Powershovel SuperHeadz – Golden Half

I fell in love with this camera immediately. Look at it…look!!


It came complete with box, instructions (in Japanese) and a free film in the small box (which I used for this test). Unfortunately, it didn’t always look like this. I spent some time cleaning loads of sticky goo that covered it from top to bottom. I have suspicions it was tobacco residue, whatever it was…it was gross.


First I tried hand sanitizer as it was the only thing I had to “hand” so to speak. But that didn’t really work, it just moved the stickiness around. So I ordered 99% IPA (isopropyl alcohol) from amazon.jp and that worked a treat….now look at my cool looking camera…wait is that a half-frame mask? NOOOOO, but it is so pretty, designer even. I have a designer, half-frame camera. Oh, my heart is torn.

Oh well, I better get to testing it. But first, here is the website for this camera..and yes I did find it in a junk bin, ’cause it was gross. You can find technical details on that site, but no date as it seems to be still available new from certain places. This is the Chelsea Maika version. After a little research, I found this person is the author of a book called, “My life as a Golden Half”. I found a second-hand Japanese copy for 1 cent on Amazon.jp and am awaiting its arrival. I am very curious by the premiss of the book.

“Powershovelbooks handed Golden Half cameras, cult old-school half-sized cameras that were recently re-released by the Japanese company SuperHeadz, to 11 half-Japanese female models–who took hundreds of pictures of themselves, their friends, their homes, travels, daily landscapes and abstract worlds. The result is a vivid, radiant, sometimes ephemeral and gently erotic review of the lives of a group of carefree young women living between Tokyo and the countries of their second halves. But far from a frivolous collection of snapshots, this volume is a revealing compendium by some very promising new talents in Japanese photography.”

Living in Japan right now, I understand a little about the stigma of the term Hafu. I love that this book and the camera is called “golden half” and celebrates the wonderful mix of cultures.

But did this camera work? How was the film? I wish I had researched it before I used it as I might have taken completely different photos. I basically wandered around as just shooting. I hadn’t cleaned it at this point, just the lens, so it was awful to hold. I wanted to get the test over and done.


Well, it worked. It is useless when pointed towards the sun, look at that first shot. There is also a weird pinhole type effect with the center much sharper than the edges. I missed a few shots by forgetting to take off the lens cover…honestly, amateur! I am tempted to use it again and take people shots.

Keep or sell: I hate half-frames, but the backstory of this camera makes me want to keep it or at least put it together with the book and offer it as a gift. It goes into the…oh-I-hope-I-can-keep-it pile.


Olympus Pen EED

This camera caused me a little trouble as you will see later. It is a half frame camera from the Olympus EE series. This version was first introduced in 1967 and has an f1.7 lens and was the first of the series to have a self timer.

To find a good one, with the Cds meter working can be very expensive. To find one in a junk bin is almost impossible. It also needs the banned mercury cell battery. So after putting in an alternative I also loaded an expired film.

The camera is zone focused and the exposure settings are automatic. So just judge the distance then point and shoot.

Ok some are great, some are weird – the negatives looked either over exposed or badly processed. So I tried another, fresher film.

Same issues. Hmm so I thought I would try a back and white film so I could process it myself.

Ok, better but there are still over exposed shots. There were some shots that were blurred too that I didn’t post. So the camera worked a little, but it is not perfect. It looks in great condition, no fungus or haze…but something is not right. There is something about this camera that I just don’t like. I am not overawed by how it looks either. Usually I would love a camera just because of the f1.7, but I think the lack of control or information makes me feel uncomfortable. There is literally no scales or needles to let you know what the camera is choosing to shoot at.

Keep or Sell – not keeping, but not sure I feel comfortable selling. I might put it on ebay for a minimum price, postage only.

Koroll 24S

This summer I went for a mooch around Bakewell with my sister. Usually she lets me pick the destinations, but recently she has begun to search for places to visit which is a very nice surprise. Sometimes she chooses places I would not so I get to see different things. This time she chose a place I really did want to visit, Bakewell of the bakewell tart fame. We actually tried the bakewell pudding while there, to be honest I prefer the tart. But I digress…

While there I saw a zenith in a charity shop window and thought I would take a look. As I already had a zenith (yet to post at this time) I wasn’t really in the mind to buy it.  You rarely see vintage cameras in shops these days as the charities seem to prefer to sell them on eBay. As I was looking the assistant came over and said, “we have some more over here”. So off I trundle to take a look and there sat the Koroll 24S. It looked beautiful and for £20 I thought it was a price I was willing to pay.

What caught my eye first was the “Milano Italy” on the lens barrel. I didn’t really think about it further than that. Take my money!  After a bit of research I found that this camera is from 1952, of course produced in Italy, sold through Boots in the UK. I already knew it was a 120mm camera, but I was surprised to see two red film views on the back panel. Why? Well it is a half frame camera, that means you get 24 photos when usually you only get 12. I had no idea there were half-frame medium format cameras. The resulting negative would be larger than a 35mm so the grain should still be reasonable.

The skin looked at little tatty on this one, but I could fix that. It still had the screw in lens cap attached. It also had a case, but that fell apart as soon as I took the camera out of it. It was made from a hard plastic type material and had split at all the joints. AND inside was a film. I could see the numbers through the red holes. It was only partly used so even if the back had been opened by mistake somewhere along the way I might still be able to retrieve a few shots. How exciting, I had never found a camera with a film inside…would there be shots from 1950 Italy?? I doubt it, but I could dream.

I played with the camera for a while and used the roll up and got it developed.

So this was the roll in the camera. It wasn’t fogged very much but the previous owners had under exposed the shots and they were too dark, apart from the ones in the sea. The other shots were by me finishing the film. The last one is where I forgot to wind on the film. But it worked! I wish I could give the previous owners their two shots. Maybe one day someone who knows them will see this.

I found a manual online, but really there is nothing to this camera. There are two dials on the lens barrel, one for the aperture and one for the speed. There are two choices for each. The aperture choices are f16 or f8, the speed is either bulb or 1/50th. The speed choice are really surprising, why bulb? So basically there is one choice for speed and you need a steady hand. It also means choosing a low ASA/ISO speed is your best bet. You focus by setting the distance, guessing basically. The focus dial is tiny and on the very edge of the lens, there are indents around the lens tip to help your grip. To wind on the film you move the number from one red screen to the other.

This website says this is one of the easiest cameras to mod to take 35mm film, I might try that sometime.

I went for a walk around my hometown, camera loaded with Fuji acros 100. Here are the results.

I was quite pleased with the panning shot of the birds, the relatively in focus one. That is tricky with only a 1/50th speed. I really like this camera and will be keeping it, maybe modding it with a funky skin when I get the chance.

Olympus Pen EE2

I actually had 3 attempts to buy this camera. The first was utterly broken and I took it apart because it was only a couple of dollars. The second was bought on eBay and the red flag didn’t work so I sent it back for a refund. So then I contacted an eBay seller I have used before to see if he had one in stock. He did, but to be honest charged me a little too much. Ah well.

So when it arrived I decide to reskin it. I think it looks lovely. I have way too much of this material, but I think it makes my cameras look ‘mine’.


This website has so much more information and has a great review of the same camera. My favourite part about this camera that there is no need for batteries if the selenium cell works and this one did. It was produced from 1969-77 and is a half frame camera. It is a straight point and shoot, no zoning. There are two shutter speeds only 1/200th and 1/40th. If you choose a manual aperture you only get the latter and that means you need a REALLY steady hand. This website has more details on using that as a chosen effect for this camera. The minimum focal distance is 1.5m which is a little long and caught me out a few times.

Here is my test roll.


Of course as a half-frame camera you get twice as many photos than usual. As you can see it worked. As I specifically bought this camera there is no keep or sell. It is all mine 🙂

As an interesting note I usually use Kodak d-76 developing fluid, but I had run out. So for this roll I used fuji super prodol SPD which is half the price here. Use the iPhone app Film Developer Pro to work out processing times  as you can change choices such as temperature and it will adjust the time for you. I then put the times in the app Develop! for an actual processing timer. The first app does have a timer, but I prefer the second app for that. The problem I had with this film was that all my saved recipes are for D-76 and the database for SPD is very small. The SPD is also a speedy process, much quicker than D-76. That meant I could not just copy the times. The film I used was a lomography one, which is T-Max 100 in disguise. It was not in the database for SPD. SOOOOO I used the details for fuji acros 100 which was in the database for both developers and did some math. I figured that if I multiplied the d-76 time by 0.6 then I could get a rough developing time for the SPD. As you can see it worked. Yeah for math.

Keep or Sell: I kept if for a long time as I liked the skin I put on it, but at the end of the day it is a half frame, which is not my favourite. Sold and I managed to get my money back.



Olympus PEN EF

This camera was in a right state when I found it. The seals had disintegrated, the batteries had been left in the compartment and leaked so badly I struggled to get them out. I spent ages cleaning out the compartment with vinegar and other things, but nothing I did would make the flash work again. Even the skin was in an awful state. So after trying to fix the flash I got to work on the skin and seals.

After all that, it didn’t look too bad. This was the last half frame camera Olympus released, in 1981. You can read more than I care to write at this great website. It is a real point and shoot. No zoning. There is a red flag that pops up and stops the shutter in low and high light situations and this one’s seemed to work as expected.

Now clean and tidy..did it work. I was expecting the shutter blades to be jammed or the speeds to be off. Here is the film I shot.

It worked great. I scanned the photos a bit dark, but other than that they are sharp and generally well exposed.

So, keep or sell? I can’t bring myself to keep something that doesn’t quite work. Every time I use it I will hear a little voice going, “The flash doesn’t work, the flash doesn’t work”. I put it on eBay and noticed all the other EFs listed say the flash doesn’t work either. I think I will stick to my PEN EE2, which apparently I have not tested yet as it is not on this blog….too many cameras alert!

Oh and here is another person who likes Olympus too.

Canon Demi EE28

This is another one of the cameras I got at the camera fair. I mainly bought it so I could practice reskinning it. As the camera is from 1967 I decided on a rather tacky animal print cover. I also changed the light seals as the originals had completely disintegrated. As you can see I did a very messy job. I guess I knew I would not be keeping it and didn’t really care about it as I have a camera from the Olympus Pen EE series. That being said it is a lovely camera with a nice weight and feel to it. If I didn’t already have a nice one like this I would happily kept it.

As this camera has a selenium photocell it does not need batteries. I didn’t test it with a flash as my test run with it was outside, but it does have a hotshoe on the top. It looks and acts a lot like the Olympus Pen ee series, like those camera this is a half frame. One difference is that instead of a red flag that pops up to stop under or over exposure this camera has a scale in the viewfinder. It has a red section on the top and bottom, mine often still fires if the needle is in those sections, but it serves as a good warning. The other zones are for the speeds 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th, 1/300th. There is also an aperture ring, but I kept it on auto

As I had some processing issues lately I decided to use a black and white and process it myself later. It took a while to finish the film as the 36 exposures were turned into 72 by the half frame aspect.

I tried taking shots in a few conditions, such as shooting into the sun. None of the shots were underexposed, but a few were over. One or two were so over exposed that I could not even scan them. For cameras like this the hardest thing to remember is to change the zoned focusing ring because nothing changes through the viewfinder. For the most part I did remember for this camera, mainly because of the scale on the back. I found that really useful.

So here are my test shots. I took them around my home, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

When I scanned the negatives it gave the shots a sepia type hue, I liked it so kept it. You can see that for the most part the exposure is spot on and they are as sharp as a button..since when are buttons sharp??

My final verdict, I recommend this camera if you can find one.

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