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.
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.
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 use am going to use these automated point and shoot cameras quite a lot, then some of them will require that intervention I think.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.