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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
Cost & Other Clone
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 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
Final Thoughts on the Escura Snaps 35
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
LensFayre Snap LF-35M is similar but not a clone if you want something a but different and it comes with ECO cred.
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.