Gosh, this camera has a lot of names, but in Japan, it is a Kiss. I find a million of these in junk bins, I just had to try one while I had the chance. They are as cheap as chips, plus I already had a lens.
You can read all the technical details you might ever need here. As you can see it is from 1993 and is cheap and plasticky. This one has a panoramic switch, but when I used it the mask got stuck and didn’t retract unless I pushed it, so I just didn’t bother using it after that. The flash also didn’t work. The last thing that bothered me was the super slow focusing. I can find millions and I pick up a faulty one, perfect!
The thing I did like was the super silent shutter, honestly the quietest I have ever heard. Hardly even a whoosh or a pfttth. Perfect for ninja stealth photography…not so perfect when you are shouting, “focus, damn it.” Though the bodies are easy and cheap to get, the lenses are a bit trickier as they fit modern digital cameras. I lucked into this 35-70mm zoom which was as clean as a whistle, but not wide enough or long enough. I much prefer a 28mm.
Here are my test shots which I took at Mashiko Pottery Fair and a few at the Hitachi Nemophilia Festival.
I really didn’t like this camera. While using it I barely thought about what I was doing, I just didn’t like the feel of it. It just didn’t click with me. Isn’t that funny? How one camera you love and another you hate, but there really is no reason why. I was also a bit late for the nemophilia which didn’t add to my feelings about the camera.
Keep or sell: These cameras are a dime a dozen and with this one having issues I think it will just go in the bin.
As you can see from the label, I got the body of this camera for $10 in a junk shop. I already had a lens that fit it due to another purchase. It was clean but needed the seals replaced and for once I did a pretty good job.
It takes 2 regular LR44 batteries for the light meter, but it does work without them in a manual mode which a huge bonus. The light meter consists of a circle on the inside right of the viewfinder. Just match the needle to the circle by changing the speed or aperture. To turn the meter on, move the film advance lever to uncover the red dot. The film advance has one of the shortest movements I have come across. And that is it, all you need to know. Manual focusing of course.
The XR 500 was produced in 1978. There is also an auto version but it seems to be lacking features too and this great blog does not recommend it. However, how many features do you really need?
I did find it a little heavy and a touch big considering the lack of features. BUT you can pick them up very cheap on eBay so it is a perfect camera to start with if you want to learn the basics. PLUS the Pentax-K fit means finding a lens is also a breeze.
I put in some Fuji 1600 natura which I had had lying around for ages as I was going to a festival. I wanted to try it without a flash. In retrospect it wasn’t the best camera to try it with as I do have another camera with an f1.4 lens, this lens only had f2.5. Plus it was untested at this point. I also tried it on a very bright day, which was tough for the film too.
I have another roll of the film which apparently can only be bought in Japan, but really I wasn’t impressed. It might be the processing or scanning, so worth another try.
Keep or sell: I am going to keep the lens. The body is not worth selling from Japan due to the postage rates, so I think I will put it in my-not-sure-what-to-do-with box and lend it to people who want to try film. I would recommend the camera if you are short of cash, but there are funkier, better cameras out there if you can spend a little more.