Camera Review – Action Sampler

Some cameras are just garbage

I dug this gem of a camera out of my shelves to put a roll of film through it as I wanted to try something different. Well, there is this old saying that I just came up with and it is “Some cameras really are shit” This camera is the king of the pile. It’s small, thumb-shredding, plastic, and just too niche for any normal photography. Let’s take a look.

I think I picked this thing up on eBay for about ten bucks and that was about 9.50US too much. It’s similar in build quality to a drug store disposable camera except this one doesn’t even take pictures that good. The way it works is it has a simple timed shutter that controls four individual lenses. It takes 4 simultaneous images over 1 second. If the subject is moving you’d think it would be really neat seeing that motion split into 4 squares in a single frame. You’d be wrong.

A couple problems here. First, the frame is crooked on the camera. So the four individual frames aren’t exactly level. It takes soft images, and that’s to be expected from a meniscus lens, but this thing has 4 horrible lenses and splits an already tiny format (24mm x 36mm) into 4 12 x 18 images. Since the smallest a film photograph can be and still have decent resolution is 24×36, these images … suck. Also, the movement has to be fast enough to register differently on each frame.

If you can get around the pincushion, the soft focus, the flatness of the colors and lack of contrast, then I’m sure that creative images can be made, but then one has to ask, “just because you can, do you really think you should?”

I did try to drive around taking photos with the camera while moving, but I pretty much stacked the deck against myself when I loaded this plastic unFantastic camera with film. It doesn’t necessarily like bulk-rolled film. It tended to eat the film in the camera and getting it onto the developer spool was a nightmare due to the pre-chewed film edges.

Judging from the photo above, it’s clear this camera might make interesting images at something like a sports event or motor racing, something where the changes from the subject in the one second of shutter activation might be interesting. However, this means deliberately putting film in this camera to go make photos at an event. That’s a bit of a stretch for me.

I couldn’t even tell you the specs, but judging from the shot above (inside, dark) it is a 1/80s f/9 or f/10. It’s just a guess but it’s pretty standard for these cameras to shoot around 1/80-1/125s and f/8 – f/11. Judging from the blurriness, I’m guessing anything from 10ft to infinity is in focus. This was about 4-6 feet so it’s a tad soft.

Maybe it’s just me. I’ve never shied away from challenging cameras or kitschy lo-fi junk. I live, breath, eat, and sleep Holga, so this shouldn’t surprise me. While this camera is a dyed in the wool gimmick, it’s still something that could possibly be good for something Warhol-like, but the subjects need to be planned. This camera is so basic, everything needed to get a good shot is in the brains behind the camera. This injection-molded, way-overpriced disappointment is unforgiving. If you intend on getting good photos from it you will need to be very deliberate.

This might be the first camera I’ve ever used where keeping a Field Notes book and pencil with me is a requirement.

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