Halina MW 35E Review : 80’s motorised flashy fun

Halina MW35E
Halina MW35E

Haking by the 80’s had produced a series of increasing complex 35mm compacts. The MW series of camera added motorwind capability and the MW35E is one of the best examples of these pre-autofocus Point & Shooters.  And despite some serious limitations, it can be a capable beast (during a recent holiday in Skegness it outshot a Olympus XA2 !)

The bridge
Halina MW 35E with Ilford XP2 (400asa)

The camera is probably best compared to a range of zone focus flash cameras that appeared around this time both with and without motorwind like the iconic Konica C35EF. Like many cameras  of the time it has paint it black utilitarian look and is a bit more bulky due to the flash and motorwind. So no design icon then

Specs

  • Lens:  38mm 1:4
  • Focus: Scale  or Zone (4)
  • Shutter: 1/125
  • Aperture: f/4 – f/16
  • Exposure: Auto
  • EV (100asa) :  11-15
  • ASA:  64, 100 & 400
  • Filter-Thread: 46mm

The camera uses a 4 zone system for focus which Haking had got reasonably good at with the Halina 35-600. Unlike the 35-600 and earlier compacts, there is an Olympus Trip like small prism window in the viewfinder which  allows you to actually see the focus settings.

What can you do ?
Halina MW 35E with Ilford XP2 (400asa)

On paper the exposure system is a bit more limited. It uses a CdS meter cell which quite neatly runs off just the 2xAA powering the flash and wind (other cameras in this error often still required a button cell for metering alone). The problem is that this matched with a fixed shutter speed of 1/125 and f/16 as the smallest aperture (Max EV at 100asa therefore 15). There are only 3 film speed options too which is a bit mean. The camera has a low light LED warning you to manually turn on the flash and a lock for the shutter button which cuts the CdS power. The camera is also cable threaded. 46mm filters are supported and as the CdS cell is on the lens exposure will automatically adjust.

Rogues Gallery Analogue
Halina MW 35E with Lomography 400CN

This doesn’t sound too promising but infact this can be quite a gritty wee shooter. Look at the shoots here by and large taken on 400asa film and some in pretty bright conditions but exposure remains good (probably banking on the fact that modern Colour negative films can support up to 3 stops over exposure).

Night Hawks skegness style
Halina MW 35E with Ilford XP2 (400asa)

Low light shooting can be pushed as well if you ignore the warning light. The focus is pretty good as well with reasonable good sharpness across the film plane. There can  be a slight vignetting effect in bright conditions but not too noticeable. I shot this camera side by side with a Olympus XA2 at Skegness in 2014  alternating colour and C41 B&W rolls between the cameras. Whilst both produced good images, the olympus despite having a much better exposure system struggled with focus (essentially the XA2 is fixed focus with optional 3 zone focus). In the end I uploaded about 2 Halina shots to Flickr for each Olympus one.

Blue Skies Lift
Halina MW 35E with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

I’ve shot 200asa at 100asa setting and things work well enough, just slightly underexposed

Diane cookin' in Kitchen
Halina MW 35E with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 400

The flash which is fine (GN of 35 at 100asa with recommended range of 1-3 m at 100asa) and does its job pretty well at all setting in that range.

Moths to the flame
Halina MW 35E with Lomography 400CN

The motorwind is pretty noisy but if you want to take stealth street shots worth noting that if you hold down the shutter the motorwind wont kick in until the shutter is released. Irritatingly there is no way of rewinding film until the roll finishes unless you rather pointlessly open the camera back.

I like this camera quite a bit. It is a bit bulky and the motorwind noisy but it gives good results despite the limitations with C41 negative film (I suspect you might struggle with 400asa E-6 slide film)

After the party
Halina MW 35E with Kodak BW400CN

These crop up on ebay fairly often. You’ll need to replace a small foam patch on the door which helps hold the film in position but this a easy thing to do. The series also included the fixed focus MW 35G and the MW 35S which was essentially an updated MW 35E with automatic flash, better ASA range & slightly brighter 1:3.8 lens.

Alternatives

  • Konica C35EF – Iconic flash P&S compact
  • Halina Micro 35 – More stylish but crippled Haking  compact flash
  • Pentax Pino 35 – Capable basic flash shooter with fixed lens

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7 thoughts on “Halina MW 35E Review : 80’s motorised flashy fun”

  1. I remember these well. It was good enough that Kodak had them make a couple of versions for them, the Kodak VR35 K5 and K6. They had a slower f/5.6 lens and fixed focus, the K5 being no metering and the K6 being a version of the MW35s but with the fixed rather than zone focus. I still have my K5 somewhere, I feel inspired to dig it out.

    1. Well spotted. Don’t think anyone had made the link before, Since I did the article I’ve come to realise that Haking made these MW35 cameras for lots of folk. I’ve not seen the 2 cameras you mentioned but suspect both Fixed focus ones. Interesting question is if used Haking or Kodak optics

      1. It was usual to utilise the manufacturer’s (ie Haking) optics, (although they’d have bought them in to a specification). It makes me smile when I see all the Cosina cameras badged as Ricoh, Minolta, Konica, Rollei etc with names like Rokkor, Hexanon, Zeiss etc around the lens spinner. I’ve dismantled enough over the years to see they’re all identical glass. None the worse for it though.

        Haking have always been capable of making very decent little cameras, but they seldom bothered to. I find that really interesting and curious. I wonder if they didn’t want to outshine their big OEM customers?

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