I picked up this late ’80s – early ‘90s fixed focus point-and-shoot at Goodwill for a few bucks late last summer. Since discovering that my son’s generic blue 35mm camera actually takes pretty cool and hipstery pictures, I decided to take a chance on romance and start picking up some more point-and-shoot and “trashcam” models.
TL;DR: This point-and-shoot takes pretty decent photos overall. Pretty sharp focus at midrange, some vignetting in certain situations. Feels comfortable to use. I kinda like it. I might experiment with the apertures a bit in the future.
The longer, more detailed version:
Expecting a clear, sunny day, I pulled my last roll of ISO 200 out of the freezer. (I was out of 100 speed.) The S100 EF has a film speed setting (100/200 and 400) and a flash on/off switch, both of which control the aperture. According to Camerapedia:
The smallest aperture was used with the film speed switch set to “400” and the middle aperture setting was used when the switch was set to “100/200.” The aperture was the most open (f/4.5) only when the flash switch was enabled. However, if the photographer removed the batteries, the camera could still be used with the flash switch enabled, thus giving 3 different aperture levels.
According to Sylvan Halgand, the shutter speed of the S100 EF is 1/100.
I decided to go with the middle aperture, and not mess around with the settings on this first run. ISO 100/200, no flash — although I did leave the batteries in, just in case I decided to try some fill flash outside (which I forgot to try in the end, but should have). Loading the camera was interesting — the take-up reel has no slot, so the user is expected to just keep the film flush against the spool until it gets pulled all the way around and loops under a metal clip. As extra-simple as that was obviously supposed to be, it actually took me a couple tries to get the tension just right.
I couldn’t find any documentation about how close the fixed focus was, but I saw from some people’s Lomography pages that arm’s length (aka selfie distance) is not far enough. So, I guessed five feet, and decided to take some perspective shots to test that theory. The closest I put any subjects was about four feet, and I did take at least one where the subject (a park bench) was mostly out of focus on purpose, to give a good guesstimate of the focus (about five feet).
The focus seems to be pretty sharp from five feet to… well, it’s hard for me to tell. The tops of 10-story buildings still look pretty good, but the view across an intersection is a little fuzzy. It may depend on the lighting conditions.
Back in the era when this camera was manufactured, my own camera of choice (i.e. the one they were selling in the blister pack at the drug store) was a Kodak Star 35 EF — a focus-free number that was a bit swoopier in design than the S100 EF, with no film speed setting, but with a built-in flash. The S100 EF is chunkier, but I think I still might have preferred to have it on hand back in the day instead of my Star 35.
Nowadays, though, I’m not sure about its future in my collection. We’ll see.