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THE SILVER BULLET OF TRUTH (the canon demi 1/2 frame).

Half frame cameras or a point and shoot are my favorite options to bring alongside my favorite medium format camera for traveling. Small and practical and very capable, even some of the least talked about Half frame cameras are up there on my list of greats. The Mercury II is a very nice one, with a rotary shutter, that seems like it truly hasn’t slowed much in all the years its probably been out of use. This camera has a fastest shutter speed of 1/1000th and interchangeable lens capabilities, which is really nice, two lenses fulfill this possibility. A 35mm f2.7, and a 35mm f3.5 are the two options for this camera. They deliver great results, it’s just a task trying to find a lens in good condition. The Pen F also has this capability. Another very nice half frame system, with bigger, higher quality lenses and a sleek finish, but let’s not get too far off the mark here.

The Canon Demi or if you have the model I currently own, The Bell and Howell/Canon Demi Half frame camera is incredible! Well built, light weight and yet a solid camera with a very smooth film advance. Rounded edges all around the body, make for a nice hold. The light seals take up a lot of the back doors interior, and you want to make sure those are in good shape before using, unless you don’t even give a darn. It has a sharp 28mm f2.8 lens fixed, coated Canon Lens. It’s susceptible to flare, but it adds a nice little soft kiss to the frame every now and again. This camera has a zone focusing system, and on the back of my camera, there is a nice descriptive list for the user to get used to and hopefully focus quickly. The shutter speed dial and aperture settings are locked together in a dance of death, so be aware that whatever and whenever you are choosing one or the other, the other one is set to shift to a designated setting as well. It works out surprisingly well though. I have shot indoors and outdoors, in a moving vehicle and standing still and never really had any issues with this. Another great upside to this specific model is the Selenium cell light meter is great if it works, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine too, because it’s unpaired! So what you set the lens too is by benefit or by fault your own decision and even if the meter says something, or nothing at all, you can feel free to do whatever the hell you want. Talk about free will! And as they say, “What will be, Will Smith.” So be prepared for whatever lane you choose to go down.

Canon Demi, Kodak Ultramax 400, Green Bluff, wa. 2019

Truly this camera is little, not as little as a Rollei 35 or a Bolsey B2 or especially a MIKROMA camera, none of which are ½ framers, but it is a baby. The design makes me feel like it’s trying to remind me every time I use it that it is in fact a half frame camera. It works. It has a leaf shutter, so when using the PC sync port for flash, you can happily fire away at all speeds, which is a huge upside. Makes me think of the Olympus 35RC yet again, in that that’s another camera I love to use Flash with due to it syncing at all speeds, but sadly my PC port has an issue so it doesn’t work on my Oly. The Selenium cell meter being part of this puppy is nice if it works and you want to use it, in that it doesn’t need a battery. There is a nice slide tab for opening and closing the film door, and the view finder is bright and dead center, so when framing, that has proven to be helpful knowing you are right above your image. There is also a shutter cable release in the shutter button for those of us that like to do that sort of thing, and I know you’re out there.

Canon Demi, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. 2022

Canon Demi, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. 2022

I recently took this little dood to my Partners, sisters wedding and took some photos and although grainy, I think they turned out nicely. It was a very bright day, and this was the first time I used this camera for an event where subjects were moving and getting the bride and groom in focus added a little more pressure, haha. This was a relaxed and fun day though and these images were just for fun as well, so I crossed my fingies and fired away!

I’ve used this camera at many different times. During my recovery after a surgery, and my Girlfriends recovery after she sprained her ankle. Going to Green Bluff to pick peaches and Okra among other things. While in the car going to pick out flooring or heading out to the Palisades for a hike. It really does come in handy and I never regret using it. It is still not my everyday camera, but it is one that I will continue to recommend and to use when the mood strikes.

Canon Demi, Kodak Ultramax 400, Green Bluff, wa. 2019

Canon Demi, Kodak Ultramax 400, Green Bluff, wa. 2019

There are many reasons why shooting half frame makes sense. With the price of certain films going up, and certain films becoming harder to find or even unavailable, you can literally stretch your film! Do you have 2 36 exposure rolls of Fuji Pro400H left? Why not make it so you have 144 frames instead of 72? For me, a big one is that I bulk load short rolls. I generally shoot for 20 frames per roll, so 40 is perfect in half frame and then I don’t have to reload a short roll or shoot a super long roll, like 72 frames. It extends my 100 ft. rolls and it also makes for a fun mix and match story telling. There is the wonderful in camera diptych one can strive for, or you can just do it in post if you don’t have the vision at the time or if you don’t come upon the right scenes in the right order. It is a brilliant way to use film differently, see differently and plan differently. If you have never shot half frame, why not look into the countless numbers of cameras out there that offer this magical expansion pack within the realm of film and pick one up?! It’s never too late, until it is.

Canon Demi, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. 2022

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