Roll 1: Testing an Olympus Infinity Jr/AF-10 Super

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I bought the Olympus Infinity Jr camera in a thrift store a few days ago. These cameras were introduced in the late 80s and are branded as Olympus AF-10 Super outside of North America, and also bears the pretentious nickname “Picasso Mini Super”. Actually I am not sure when they came out, the Olympus website has 1990, but I found newspaper and magazine reviews dated 1987. The lens is a fixed length Olympus 35mm f3.5 with 3 elements in 3 groups. The camera is totally automatic, including very simple film loading, and motorised film advance, DX film speed selection and so on. It takes two of the widely available AAA batteries – either lithium or alkaline – which is a real advantage when buying an older camera. A manual is available on-line at Orphan Cameras, a terrific resource for many manuals.

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There is a built-in flash with a range of 0.65 to 4.5 m for ISO 100 and 0.65 to 9 m at ISO 400. It has a switch beneath the lens that allows turning the flash off, forcing it on for fill or putting it into the auto mode. Closing the clam shell returns it to auto mode, which can be annoying when it fires unexpectedly. There is however a very simple modification for that problem which has been well described here by Hamish Gill in his excellent website 35MMC. I will be making that mod on this camera for sure as I had the flash fire unexpectedly. At the time I did not understand that the slowest shutter speed was 1/45th, or I might not have reshot without the flash as the chances of getting a good shot without the flash are pretty slim since long exposures are out of the question.

EDIT: I have acquired a second of these cameras that does not have the flash off switch. It has a different grip on the clamshell (not moulded to finger tip shape) and the strap is attached through 2 holes in the body rather than having a raised plastic bar on the side of the camera. On the top the shutter release button is grey, not black. The serial number is between the strap attachment holes, rather than on the bottom. In the viewfinder the frame lines don’t have a flash symbol (on the one with flash control the flash symbol is at the top near the left side) and the AF symbol in the upper right is tucked right in the corner on the one without flash control.

Since I don’t like auto flash features that can’t be turned off, I would strongly recommend that you get the one which has the off switch. The quick check if reading this in a store is to open the clam shell and see if there is a sliding flash switch below the lens.

Flash fired, unexpectedly

Flash fired, unexpectedly

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Flash turned off

The DX coding recognises ISO 50-1600 film and for non-DX coded film defaults to ISO 50. Even though it recognises all those film speeds, it only sets ISO 50, 100, 400 and 800 – I don’t know if it rounds up or down, but I am guessing down since the 1600 DX coding must be exposed as 800. There is no built-in over-ride for the DX reading although Hamish Gill also describes (here) how to recode the DX barcode on a film canister to shoot the entire film at a different ISO than it is rated. I have not tried it yet, but if I am going to use these automated point and shoot cameras quite a lot, then some of them will require that intervention I think.

With fill flash turned on

With fill flash turned on

The camera focuses automatically via 5-zone active Infrared from 0.65m to infinity. It includes focus lock, achieved by partially depressing the shutter release button when aimed at the subject to be in focus and then, while keeping the pressure on the button, reframing the shot and finishing pushing the shutter. It seems to work OK, though getting the pressure right takes a bit of practice – it is assisted by a green light in the viewfinder which comes on when focus is locked.

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Sharpness reduced in scanning with incorrect use of Digital ICE setting, not rescanned (yet).

According to the manual and with ISO 100 film the camera has an exposure range from EV 9 (f3.5 and 1/45th second) to EV 15 (f9, 1/400th). There is no other information about the shutter, other than that it is a programmed electronic shutter. From looking at the images which seem brighter in the very centre in all light I am assuming it opens as a polygon from the centre of the lens.

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The self timer is activated by holding a button down on top of the camera and then depressing the shutter – rather complicated especially if the camera is carefully resting on a rock or other uneven surface. A red light shows on the front of the camera for 10 seconds, followed by flashing for 2 seconds before the camera fires. If you close the clamshell, the timer is cancelled. There is apparently a hack to allow a remote infrared? release, but the website is no longer up.

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There is nothing subtle about street photography with a motor whining away advancing the film after each shot. But then wearing pyjamas downtown is not subtle either.

The camera came with a roll of unexposed and presumably expired “Blacks” ISO 200 c41 colour film. Blacks is a Canadian photography retail chain that seems to be slowly going out of business – they closed their last remaining store in Victoria (and British Columbia) a few weeks ago. This is unfortunate, because the film included processing and printing, and it would have been nice to cash in to make the purchase a hands-down terrific deal. As it turns out, the camera works quite well, and the film performed as if new so the $3 for film and camera were not wasted, nor the $5 for processing. I suspect the film is made by Fuji – that seems true of most of the re-branded film in Canada, such as the Easy-Pix film still found in some drugstores.

Reading about film shooters’ woes on the internet, I feel very lucky to live in a town with several places that process c41 film (same day), and a couple that do E6 and black and white (takes a few days). In this instance I shot the film on New Year’s day between about 1 and 3:30pm, found that one of the 1 hour processing places was open on the holiday and had my film in hand at 4:30. Ideal timelines for testing a camera and apparently impossible to many people reading this. I might not have got back into film had it been more difficult to get my results back.

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I have a soft spot for Olympus point and shoot cameras as so many of them have exemplary design, great ergonomics and good to excellent optics. It was an Olympus Pen half-frame that got me back into film, and an XA or XA2 that is now always in my pocket, so I was happy to give the Infinity Jr a try. It is bigger than the XA cameras, even when they have their flash attached, so not as pocket friendly – the XAs can easily travel in my jeans but the Infinity Jr would be uncomfortable.

I quite like this camera, but I don’t think it will be out with me a lot. The XA and XA2 are better cameras – more control (the XA is aperture priority and manual focus), wider EV ranges, better lenses as far as I can tell, at least as good light metering and smaller with equally as good ergonomics, so why would I switch? But it sure is fun to experiment, and nice to have a little camera like this around for occasional use.

I took a few other pictures which will show up on my blog in the near future – I will cross reference to this blog so a pingback should show up in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Roll 1: Testing an Olympus Infinity Jr/AF-10 Super

  1. Reblogged this on burnt embers and commented:

    This is a rare two-for-one day. This post is about the camera I used for my first roll of film on 52 Rolls, with a selection of photographs. Tomorrow, here at Burnt Embers, I will post more from the same roll of film.

    Like

  2. Haha, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life … But Howard is a new one 😉

    Nice write up, and great photos!

    I’ve got a another post about this camera brewing, should be ready in a week or so … I had a lot of fun forcing it to work in very low light with 3200iso film 🙂

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    • Darn, sorry about that Hamish. There is a Howard Grill photographer that sometimes comments on my blog – I will fix the text!

      That will be interesting to see how you did that, and what the results look like. These are not bad little cameras – I would recommend it to someone that does not want to pay the XA2 premium.

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    • Thanks Melinda. It was pretty dark in that alley, unlike when we walked through when it was much better lit. Chilly too since it was a clear sunny day it was also just around freezing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Wharf Street Stroll - the rest of Ehpem Roll 1

  4. for some reason my infinity jr doesnt have a switch to turn flash off – how should i resolve this if i dont want to shoot with flash? Do i need to buy film thats much higher iso?

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    • Hi William, I am off in the field so can’t check cameras, and in case recently gave away my version without the flash-off switch. I don’t really know what to recommend as with this camera you are pretty much stuck with flash if the light meter calls for it since you can’t change any settings useful to the problem. The camera meters up to 800ISO, and will read 1600ISO film, but expose it at 800. So you could try 800 or 1600 but both are getting harder to find and I find they are pretty expensive. 400 on the other hand is usually not too grainy, easy to come by, and will prevent the flash in pretty much all daylight conditions. Give 400 a try, and keep your eye open for one of these cameras with the flash off switch! Best of luck getting what you want from it. They are pretty serviceable cameras with decent lenses, so worth giving it a shot.

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