues , maybe wait until more reviews

9. Lomography Diana Mini – £47.50

dianan Mini & Diana F+
Diana Mini (Petite Noir Version) with 120 roll film Diana F+ (Edelweiss)

Although it’s no longer in production Lomography are still selling this and currently at discount and it’s widely available. It is the longest serving camera on the list and was Lomography’s 35mm version of their Diana cameras.

Diana Mini with Flash
The classic version of the Diana Mini in Blue and black is still available on Lomography’s UK site bundled with the pictured Diana F+ Flash. But for how much longer, Promotional image from Lomography AG

It offers both square 24x24mm as well as half frame. Technically you can switch mid roll but it’s not really advised especially if you lab process. It’s technically focusable in the same debatable way the Holga 120 is technically focusable. You get 2 apertures and a bulb option with cable and tripod point. There is only a proprietary flash connector for the Diana F+ flash but this is currently sold as a bundle with camera.

That bundle also includes an adaptor to let the camera use hotshoe flashes and concert the Diana F+ flash to use with hot shoe. and here’s the thing buying the falsh seperately now costs almost as much as the bundle.

John Watt & Sons
Carlisle 2013. Diana Mini with Lomography 100CN

It’s greatest and weakest point is it’s lens. At a good moment you can geta dream lo-fi image and then 10 seconds later absolute dross. There was collectability as at least 12 version exist and I suspect more editions are out there. Ironically it the classic version that is still available.

Read my overview of its demise here and my review here

Bottom Line

A real lomography legend sadly discontinued. at a £45 price tag great value as you’ll get the flash chucked in as well. It is one for the lo-fi fan though and a fickle beast at that

8. Holga 135 TIM – ~£45-60

Holga 135 TIM Half-Frame 35mm
Neal Wellons‘s image shows the Holga 135 TIM with both lens covered , one lens open for single frame and both lenses open for Stereoscopic. Image shown under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’m not sure if this is still in production but stock does pop up on some Chinese websites like AliExpress. I’m including this for completeness and it may sound odd but this was Holga 135 variant developed for 3D photography using stereoscopic imaging. That involves taking 2 images usually simultaneously just slightly apart. And the TIM does that by being twin lensed and capturing 2 half frame images.

Usually you’d see them through a stereoscopic view but you can make wigglegrams to give a faux 3d effect

Wiggle 3D created from Holga 35 TIM image
Wiggle 3D created from Holga 35 TIM stereo pair image

But here’s the thing. You can leave the shutter cover over one lens and shoot a single half frame via the other. As the shutter is independent you can then cover the lens you’ve used and uncover the unused lens and take another half frame before winding on.

Midsteeple detail
Dumfries, Feb 2016. Holga 135TIM with Expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN. Half frame single

The camera is key is the twin 31mm plastic lenses. Optically not the best on show here but you do get a 3 apertures a bulb option. But the biggest issue is look. Fine if you’re a 16 y.o Japanese School girl, slightly creepy on a middle aged bloke.

Read my review here

Bottom Line

No the the strongest half frame but the dual lens and stereo capability make it interesting but only if you’re a fairly young thing. Otherwise you’ll look creepy

7. Kodak Ektar H35 – £49.95

Kodak Ektar H35 Half Frame camera
Kodak Ektar H35 made by Reto

No other camera has contributed to current half frame Zeitgeist as this camera. Made by Reto but branded as Kodak, this a retro influenced half frame shooter with the same lens as the VUWS a 22mm 2 element plastic affair with a fixed f/9.5 aperture and 1/100 shutter. there is a built in flash. Styling is wonderfully done to resemble Kodak 126 Instamatics

Use Push Button. Kodak Ektar h35 + XP2. 2023
Kodak Ektar H35 + XP2. Carlisle Feb 2023. As scanned by Photo hippo. Click on image for full size

Arriving like a Hurricane in 2022 with a huge amount of interest and love. It is optically the best camera in this list so far. Of course it is trumped by the newer H35N which offers a better lens and more features. But this is still one of the best lo-fi half frame and one of the most influential cameras of the last decade.

Read My Review Here

Bottom Line

One of the most influential camera of the past decade and put half frame back on the map. Wonderfully styled and a good shooter. It’s biggest issue is the H35N

6. Kodak Ektar H35N – £49.95

Reto did not rest on their laurels with the H35, In late 2023 they launched an updated version the H35N.

Kodak Ektar H35N Half Frame
Kodak Ektar H35N

This updated everything. You get a hybrid version of that VUWS lens now with 1 plastic and 1 glass elements. The core aperture narrows to f/11 that helps sharpen just that bit more but you also get a second aperture when you turn the flash on (you can just drop the battery out to exploit) of f/8. There’s a cable point and bulb feature although annoyingly you need the cable to access bulb and you can’t use cable to activate the normal 1/100 shutter. There’s a swing in star filter and the camera is also filter threaded.

Bikes. Kodak Ektar H35N & XP2. 2023
Suomenlinna, Helsinki, October 2023. Reto made Kodak Ektar H35N with Ilford XP2. Click on image for full size on Flickr

It took an already good camera and just boosted it. It keeps the same retro styling but I prefer the old H35’s leatherette look. Not just the best plastic flashtastic half frame of the last decade but the best plastic flashtastic.

Read my Review here.

Bottom Line

The best under £75 half frame by far and arguably the best 35mm (both full and half frame) plastic flashtastic camera of the last decade and more.

5. Lomography Lomourette £65

Best summarised in 5 words – Buy a Diana Mini instead

Lomography Lomourette, Half Frame only version of Diana Mini
Lomography Lomourette. The successor to the Diana Mini

This is basically a feature stripped Diana mini. You get the same 24mm 1:8 lens but only one aperture (irritating the f/8, which was always weaker than the f/11 setting on the mini) and although bulb is still there there is no cable point or tripod point. Sadly no switchable frames either- only half frame

It comes boxed with the Diana F+ flash like the Mini does but penny pinching is evident here as you don’t get the flash adaptors.

The menu
One of the better shots I took on the Lomourette. On Ilford XP2. 2024

Like the Mini you do get some good moments but thanks to choosing f/8 rather than f/11 as the aperture, they’re less.

It was accidentally launched without fanfare and was sold at the same price as the more capable Mini although thing stand out even more as they’ve discounted that by ~£20.

They didn’t even stick with the heritage Diana name. It should have been the Diana Mini II, Diana Half or similar. But no -we got Lomourette ?!?

If this remotely appeals just buy a mini

Read my Review here.

Bottom Line

Go buy the Diana Mini instead, it’s cheaper, you get more bundled and this is just a crippled version of it.

4. Alfie Tych £299

Alfie Tych Half Frame
Alfie Tych. Note the absence of the premium lens (12 O’clock) on this standard model and the standard viewfinder

There’s a jump here in price but it becomes apparent. This is a British designed and is very much the Indie camera of the pack. I am sepearting it from it’s Tych + brother which has a premium lens for what will be obvious reasons

The Tych feels more concept than a finished camera. You get a novel built from scratch metering system which deserves some praise although I found issues on higher ISO. You can shoot fully manual or auto but you can’t adjust the aperture of individual lenses you’re better off using the EV compensation feature. There is an option to connect accessories via USB point but to date only a cable release has come about and no flash

The metering at 100-400 ISO is good but about a stop over on faster films. The standard lens used here underwhelms Alfie Tych with 30mm 1:8 plastic lens with expired Kodak P3200 @ 2500ISO. Minor tweak in Post

The body is a wonderful quirk design with a lens turret with space for 4 lens types. The standard £299 model has 3 of those filled with the standard 30mm 1:8, a brass pinhole 28mm 1:125, a zone plate 28mm 1:56 (TL:DR intended to be softer than pinhole). The premium as we’ll see adds a good lens.

And those lenses are the downfall with the standard model. The pinholes are really soft. And the standard lens ? It’s a single meniscus plastic lens that at best produces an image like a really cheap non brand disposable. It maybe out classes the Diana Mini/Lomourette but at least they do have some character

Shame as it’s otherwise a great concept camera

Read my review here.

Bottom Line

Wonderfully interesting concept camera with some really smart features. And it’s British.. Let down by the standard and other lenses.

3. Lomography LC-A Wide – £349

Lomography LC-A Wide which has optional half frame
Lomography LC-A Wide

Better known as an ultrawide full frame compact, the LC-A has a half frame as well as square modes providing you insert a plastic mask. The lens is very good but more so full frame. It has quirks as you’d expect from a 17mm 1:3.5 ultrawide. But its better than you would suspect. It uses a 2 zone focusing system.

It’s not bad at half frame although you end up comparing it to the H35N a lot. That’s testament just how good a job Reto did with that Lens to be consider in this company. Although I do think the LC-A wide wins out narrowly overall.

LC_A Wide in half frame mode with Kentmere Pan 400. Dumfries 2024

But it’s game over when you add in that this is backed up by good metering that auto control both shutter and aperture. And it has the same insanely long technically infinite shutter as the LC-A+ from which it’s evolved. Just as well it has both cable and tripod points. You can even use an underwater housing with it. You can even use the almost mythological LC-A Instax back apparently – if you can find one. All this makes it the most versatile compact you can buy today

Like our other Lomography half frames there is heritage here. The LC-A Wide is one of 3 Lomography AG cameras that are descended from the the camera that sprung the whole Lomography thang. That camera is of course the Soviet era Lomo LC-A.

Read my review here

Bottom Line

Incredibly flexible camera with a choice of frames making both a consideration for both full and half frame. Widest, quirky lens of this group with a host of other features. A Swiss Army knife of a camera

2. Alfie Tych+ – £499

Alfie Tych+ Half Frame
Promotional image for Alfie Tych+. The premium lens is at 9 O clock and lacks lens hood. Note the enhanced finder.

In brief this the same camera as the standard model. Your extra 200 buys you an upgraded viewfinder but more importantly the 4th premium lens (you still have the 3 on the standard).

That lens is 33.3mm 1:8 4 element in 2 groups developed by Jason Lane, an optical engineer per extraordinaire whose optics have been in space and the bottom of the sea but in his spare time is involved in the analogue community and is known for his Dry Plates and the Chroma lens. The lens does produce impressive images as the beta version shot taken by Hamish Gill of 35mmc shows which is similar to the sample images of the finished camera shown by Alfie Camera.

Shot taken on beta Version of Alfie Tych+ half frame
This was taken on Beta test version by Hamish Gil from 35mmc and used with his kind permission.

Whilst there are 1 or 2 reviews for the standard, I can find none for the premium except for Hamish Gill’s 5 frames with the beta pre release version where this image comes from.

Bottom Line

The premium lens would appear to be a game changer over the standard version but at a cost. Still one of the most innovative half frames you can buy and it’s British, but still feels more of a concept.

1. Pentax 17 – £499

Pentax 17 Half Frame
Pentax 17 – The new kid on the half frame block

In recent days a familiar name has return to the world of analogue photography. And Pentax chose to return with a half frame. And boy do you get a lot for your money. You get a triplet 25mm 1:3.5 which has a whopping 6 focus zones. Fully metered offering not just auto and program (the main difference would seem to be the flash) but a slow shutter speed and a Bokeh mode on a mode dial joined by dedicated EV comp dial. It is the only one of the above £100 models that comes with a flash unit and it also has a filter thread, cable point and tripod socket.

It’s the only camera here with a lever winder.

Pentax are clearly using this wonderfully engineered camera as a development bed. It’s easy to see how with some tweaks it could be full frame. And then odd motorised focus system where you select the zone as normal but when you depress the shutter the lens moves to that setting. This just screams next camera will use that for AF focus. But in fact that’s kinda what the promised us on their development roadmap

Pentax 17 with Kodak ULtramax 400. Image by and copyright of Hamish Gill of 35mmc fame and used with his kind permission

But for now we have the most advanced manual focus half frame camera compact ever made. I’ve not finished a roll in mines yet but the images I’ve seen in reviews have all been very promising

You can find reviews at 35mmc, Kosmo Foto and Casual Photophile.

Bottom line

It’s hard to see what more Pentax could have given this camera. Image quality from those other reviews are fantastic, and it has several modes and host of other features like EV comp.

My personal choices of these Half Frames

I’m trying to avoid this being a comparison list (except for the Lomourette get a mini it’s the same camera only better). But You’ll have your own likes, needs and budget.

But the three cameras that I’m still likely to using from this list next year are as follows. First the Kodak Ektar H35N, blurs the boundary between a plastic fantastic and a ‘proper camera’ all for around 50 quid. The Lomography LC-A Wide is an absolute Swiss army knife of a compact. But for sheer quality the Pentax 17 is a modern classic half frame with a host of features never seen on a half frame compact before


My thanks to Hamish Gill of 35mmc and Peggy Marsh of Camera go Camera for the images and Mike Eckman for the info on the Tourist. And to Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto for suggesting this

One thought on “The Half frame Camera List – All the 14 models you can buy new today”

  1. I bought the Kodak Ektar a year ago & really enjoy using it – it’s best for close range & events (not really as good for distance shots as a full frame). It even enlarges well, although the pictures get grainy (but since it is the look I want most of the time that works out).
    While the price on the Pentax 17 is high (which is why I’m not in a hurry to buy it right away), it is a good step forward.
    Interestingly, there Soviet cameras (Chaika & Aget 18) that included zone focus, film speed/ASA adjustments, & ability to adjust for lighting conditions (sunny, cloudy, etc). Perhaps someone can come up with a similar idea

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