Fuji's Wind-up Wonder

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Usually, I avoid half-frame cameras like the plague. However, this little camera caught my interest by dint of it's quality and ingenuity. It's the Fujica Drive.
  2. Being basically a medium-format user, 35mm half-frame format has always seemed to me to be just too small. The cameras are generally not all that smaller and lighter than their full-frame counterparts, and the only advantage they offered seemed to be an economy in the use of film, which I felt to be a high price to pay when weighed against the corresponding lessening in image quality. However, that's not to deny that some beautiful half-frame cameras were made, notably by Olympus and Canon, and the Drive represents Fuji's contribution to the genre, along with the slightly earlier Fujica Half. So far as I can determine, these two cameras were Fuji's only entries into the half-frame market. The Drive is basically a Half with the addition of a clockwork motor which gives about 20 frames of film advance and shutter cocking before a rewinding is required; like most clockwork drives the noise levels are far from unobtrusive, but it's quick and reliable and satisfyingly positive in operation. The Drive differs from the Half in having the film counter on the top rather than on the bottom, for obvious reasons. Focusing is by guesswork, though the usual three zones are marked on the focusing ring.
    "Drive" is a fine word; it seems to suggest progress and determination, with hints of travel to far-off destinations, Route 66, and all that stuff. Perhaps with such adventures in mind, the Drive is a very solid, well-constructed and sturdy camera, with a particularly handsome frontal appearance.
  3. Introduced in 1964 by the Fuji Photo Film Company of Japan, the Fujica Drive was one of the few cameras to feature both auto winding and auto exposure. In auto mode the selenium cell operates a programmed Sekiosha L shutter, which selects shutter/aperture combinations it considers appropriate for the light conditions, a nice touch being the display of the selected combination in the viewfinder.
  4. Manual exposure is possible with shutter speeds of 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, and 1/300, plus B, and a range of apertures from f/2.8 to f/22. The lens is a very fine 5-element Fujinon 28mm f/2.8, which provides spectacular depth of field at the smaller apertures. Film speeds are set on the dial on the rear of the camera, which also features a film type reminder insert. This can be seen in the pic below, together with the very tidy interior and the self-timer release button marked in green at the top left.
  5. The underside has the large winder knob and the tripod/wrist strap attachment. The camera packs away into a very nice soft-leather pouch with the wrist strap hanging free.
  6. The auto exposure system on this copy is working, but the readings seemed to me to be most inappropriate so I reverted to manual control and Sunny Sixteen. I used a home-loaded roll of Rollei RPX100, later developed in ID11, and I'm sure I would have had better results with a finer-grained film and a sharper developer, but overall I was impressed by the quality of the lens. The camera is very quick to use, and it's difficult to get things out of focus, given the enormous DOF. It's also quite easy to get a finger in front of the lens, especially when holding the camera vertically for the landscape format... Anyway, here are a few samples from the film, scanned on an Epson V700, somewhat unspectacular hometown images in our low winter light.
  7. Nice shots Rick! I had a "Half" during the 1970s when slide film was expensive. The camera was good for family pictures and similar occasions. As you mentioned the manufacturers seemed to think of the half frame as a watered down version. Very few seemed to have improved the half frame cameras, except Konica, Praktica and Exa, the last two only in their police mug-shot versions. They used the same [Exakta & M42] lenses and camera features as in the full frame, with additional changes in the film frame and the wind on mechanism. The Pentacon did not sell these cameras on the open market, though. Thanks for the pics. sp.
  8. Really 'cute' camera, and your usual excellent pictures, making the rest of us look banal and all, darn you to heck.
    Seriously, you have an eye, so the camera hardly seems to matter.
    Some of those "bridge cameras" I tried a while back were half frame.
    "Rollei RPX100, later developed in ID11" - interesting, I just stick with Kodak and D-76 for the little processing I do these days.
  9. Interesting. I'd never heard of this camera before. Nor have I ever owned a half-frame 35mm camera, though the Olympus Pen F series continues to tempt me. It would be interesting, and perhaps at first a little disorienting, to shoot a portrait-orientation camera that had to be turned on its side to shoot in landscape mode.
    Your product photography continues to be impressive. The colorful film canisters contrast very nicely with the substantially monochromatic remainder of the image.
  10. Rick,
    Wonderful work with these small framed cameras. I had two Olympus Pen FT's back around 1971-72. They were finely built but just too small for my hands.
    In 1966 Fujica came out with their Fujica Mini half frame camera. I will try to find a picture to post.
  11. Nice shots, Rick. I have the manual wind version of this camera and need to give it some exercise. I used to have a Bell & Howell Dial 35 (had a spring motor), but sold it. I also have (out of CMC category) a Yashica Samuria. I think if I could pick up an orginal Konica Auto Reflex (shoots both full and half frame on same roll) and an Ansco Memo II I'd be happy with my half-frame collection. Back in the 70's I shot slide film in the Dial 35 and had it returned uncut. This made a filmstrip that could be shown in the filmstrip projectors so many schools used to have. I even shot a roll of High Speed Ektachrome (the old E4 version) and processed it myself in my dad's darkroom (also in the 70's). I also shot lots of photos on campus when I was in college. Thanks for posting and jogging some memories.
  12. How many frames can you shoot on one winding? I can get off 7 or 8 on mine.
    Mine was over-wound when I got it, so I had to dismantle the steel spring coil.
    Tip-- wear googles and gloves if you ever try to open this type of clock spring. There can be a LOT more power stored up in there than you think!
  13. Rick,
    Here is a page from the 1966 Pop Photo Photography Directory & Buying Guide.
    It shows the 4 Half-frame models Fujica was importing to the USA. It also has a small ad for the Drive.
    Most of the Fujica ads I have seen from this time period were for the Fujica Compact 35, the Fujica V2, or the Fujica 8mm movie camera.
  14. Well after I made my last post I got to thinking that I had actually seen a Fujica Half frame camera ad. But where? I had already look at 1965-67 magazines. So I went back to 1964.
    I found a 2 page ad in the Aug 1964 issue of Pop Photography. It is of the Fujica Half but I thought it had plenty of good information.
  15. Here is the second page of the ad. As far as I know this ad was never repeated.
  16. The Fujica Half is the model I have. The woman in the VF image appears to be the same woman in an earlier Fujica full
    frame RF. It may be the same image cropped to simulate half frame.
  17. Rick, another great post as usual. And this time of such an interesting camera. Its somewhat of a coincidence but just today on craigslist I came across a Minolta Autopak 800 that had a wind up mechanism for advancing the film. How completely odd.
    I rather like Phoenix Palms. Something very timeless about it.
  18. Thanks for the responses and information, Marc; we'll have to appoint you the official archivist. The old ads are fascinating and I'll have to admit that I'd completely overlooked the Fujica Mini, though I'd read about the camera. John, thanks for the warning about the clockwork; I've read similiar warnings for other spring-powered cameras. Apparently the power in a fully-wound spring is quite frightening. As I was a little worried about the age of the mechanism I never wound it fully, but gave it a tweak-up every now and then. Eighteen to twenty shots seems to be the usual expectation, fully wound. Interesting about the "woman in the viewfinder", Mike. She's certainly not the usual little Japanese babe. I'd love to do a series on illustrations from the instruction manuals of CMC's. I'm always impressed by your huge knowledge of, and experience with, the older cameras.
    Thanks, JDM; it's sometimes a struggle to produce something postable but it's great to know one's efforts are appreciated. Incidentally, ID-11 is pretty much Ilford's equivalent of D-76; the formulae are almost identical. Thanks, Craig, it's nice when I realise someone is insightful enough to discern how these "product" pics come about, a little trivial though they be. The Phoenix palms are quite a feature of our suburban gardens, David, usually far too large by now for their surroundings. They do impart a sort of 1950's look. And thanks, SP, for your usual valued input.
  19. nice write-up, rick. i have one of these marvels and can attest that it is a well built and hefty little camera. it's quality is on par with the canon demi series and far better than ansco memo.
  20. Thanks, Capital, I recall your fine work with the half-frame format!
  21. For just those reasons you mentioned, I have never been interested in half-fryme 35mm. A few years bak a colleague bought a LOMO half frame ... she was so excited to show me... I was less so but bit my lip! You have of course done an amazing shoot and the depth is phenomenal! You mentioned a better film.. 100 should be right , Did you mean something like Tech-Pan? I do like mechanical stuff so this spring might of been to hard to resist! That sidewalk apex could be here in West Germany same masonry!
  22. Being a bit of a sucker for gadgetry myself, I think you'd enjoy the Drive, Chuck. The Rollei RPX 100 does have quite a fine grain, but it's very much the "traditional" grain, sharp and gritty when compared to some of the newer emulsions, such as Ilford Delta 100. I like both, but for the small half-frame format the smoother emulsion might have been better.

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