I learned about the Fujica Half while researching sub-miniature and half-frame cameras online. I don’t recall exactly where I learned about this camera, but I decided I had to have one. After watching eBay for a while, I got one for $46.75 shipped this past January.
It arrived in the mail on a Saturday afternoon. I opened the package like it was Christmastime (except more carefully), and was immediately pleased with the size and heft of the camera. It didn’t look like the built-in selenium light meter was responsive, though, which was a bummer. No worries — I’d just forked over some money-well-spent for a battery adapter for cameras and accessories that were build to use mercury batteries, so my Kalimar accessory shoe light meter would serve me well. I was so excited, I loaded up the camera and took it to dinner to try it out.
In the car en route to our favorite Vietnamese joint, I realized that the needle in the viewfinder was moving, and the on-board meter was functional. I compared the readings between all three meters — the Light Meter app on my iPhone, the Kalimar, and the selenium cell meter — and they all read 1/30 sec at f/2.8 indoors. (Which is admittedly on the low end of not needing a tripod, but I was anxious to start shooting with this little camera, so I took a chance.)
[Taken 21 January 2017]
I continued the trend by taking the Fujica Half to lunch at our favorite dim sum joint the next day. I decided to keep the camera on automatic, despite the fact that its exposure algorithm doesn’t really jive with my M.O. of shooting wide open indoors to gain the fastest shutter speed.
I tucked the Fujica in my purse for the rest of the week, with the intention of squeezing off a few exposures here and there — there’s some 50 exposures to be had on a standard 24-exposure roll, after all — and then going on a photo walk to the downtown library that Thursday.
Alas, the day I took my photo walk was a brightly overcast winter day, which might have been great for portraits, but not so much for architectural photography, when I found myself wishing for beautiful fluffy clouds and blue skies. All the best photos from the test roll are posted on Flickr, but here are a few examples to show sharpness and exposure.
Things I learned about using this camera:
The default orientation is portrait, since it’s a half-frame camera. The viewfinder is rectangular, though, so there’s no forgetting how to compose in the moment (unlike a medium format camera with a rectangular mask insert — I’m looking at you, Holga).
Note that the meter goes up through matched pairs of aperture and shutter speed: 1/30 sec at f/2.8, 1/60 at f/5.6, etc. The photographer is free to use the meter info and adjust the exposure manually from there; however, the meter is only active when the camera is in auto mode.
The focus — zone focus, starting at 2ft — is close enough for handheld self-portraiture (all right, “selfies”).
The viewfinder markings are pretty close, if not exact — perhaps I’ll learn how to precisely center with practice.
My overall impression of this camera? Love it. I’ve already put another roll through it (expired film, pushed one stop in developing, which I’ve never tried before) and am impatiently waiting to see how those turn out.
This little half-frame camera turns out sharper pictures than some of my “toy” cameras (again with the Holga), and I’m more than willing to take it out with me for snapshots and street photography.