Somewhere out there is the perfect compact film camera. Pocketable; solid; a beautiful wide lens; the features you need to hand, the ones you don’t not getting in the way.
Or perhaps it isn’t out there. I’ve tried plenty and haven’t found it yet.
(That said, I’ve got a soft spot for all compact film cameras… perhaps this comes out in the scoring.)
Here’s how some of the ones I have tried stack up. (Have a look towards the bottom of this page to see how the categories work.)
|Konica Big Mini||10||2||3||2||4||17||38|
|Ricoh Shotmaster Tru-Zoom Date||4||3||3||3||7||12||32|
|Canon SureShot Zoom XL||3||4||4||4||8||16||39|
|Olympus Mju II||10||2||3||3||7||17||42|
|Olympus AF-10 Super||7||3||3||3||7||16||39|
|FujiFilm Klasse W||7||5||3||4||8||14||41|
|Leica Mini Zoom||5||2||2||3||6||11||29|
Size/weight: These are compact cameras; pocketability counts. Max 10 points.
Camera features: Infinity lock, flash control, changeable defaults, exposure compensation; all get points. That said, these are point and shoots so I’m not too worried about bells and whistles. 5 points tops.
Lens: Speed, focus distance. The most important aspects of the lens come out in picture quality, so we’ll give these other features 5 points to play with.
Ergonomics: Points for the buttons being in the right places and working as you’d expect. What I care most about is whether the shutter button works (by no means a given – see the Big Mini). 5 points tops.
Build/reliability: Does it keep working? Does it feel like it will keep working? Can I use it as a hammer? 10 points max.
Picture quality: It’s not all about resolution; it’s about feel. And a bit about reliable exposure and focus. The quality of the end result is what really matters, so 20 points to play for.
I seem to have missed out value for money… I think I’ll leave it that way; why sully ourselves with vulgar talk of money. (The Mju II would win… £2.50. Or perhaps the R10 – another astounding bargain at £10.)
Funny how with differing strengths and weaknesses most come out with roughly the same late 30s early 40s score.
Or perhaps not that remarkable. In digital digital camera terms, these all have the same sensor (35mm film) and image processing engines (Max Spielmann). So we are comparing lenses, exposure and focus. And the camera’s ability to be ready at the right moment.
Anyway, the current winner is… the GR1; though that’s for the one I own. If I was scoring others I’ve seen, it would score a lot less on build/reliability.