The Fujica 35 Automagic Review : Futuristic 50’s Automagic

Fujica 35 Automagic
Fujica 35 Automagic 50’s 35mm P&S camera

This 50’s rarity is arguable one of the first metered 35mm point and shooters (P&S)  on the market and whilst basic and bulky had much in the ways of the compact P&S like the Olympus Trip 35 that followed it a decade plus later. And you know something, it still works and takes pretty good shots.

Vintage Biscuit I
Fujica 35 Automagic with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200, Dumfries 2014

Stylistically this camera is much more like a late 60’s or early 70’s camera abet on a bigger scale and for it’s day would have been quite striking and certainly appear to be a prototype for what followed in the late 60’s.

Fujica 35 Automagic Specs

  • Lens:  38mm 1:3.4
  • Focus: Scale Focus
  • Metering: Automatic,
  • Shutter: fixed speed
  • ASA:  10-200ASA
  • Filter-Thread: None
A mother's love
Fujica 35 Automagic with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200, Dumfries 2014

You have a large lens barrel with a battery free half moon of selenium metering that sits beneath the actual lens. Like later P&S there is a ring to switch from (A) automatic to the various flash settings (4 settings determined by a chart on the rear). Focus oddly isn’t on the lens barrel but by a small ring with a lever just around the lens. You’ll need to be happy with using or converting from imperial measures (hint 3ft is just under a meter) as it’s scale focus in feet.

Analogue take on a digital shot
Fujica 35 Automagic with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200, Carlisle Castle 2014

The viewfinder has a swinging needle on a colour scale for exposure. If the exposure is okay the needle will swing into green, if not it stays in the red. There is no exposure lock however and the display needle in mines sometimes sticks but a gentle tap frees. The viewfinder is otherwise pretty minimal and you can’t see any focusing info from it.

Window view
Fujica 35 Automagic with Expired Truprint FG+ 200 2014

The metering controls a swing set of aperture blades which seem to be in constant movement. The shutter speed is fixed and the ASA settings  works by partially blank off the selenium array to adjust exposure. The camera is threaded for cable release and as was common at the time  PC sync only for flash (if you have a hotshoe only flash you can buy a cheap converter cable to use it with PC sync). You’ll also need to manually reset the film counter.

Vintage late light
Fujica 35 Automagic with Expired Jessops Diamond Everyday 200 shot at 160asa, 2014

The camera is pretty good for something over half a century old. The lens gives a nice vintage tone and the exposure still works. There is a bit of vignetting evident as you can see. The camera is limited to 200asa and therefore  is no route in to C41 B&W films unless you are willing to overexpose by 1 stop. Adding a filter isn’t a easy option as there is no thread to screw it into on the lens focus ring itself. You couldn’t really use a slip on filter over the lens barrel as there is no way of focusing if you do. It is a bit bulky and film speed limits it to being used in goodish weather

Mines is a bit of a beast to open (gentle pressure on backdoor required) and when first got rewinding was difficult probably as hadn’t been used for sometime but has loosened (if happens to you you’ll find starts to go serious tight- just reverse winding a wee bit then try re-winding again, you’ll need to repeat several times) .

Chained to terrace
Fujica 35 Automagic with Expired Jessops Diamond 200 shot at 160asa, Dumfries 2014

Dead or sticky metering metering may be the biggest issues here when buying although the latter probably just needs a wee tweak. Not that common on ebay but recent examples have sold for under a tenner (£10 GBP) at the time of writing. The professional sellers however seem to be looking for £40+  indicating the scarcity. A case is good as you’ll know the selenium meter has been covered when not in use although I use a 60mm lens cap (very snug you may wish slightly bigger)

Alternatives

  • Olympus Trip 35 –  The Classic P&S camera form the late 60’s
  • Fujica 35 Auto-M – More able Rangefinder big brother
  • Halina 6-4 – 120 film P&S that’s also ahead of its time stylistically

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