Ok, first a little disclaimer. I started out big into medium format and got into 4×5. Now that I’ve gotten a few years under my belt, the ease and portability of 35mm has become more appealing than it initially was. I’m definitely not giving up my larger stable, but more often I’m reaching for something a little easier. I still have an sweet spot for the big guns.
Then this odd little camera came along. I read about it somewhere and thought I’d try it. I’ve used oddball point and shoots before like the Canon EPOCA but this camera is different in a couple big ways. I was able to grab this specimen super cheap as the handle was broken and the door doesn’t latch. Nothing a little JB Weld and gaffer’s tape can’t fix!
The first big difference from your run-of-the-mill poit and shoot is that this is a half frame camera. My smallest format ever if you don’t include the 110 camera I had as a child. This camera shoots a 17x24mm negative. I know some guys who are into small formats like half frame, and minox, there’s even an effort to make kodak disc film again.
The FPP store handrolls their films into rolls of 24 25mm frames which is a good thing. On this camera that’s 48 shot which starts to feel like a lot! Imagine 72 shots with a 36 exposure roll!
The second big difference from your typical point and shoot is that this Samurai X3.0 is a SLR! Whoah wasn’t expecting that. This relatively compact camera has pentaprism and a mirror that flips up when taking the picture allowing you to compose through the taking lens. I suppose that part of the half frame advantage. That because the format is smaller the components for an advanced feature like this also fit in a small space. So worry not, you won’t accidentally leave a 3 stop red filter on for the whole roll!
Other things of note include the 49mm filter thread for which there are tons of filters as it’s been a standard size for ages. It also sports a 3x 25-75mm zoom lens, built in flash, shutter speeds from 2 to 1/500 sec., the AF activates when the shutter button is half pressed (which allows for focus and recompose), and DX coding from ISO 50–3200.
One little nit to pick is that it uses the not too cheap 2CR5 battery and I didn’t find an off switch on it. Basically if you finish a roll it’d make sense to pull the battery.