Friday, 23 March 2012

Fujica Drive Half-Frame Camera

I must admit I didn't really care much about half-frames cameras before. Theoretically, they're meant to deliver low quality pictures due to the fact that you're exposing half of the size of a 35mm film frame. On the plus side though, this means that a 36 exposure film will give you 72 frames, something that puzzled me when I was a child... I remember my uncle saying that this camera would “transform” the film from 36 to 72 exposures...

The Fujica Drive was manufactured in the mid 60's by the Japanese company Fuji, it has auto mode which works with a sellenium meter and fully manual control with speeds of 1/30 – 1/60 – 1/125 -1/300 and B.  The focus is achieved by rotating the front lens and is marked in feet, it also have marked in red “P” for portraits, “G” for groups and the infinity symbol for a quicker reference. 

A tripod mount and cable release socket is available as well the cold-shoe for dedicated flash and self-timer... quite a lot features I have to say for a camera that would supposedly deliver low quality pictures. 

But what's really cool about this camera is the battery less clockwork motor-drive feature, just turn the big dial under the body until it locks and you'll have 18 frames  ready to be exposed without having to wind the camera, a very useful feature even nowadays for shooting subjects in action.  

Before actually holding one in my hands I had low expectations about the camera, instead I was quite surprised how solid and well made they're built.

My experience when using the camera changed my opinion completely about the half-frame format and depending on the results you are after, some cameras can definitely deliver good quality results. The images below were taken with the manual setting, the sellenium meter is not working as it's already expected for such an old camera.

The film is the Agfa APX 100 processed on Rodinal 1+50 solution/13 minutes developing time.

First thing I noticed while using the camera is that it changed the way I normally compose my pictures. Because the viewfinder is in the vertical position I had almost all of my pictures taken on this format, something that I hardly ever do with other cameras.

I also have to increase the scanner's DPI setting considerably if I want a  larger and noiseless result on my computer screen.

Some people find annoying the fact that a 36 exposures film seems to last forever in the camera and for that reason they recommend using a 12 or 24 exposures. I personally think that a 36 film roll gives me the opportunity to bracket a bit more without feeling guilty of wasting too much film.



John Margetts said...

The pictures are quite impressive for a half-frame camera. I might have to keep an eye out for one of these.

Mauricio Sapata said...

It's a nice camera.. really worth having!

Anonymous said...

I just picked up one of these from a charity shop in Oxfordshire.

It's mint, in the almost unmarked original faded box, with the original instruction booklet that is in such good condition that it would appear that it's hardly ever been handed,

The inside of the camera is pristine, apart from a little expected degradation on the light seals ..... and the lens has a 22.5mm Olympus skylight 1A filter, which itself is not at all marked or scratched .... which will give you an idea of how clean the actual lens is.

It's a very solid feeling little camera .... I'm a tad pleased with it.

Mauricio Sapata said...

You're lucky... they don't come very oftem!