The Point & Shoot To Rule Them All

Racquet Film are going to start posting a lot more on the blog section of our website. Why? Because film photography is thriving; that’s exactly why we’re writing a book on it. Expect this blog to deliver news, reviews and updates, all in the opinionated nature that’s so ingrained in analogue culture. Keep an eye on our social media (@racquetstudio) for updates on new posts and updates! Most importantly, however, remember that this is all simply the author’s opinion.

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All photos by Jeremy Morse (Klasse W): @esromphoto

We get asked a lot about point and shoot cameras. They’re a great way to get started in film, so we figured we’d give our thoughts and experiences using a wide variety of these little gems over the past five odd years. I’ve shot roughly 70 point and shoot cameras in the past two years, which is a fair whack. In honesty however, most of this was testing. Each camera’s lifespan usually lasted two or three rolls in a variety of settings with a variance or two in film. From $10 plastic fantastics and cameras I couldn’t fully understand, to premium compacts like the T2 (and T3), Nikon 35TI, Fuji Klasse W, MJU II and Yashica T4. I’ve run it dry as far as pointing and shooting goes, and while I’d never pick a P&S’ ease of use over a well equipped SLR, I’ve learned a lot about just how capable (and incapable) these cameras are. The first thing I learned was categories. In the compact 35mm realm, I found three distinct groups:

  • First you have the bargain bin cameras. They’re worth very little and often perform poorly. If they don’t perform poorly, their cheap price is generally attributed to their lack of functionality. Either way, you get what you pay for and that’s certainly most obvious in the P&S realm.
  • You then have the ‘cult’ cameras. They weren’t made with the intention of being rather expensive, but they perform great and have developed a cult following because of this reputation (the Olympus MJU II is a prime example of this). Their prices are often touted as ridiculous, but such statements are usually made from a comparative standpoint.
  • The final category you have in the P&S realm are the premium cameras: the Contax T2, the Minolta TC-1, the Nikon 35TI/28TI and the other cameras you pay top dollar for thanks to a flurry of features and a whole lot of shiny bragging rights.

The second thing I learned about point and shoot cameras is that two particular parameters set various models apart: the quality of the camera’s lens, and the functionality the camera has. The very best cameras have amazing lenses with a wide array of functionality, while the less appealing cameras lack both lens quality and functionality. And around here it gets interesting: I’ve found that above a certain price bracket (around $250) the law of diminishing returns kicks in with respect to the quality of lens mounted on the camera. With that said, it could be argued that the functionality of a camera (along with attributes like ergonomics and durability) are of more importance once you’re starting to spend a reasonable amount of money on a point and shoot. For example, when comparing the Nikon L35AF (around $150 AUD) with the Yashica T4, Tina Kino (via Japan Camera Hunter) wrote, “It’s hard to explain, but I just liked the images from the Nikon better after comparing a few rolls.”

Which leads me to a stepped look at the point and shoots I’ve had the privilege of shooting over the years. For under the $200 mark, the Fuji Tiara Zoom really surprised me in terms of quality and functionality. Once you get around the $200 price point, the Nikon L35AF and MJU I (not II) are the best two cameras I’ve owned. At around the $400 mark, the MJU II and the Yashica T4 are my pick, though I would argue they are not worth the extra $200 especially given the fact they don’t add much functionality to the cheaper models. But what about the best of the best?

I say with certainty, the Fujifilm Klasse W is the best 35mm point and shoot camera I have ever shot. It has the best functionality, it is durable, it has an outstanding lens and it is – quite simply – as good a point and shoot as it gets. Of course the Natura f1.9 (great lens) and the Ricoh GR21 (widest point and shoot around) have merits, they lose points in various categories (functionality and durability respectively). The Klasse W has no downfalls however, and while it does command a price tag of around $1000-$1500 these days, if you’ve got the money to spend on a compact it will leave the other high end gems in the dust.

Of course, this is just my opinion, but having shot roughly 70 of these little weapons, I’ve got a fair idea. All the photos in this post were shot by Jeremy Morse on a Fuji Klasse W and are a testament to its quality. If you wanted to know a little more about the Klasse W, here’s a few specs:

– Film format: 135 35mm
– Frame size: 24mm × 36mm
– Lens: 28mm f2.8 Super EBC Fujinon lens
– Focus: AF: 0.3m ~ inf., MF mode
– Finder: field of view: 85%
– Aperture: dial with Program, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.
– Shooting Mode: Program AE, AE Aperture Priority
– Shutter: Electronic shutter Program (Program AE, AE aperture priority)
– Shutter speed: B, 1/2s to 1/500s (at F2.8) to 1/1000s (for F16)
– Exposure comp: with front dial ±2.0EV in 0.5EV step increments
– Film speed: Auto DX, ISO25 ~ 3200 (in 1/3 steps) Manual Set
– Self-timer
– LCD: with backlight
– Power: 1x 3v lithium CR2
– Size: 123 × 63.5 × 38.5mm
– Weight 270g (excluding battery)

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