Nova 35F : Poundland Camera Challenge No 17

This basic 35mm Fixed focus flashcam had intrigued me on eBay for some time. So when I got a chance to steal if for less than a quid I leapt at it,

Nova 35F
Nova 35F a fixed focus 35mm flash cam’

But was it worth even a quid ?The camera is made in Hong Kong but the marque is unknown (if you have any clues let me know). I suspect there is a link to Hanimex or Miranda as the camera features a ‘Coated Lens made in Japan’ which worryingly sounds like the 35 DL‘s Japan Lens. Stylistically otherwise it looks similar to some haking models like the Halina Autoflash 35 but Haking were happy to use their own lenses and although they sometimes changed the name to match the brand I’ve never seen them reference Japan so a link seems unlikely.

Fade of Play I
Mouswald, August 2015. Nova 35F with Fuji Superia X-tra 400

Nova 35F Specs

  • Lens : 38mm 1:5.6
  • Focus: Fixed
  • Aperture : f/5.6 to ? f/11
  • Metering: none
  • Batteries: 2xAA
  • Filter Thread : 46mm

What we have is a fixed focus plastic bodied camera with 3 aperture settings using waterhouse stops. I’m guessing these are f/5.6, 8 & 11 and match a 1/100 fixed shutter speed. These setting are selected by sets of weather/flash pictograms displayed for 400 and 100 ASA. The flash has to be turned on manually by sliding the unit and will only fire if the aperture set to flash (f/5.6). There is a flash ready light but that about it although oddly for such a basic camera there is a 46mm filter thread and tripod mount (but no cable point). Batteries are not essential except if you need the flash.

Ewart Library
Dumfries 2015. Nova 35 F with Fuji Superia X-tra 400. Note distortions at edge

The lens is a let down to be frank (not surprising really given how I got with the 35DL). It’s a shame really as for a full manual basic camera everything else worked, but the lens is pretty poor here. Reminded me of shooting with a Lomography Diana F+ but without the charm. Frankly plastic lensed Halina like the 70’s Halina 1000 work better and compared to the likes of other fixed everything shooters like the Kodak Star 735 it is pretty poor.  Despite having a flat focal plane the edge of the shot blur and especially at wide aperture anything beyond the usual 3-5m  sweet spot seems soft. It does better at narrower apertures but vignetting starts at the narrower apertures.  In colour there is some chromatic tinting too. Still if your definition of a retro shot is bit blurry and soft this might be for you (and yup you’ll get more vaguely useable shots per roll than a diana mini)

Fixed focus reflection
Kingholm 2015. Nova 35F with Expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN

The flash is another issue. Oddly I didn’t use it but suspect will be week as you can only turn it on when at widest aperture of f/5.6. Worth noting that if you leave the camera between aperture setting the shutter stays open and can’t close until you wind on and take a shot with the aperture appropriately positioned.

So not a crisp shooter and IMHO for a funny crappy shooter there are more flexible options like the Halina 1000 if you want more flash control and retro styling. Still built in flash handy as is the odd inclusion of a Filter thread

Palmerston
Palmerston, Dumfries, 2015. Nova 35F with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Aperture wide at f/5.6 so blurring more evident

Why buy

  • Flash built in
  • Retro images
  • Filter thread

Why not

  • Rubbish lens

What I paid and got

  • 99p + P&P
  • Came with Lens cap & strap

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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