Kodak Star 735 : The Brazilian Job

This fixed focus shooter came to me as BNIB in eBay parlance. The camera was still sealed in its retail pack with film and batteries and was in pristine conditions.

Kodak Star 735
Kodak Star 735 fixed focus 35mm 1990’s compact

Kodak had a knack of making a good basic cameras but how did this 90’s time traveller fare ? Launched in 1991 the Star 735 was made in Brazil until 1994. A Kodak 735 exists which looks pretty much the same. Kodak also oddly for such a basic camera a rechargeable version with charging base station  (Star 735R) was launched in 1992.

I ♥ Toasties
Dumfries 2015 (No1 eatery in Dumfries  on Tripadvisor !). Kodak Star 735 with Expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN

Kodak Star 735 Specs (from manual)

  • Lens : 35mm 1:4.5  Ektanar
  • Focus Range: 1.4m to ∞
  • Focus: Fixed
  • Aperture : f/9 (f/4.5  with flash)
  • Shutter: 1/100
  • Metering: low light
  • Batteries: 2xAAA
  • Flash recharge: 5 secs

It was odd holding something made over 20 years ago that felt factory fresh. The camera has the same black plastic soft curves as most 90’s shooters. There is no real controls other than the on/off switch, the shutter button and manually activated flash. The camera utilises DX coding although I’m really not sure why as it’s fixed everything – it would only appear to trigger the low light levels at different levels. It is motorised with an easy load system. The camera has a clear fixed lens cover. I’ve seen these elsewhere and am not a fan as these can become scratched, gunked etc just the same as a lens making them pretty pointless

Minerva'd down the the lane
Dumfries 2015. Kodak Star 735 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

The lack of control was worrying. It’s fixed shutter and aperture means with 100 ASA film you’re looking as the ideal shooting range of 13-14 EV (hazy sun/light cloud). The low light certainly kicked in with 200 ASA if there was much in the way of cloud at around EV 100 ISO 13. I found you could get away with just ignoring the LED if light levels were just under. So 100 ASA film will only really be of use in really good weather.

Overexposed
Taken on a Kodak Star 735 with Kodak BW400CN (expired 2014) in brilliant sunlight resulting in clear over exposure. Dumfries 2015

The converse is true with 400 ASA film. The camera will overexpose by 3-4 stops in brilliant sunshine and although modern negative film has a bit of latitude it will show in very bright conditions. However it is still acceptable and 400 ISO works  very well in slightly cloudy conditions. 200 ISO is likely to be the best bet between the 2 and luckily thanks to Poundland this is widely available.

Poetic Gaff ?
Dumfries 2015. Kodak Star 735 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Focus wise things are better. Kodak have a knack with simple cameras like the Brownie and the 735’s 80’s predecessor the Kodak 35EF.  Like any  fixed focus camera it is probably best around 3-6 meters with things softening slightly at distance but still acceptable for snap shots.  Not much in the way of tinting from the 3 element glass lens. Things are a bit more  soft at the edges of the film plane. The pack this camera came with made it look like the sort of thing you’d pick up at the airport if you forgot your camera when off on hols.

Market square Dumfries
Kodak Star 735 with Kodak BW400CN (expired 2014). Dumfries 2015

Couple of points to note. The battery cover is tight and feels a likely break point in prolonged use. As with many cameras if the is no DX code on the film the camera will  by default assume you’re  using 100 asa. For what it is it does nothing wrong and if you want a basic chuck around shooter you can do a lot worse. Its glass lens is reasonable good but not quite in the league of Olympus fixed focus shooters but is better than the Halina Vision XF I recently reviewed  both technically with much better optics and a low light system.

Light curve
Dumfries 2015. Kodak Star 735 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Why buy

  • Easy loading & Motorwind
  • Cheap
  • Not that bad

Why not

  • No Exposure control
  • Pointless DX coding
  • Technically better cameras out there

What I paid and got

  • £3.69 + P&P
  • BNIB with all manuals, roll of Kodak Gold (expired 1995) and 2 corroded AAA

Alternatives

  • Goko UF – Rare but good plastic lensed fixed focus flash shooter
  • Halina Speedy 33 – Good Haking fixed focus with glass lens
  • Olympus XA1 – Underrated metered fixed focus compact
  • Pentax Pino 35 – Brilliant fixed focus with manual control

Other info

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