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Copyright 2015


Background


If you've been bitten with the "cheap ultra-wide lens" bug, you'll know there aren't many "cheap and good" ultra-wide lenses.  There are only relatively inexpensive ones that still aren't that good. 

So eventually, you say "Hey, know what?  Some of these toy film cameras have really wide lenses".  And you'd be right.

Sooner or later, it comes down to a choice between La Sardina and the Ultra Wide Slim.  Vivitar no longer makes the "real" UWS, but Superheadz / Powershovel makes a clone of this great camera.

And that's what I'm going to review today.


A Quick Note


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In This Article


Meet The Usagi

Usagi and the Vivitar

Build Quality & Light Leaks

Shutter Speeds

Lens

Focusing

Similar Cameras

Recommended Film Speeds

Conclusion







Meet The Usagi


This is a toy camera.  In the early Twenty-First Century, there are two distinct demographics who use toy cameras. 

One, the people who actually use toys because they are toys. 

Two, the people who don't care that they are toys, but who instead want a particular creative effect.  That would be most readers who are camera-shopping.

So okay, the Usagi has little pink bunnies on it.

This prompts my wife to mention Ralphie from A Christmas Story.  You know, when he got that bunny suit for Christmas when in fact he wanted a Red Ryder BB gun.  But the thing is, I can just put a piece of gaffer's tape over the pink bunny, and then I guess it's no big deal.  

And besides, I would have been happy to get a camera like this for Christmas, back when I was just learning how to use a camera. 

Or, now. 

By the way, "usagi" is supposed to mean "rabbit" in Japanese, according to the Internet.  (I haven't asked any readers from Japan yet, though.)




Usagi and the Vivitar

The Superheadz / Powershovel "Ultra Wide Slim" cameras are re-makes of the Vivitar Ultra-Wide Slim.  No, I haven't compared them part-for-part, but functionally they're identical.  If you photographed the same thing with both cameras, you probably couldn't distinguish.

The Vivitar Ultra-Wide Slim has attained cult status.  This was a bit of a surprise for a camera that seems to have been intended as a giveaway premium.  I guess it's sort of like the "Shells and Cheese" camera, although that camera shoots 110 film.

I'm going to prefer the Superheadz camera to the Vivitar from the start, because the sale of newly-manufactured film cameras is something that helps tell the industry, "Hey, we still want these."  Even if some of these happen to be toy cameras.  



Usagi




Build Quality & Light Leaks

Thus far I have not seen any light leaks from this camera.

Build quality is rather typical for a toy camera.  It doesn't feel as fragile as something like a Diana Mini, but I wouldn't roughhouse with it.  The film-rewind crank seems a bit weak, and too short to have that much leverage.  Care is advised.



Shutter Speeds

The Usagi has one shutter speed.   It's said to be 1/125th, but I reckon it's probably more like 1/90th or 1/100th.   There is also the distinct possibility that they're not all the same shutter speed, because this is a toy camera we're talking about here.




Lens

This camera has a 22 millimeter, single-element lens (hence the "ultra-wide).  There is corner darkening (light falloff), which is to be expected for this kind of lens. 




Tall Trees

2015
Superheadz Usagi Camel
Fuji Superia 400 film


The Superheadz UWS clones give sharper photos than La Sardina.  I don't think this has to do with lens sharpness, so much as it has to do with where they set the focus on La Sardina (which is f/8 instead of f/11).  If you are photographing close-up stuff on La Sardina, the pictures are fairly sharp;  but everything is sharp on the UWS.



Focusing

At f/11, everything from a couple of feet to infinity will be in focus.   This is a fixed-focus camera;  there's no adjustment.

As you can see here, it's possible to take in-focus pictures from a very close distance.  The pizza looks weirdly distant, but only because this is an ultra-wide lens:


Pepperoni Pizza

2015
Superheadz Usagi Camel
Fuji Superia 400 film


Recommended Film Speeds


For bright-sunny days, use 100 film.   That means you can shoot Provia, Ektar, or Velvia 100.   No light meter?  No problem;  slide film works very well in toy f/11 @ 1/100th (or so) cameras.

For sunny-day use, Portra 160 would also be great. 

On a sunny, cloudless day, use Velvia 50 for maximum saturation.

For "magic hour" shots, though, try 200 or 400 film.   You can use 200 or 400 for bright-daylight, too;  expect some bright-highlight wash-out with 400 film.  (But at least it won't look nasty like digital.)

400 film would work for overcast days, but probably not heavy-overcast.  Try 800 for that.  Or, if you like black & white photography, you could always push Tri-X or HP5 Plus to a higher speed.

Indoors in your typical well-lit store, you might even get usable shots at EI 6400.  Normally you'd want f/8 @ 1/60th;  the loss of one stop would give grainier photos.   I haven't tried this yet with the UWS-type cameras.





 

Similar Cameras & Variants

Previously I've talked about La Sardina, which also has an ultra-wide lens.  If you want more features and flexibility, get La Sardina (get one with the flash;  you will use flash a lot on this camera).  The Superheadz will yield sharper pictures, though.  (More comparison in the La Sardina review.)

The Powershovel / Superheadz UWS clone is marketed with a number of different model names (White Slim Angel, Usagi, Tomodachi, etc.).

If you don't mind being seen with a neon-pink camera, you can sometimes get this variety at a much lower price than the others.  






Conclusion

The Superheadz Ultra-Wide Slim cameras are worthy successors to the original Vivitar UWS.  They are daylight cameras, ideal for those beautifully bright sunny days when you probably most want to take pictures anyway. 

You can use faster films to extend the usefulness.  

This camera is so light, compact, and fun... take one along on your next vacation.  Get one now, or maybe one of the other colors, and toss it in your carry-on bag.   Bring some film, of course.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  Please help me keep this website on-line by purchasing any of your stuff (including this camera or film) through the links on here.


              

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