Escura Snaps 35 full frame version

Retro Chic Lo-Fi – Escura Snaps 35 Review

Escura are a name that have kicked around for a while. This HK & Thai based company are best known for their Kickstarters. A retro instax and the Hasselback – the long delayed Instax back. But they make other cameras and faster that you can say Dubblefilm Show clone, I ordered the Escura Snaps 35, a delightfully shabby chic styled erm….. Dubblefilm clone.

Exchange I. Escura Snaps 35 & XP2. 2023
This class of Camera works bets with a near object but can do well with some background play centrally. Escura Snaps 35 &XP2. Carlisle, Oct 2023. Click on image for full size

Escura is an interesting company. It was set up by as a Thai- Hong Kong Partnership. The 2 Thai partners both ran Analogue photography related businesses. The HK pair made up Carbon whom had a track record of making retro camera stuff. Notably the CARBON Mini One a lo-fi Digital designed to look like a Polaroid One Step.

Escura Snaps 35

It looks heavily driven by the HK contingent now . The company has sent other products such as record turntables into design shows. But actual products remain photo related with their cameras and their own lines of film (likely rebadged or from master rolls)

And what does every film camera company need these days (bar Leica) ?

That’s right a Plastic-fantastic

Welcome to the Escura Snaps 35

To Let. Escura Snaps 35 + ColorPlus. 2023
Carlisle Oct 2023. Escura Snaps 35 with Kodak ColorPlus 200. Click on image for full size

Hippy, Jingoistic or Brexit Battered ?

Lets get this out of the way these are Dubblefilm Show clone. But credit to Escure they have made a little twist

Whilst most of the pack have gone for retro inspired Like the Ilford Sprite-35 II or the Agfaphoto Analogue. These are different. And not in the day-glo colours of some models like the more brash Dubblefilm or Vibe version.

Escure chose to skin their models. The only other product to do this was the Lensfayre Snap LF-35M which is rarer non Dubblefilm Clone (but very similar)

The Escura Snap 35 Showa or Escura Snap 35 1970’s Loo Wallpaper. Promo image from Escura website used for illustrative purposes

Some skins are better than others. My one comes with this lovely worn retro Union Jack design called Hippy (yeah me neither ?). There are 2 Dragonball designs if you like that sort of thing, a blocky red blue and white design called mandarin and the then there’s Showa.

The showa model I guess is meant to be Japanese inspired but I’m sure was used as toilet wallpaer in the 1970’s.

The cover is however behind a plastic cover which you can pop off. This could be handy if you feel your union jack is maybe just getting a bit to Jingoistic and potentially allows you to substitute your own.

Escura Snaps 35 Half and Agfaphoto Half frame
Escura Snaps 35 Half (here in Chibi One Piece guise) is basically the same as the more available Agfaphoto half frame (bottom)

As well a the full frames there are the Escura Show 35 Half, these are modified from the full frame version with a mask in film compartment and gearing changes to shoot half frame. Much harder and expensive to find as Escura doesn’t seem to sell them now. It is basically the same as the Agfaphoto Half-Frame but we’ll have a review of one soon.

Gianni's. Escura Snaps 35 with XP2. 2023
As typical for the class this can be not bad centrally with Gianna’s looking almost crisp but the car and the cafe on the right are way soft. Escura Snaps 35 with XP 2023. Click on image for full size

Under the hood

Look read the review of Dubblefilm Show. In brief this is an all plastic affair with a simple one element fixed focus 31mm 1:9 lens and a fixed 1/120 shutter. The camera actually shoots with a narrower aperture ~f/11 unless you switch on the flash when a Waterhouse stop slides out of the way. The film plane has a curve.

Flash is powered by a single AAA. It’s what you’d expect for this class- not exactly powerful but enough for reasonably close shots (1-3 m range according to manual). In flash mode the camera shoots wider at f/9. You can exploit that by dropping the battery out giving you an extra shop sans flash. But the focus is much softer.

Flash Parking. Escura Snaps 35 with ColorPlus 200. 2023
Flash is what you’d expect but opens the lens up wider. Click on image for original scan

It is blurbed as having focus from 1m to infinity. Most DoF calculators would suggest nearer 1.5m to infinity for 31mm f/11 set up)

Pretty much the same as every other Dubblefilm clone then.

The Good Sister. Escura Snaps 35 + XP2. 2023
Escura Snaps 35 + XP2. Carlisle Oct 2023. Click for ordinal

Load up

Shoot these with 400 ISO unless very bright. Kodak ultramax 400 and Ilford XP2 are the 2 films I’d choose . Both are pretty tolerant (XP2 especially so).

I got lucky with a Bright weekend in Carlisle. The films were processed by AG Photolab (wee declaration I’m a AG shareholder)


Red Box II. Escura Snaps 35. 2023
All the pluses and Minuses in this shot. Centrally sharp but soften to the edges although the near cobles hold focus better and the roof of Carlisle’s old town hall is defo not that curved. Escura Snaps 35 + ColorPlus . Oct 2023

I’ll be brief as you could read my reviews of sister clones. Centrally looks quite good. Never Sharp but acceptable and with a nice lo-fi feel. But the lens drops off to the edges noticeably. Best from about 2-15m out. There is quite a bit of pincushion distortion and you get some fringing. There is a tendency to get internal reflection when shooting into the light.

Wheel Flare. Escura Snaps 35. 2023
This was the only light “leak” I got and I suspect more due to internal refection. Escura Snaps & ColorPlus 200. Carlisle 2023. Click on image for full size

As ever shooting a B&W film removes some of those issues

If you use the drop the battery out trick to use the flash aperture images are notably softer but can be quite pleasing from a lo-Fi perspective

Guild Hall Offices. Escura Snaps 35. 2023
Using the flash stop trick gives you softer images . Escura Snaps 35 + ColorPlus 200. Carlisle Oct 2023. Click on image for full size

This along with it’s siblings however are notably better than any reloadable disposable and most disposable. Only the Kodak Fun Saver stays close. It is of course beaten by the VUWS clones. And the is a fight on between it and Reto’s new hybrid lens Kodak H35N half frame which the latter wins just.

Papa to go. Escura Snaps 35 +XP2. 2023
Escura Snaps 35 + Xp2. Carlisle, Oct 2023. Click on image for full size

Cost & Other Clone

Dubblefilm Show
Dubblefilm Show not the cheapest but some like the Contax T2 look. COsts about the same but there are cheaper options

This is not the budget option in the class. Escura is the cheapest place to buy at the moment . The price starts out good at $30 USD but…With $15 shipping from HK to UK, the total starts to climb ~£37GBP at time of typing).

For comparison Analogue wonderland was doing a special on the Ilford Sprite 35 II for just less at £35 at the time of typing. Although that usually cost more . The Dubblefilm Show remains pricier at around £45. But…

Agfaphoto Analogue and Agfaphoto Half Frame
Agfaphoto Analogue (top) with it’s half frame sibling the Agfaphoto Half Frame

Agfaphoto analogue has hit below twenty quid with new examples turning up under £20 . That starts to hit the price tag of the single use Kodak funsaver. The Kodak M35 may not look like a Dubblefilm clone but it’s mechanics are. It is even cheaper at less than £15GBP. But it isn’t as attractive IMHO

Kodak M35
Kodak M35

Final Thoughts on the Escura Snaps 35

Back Lane. Escura Snaps 35  with XP2. Carlisle Oct 2023
A wide latitude B&W film works the best the Escura like XP2. Click on image for full size.

It looks gorgeous and arguably in the Hippy style is the best looking. But the Union Jack even in tatty retro styling may be an issue for you or in some environments. That said you can flip it out

You are paying twice the price to get the same camera as you can pick up in the UK. That’s unfair as Escure don’t seem to have sorted out UK distributors which is odd as this is a lovely camera. Little marketing is directed at Western markets. It may be that Escura has decided to avoid the increasing saturated clone market of a camera body that is rapidly becoming the 2020’s 35mm equivalent of the Lo-Fi legend that is the Diane. But I do think if it was more available for a mid range amount it would sell.

If that could happen and it came in at ~£30 then fight would be on.

New Non Clone Alternatives to the Escura Snaps 35

I’ve already mentioned the VUWS clones and the Kodak H35N which has a hybrid lens based of the VUWS.

Reto UWS
Reto UWS. The current favoured VUWS Clone

LensFayre Snap LF-35M is similar but not a clone if you want something a but different and it comes with ECO cred.

2 Versions of the Holga 135BC
2 Versions of the Holga 135BC

The Holga 135BC costs about the same as the average Dubblefilm but offers more features and has a nice Lo-Fi feel although build quality’s highly variable. Likewise the Lomography La Sardina and LomoApparat are worth a gander but cost more still.

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