Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's a Fuji Fotorama! FP-1 style.

Sorry I haven't been posting much this year, just dealing with writing weekly papers for a master's program. Makes it tough to want to write something else! But, here, now, I am. Previously I chatted up the Konica Instant Press, one of the few professional alternatives to the Polaroid 180/185/190/195 (I can't believe that was over a year ago). I have since sold the Konica, as I found it a bit too finicky and somewhat fragile for my tastes. There is one other camera to offer some competition for these cameras...the Fuji Fotorama FP-1 Professional. This camera has more information on the front of the camera than any other camera I've seen, I think. Throughout this article, I will occasionally compare the FP-1 to the Konica, as they are the two main alternatives to the Polaroid cameras, and more similar to each other than other instant cameras. And many who are looking for a somewhat rare alternative to a 180 or 195 will most likely look at these two cameras. There is also an excellent review of the FP-1 on filmwasters.com.

The Konica is from the 1980s, while the FP-1 was made around 1995. It was probably created as a proofing tool for professional photographers, and I believe that Fuji was not even making peel-apart film at that time (or maybe that had just started), so it would have had to use Polaroid peel-apart. This camera uses Polaroid Type 100 films, such as 664, 669, ID-UV, etc., as well as Fuji FP-100C, FP-100B, and FP-3000B. A couple more shots of the unopened camera, which is adequately compact...

One interesting thing about the design is the nice grip and handle on the side....but if you wanted to use a neck or shoulder strap, the camera would hang sideways. There are no other spots on the camera to clip anything other than on that side. So that would be a bit awkward. On the back we see that it is similar to the Konica in that it is basically a camera with an instant back stuck onto it, the instant backs you can get for other cameras. A Polaroid on the back of the Konica, a Fuji back on the FP-1. This is the same back that is used for the Fuji "Holgaroid" backs. Still, the Fuji backs are nice and allow for easy pull of all peel-apart films (Polaroid cameras do not like Fuji peel-apart sometimes).
The camera is opened from a button on the top.

When you open the camera, the lens doesn't come forward automatically.

Instead, there are clips on the bottom you press together to pull the lens and bellows out from the body.

The lens is 105mm, while the Konica is 110mm, and accepts a 40.5mm filter. The aperture is from 5.6 to 64, which is not as wide as the Konica, which goes from 4 to 64, while the 195 is 3.8. So it is probably less useful in low light, unless you are using a flash or 3000 speed film. Times are from B to 500. The Konica has a B and T setting. Cocking the shutter is done on the lens, same as the Konica, though the shutter button is on top of the camera and much more manageable than the Konica's button that is on the front cover. The Konica wins hands down for focus distance, with a built in macro of 0.6 meters, but the FP-1 is close at 0.8 meters, both much closer than the Polaroid 195's 1.2 meters.

The one thing that I found kind of odd on the FP-1 is the focusing method, which is a dial on the top back of the camera.

I thought that this would be a pain, but after reminding myself where to focus the first few uses, it became second nature, and is actually very precise. The Polaroid 180/195 uses the same focus method as every folding Polaroid camera, and it works but I've always found it to be a bit loose and not particularly precise.
When looking through the viewfinder, you see guidelines, one for infinity and one for the closest setting.

This do not move. When you focus with the Konica, the guidelines actually move in the finder so you always know where your edges are. So that's another nifty advantage of the Konica. Focusing is done in the small circle inside the finder, same as most cameras.
As far as size goes, it isn't small, but no peel-apart camera is.

Comparing it to the 190 and the Mamiya Universal, you can see that it is fairly large.

But since the FP-1 is mostly plastic, it is much lighter than the 190, and certainly a million times lighter than the all metal Mamiya body.
So the Konica does have some advantages over the Fuji, but which do I prefer after using both? I'd have to say the FP-1. It has a more solid feel than the Konica. The Konica bellows were paper thin, and while no bellows are free from the risk of leaks (I actually am pretty sure there is a leak somewhere in the FP-1 bellows), the Konica bellows were particularly weak. And I never really felt like I was enjoying using the Konica...it was always doing something weird and it was awkward to shoot. The FP-1 feels natural in my hands, and has very comfortable grips on both sides of the camera. I was worried about the focusing dial, but it's really quite easy to use. I shot more packs through the FP-1 in one day than I did the entire year I owned the Konica. Price is similar, expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $1500 for either camera. The Fuji FP-1 is a bit easier to find than the Konica. It is newer and there were probably more of them made. You can find an FP-1 in like new condition, as I did, with very little trouble.
So, after all that, how does it shoot? I ran three kinds of film through it. First I did three packs of 664. Because I wasn't using a filter on it, I didn't want to waste my ID-UV and 669, so I wanted films that work well without the ND filter and were easy to control exposure-wise. I love 664 and it shot very well in the camera with its low contrast ways. Sharp yet soft at the same time. This was around 250 and f11.

In this shot, you see that even at 250 and f11, it still has decent depth of field.

Then I ran a pack of 100 Sepia, which is ISO 1500. I believe I shot these at 500 and 5.6. Odd film and sometimes difficult to work with, but still very sharp and did well in the camera.

Since I didn't want to use my ID-UV but wanted color in the camera, I ran a couple packs of Type 108, expired January 2000. This film is always very blue and is sometimes limited in its uses because of this (and the fact that it overexposes super easy), but it worked surprisingly well in the FP-1. I always look out for reds because it is about the only color that shows up, with everything else being blue. The shots came out nice and sharp and seem to work much better than in the 190. Which is good because I have a couple cases of 108! So now I have a camera that I like to use that produces decent results with the finicky film. Overall, I think the FP-1 produces sharper images than the 180 and 195, though not as sharp as the Mamiya Universal with the 50mm lens.

So, there is is, the Fuji Fotorama FP-1! I like this camera and plan on using it as my alternate instant peel-apart camera when I go out and shoot. I am running out of Polaroid cameras to talk about! I guess I will have to move to some of the cheaper cameras at some point. Still going to talk about the Bronica S2 series soon. Until then!

11 comments:

  1. Nice! Too bad they don't make it any more but they'll make their GF670 for their 120/220 film and no cameras for their peel apart it'll be nice if they did then they would not discontinue most of their instant peel apart film.

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  2. good write up! it's an interesting camera for sure :)
    and I'm still looking forward to read about your bronicas ^^

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  3. So you always use an ND filter when shooting ID-UV and 669? what for exactly?

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  4. to keep the aperture wide open, and shooting slower seems to produce better colorsand makes it easier to control the exposure...

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  5. I find your site very informative.

    I am just getting back into instant film. Using a Polaroid 230. I would like something with exposure control. I had not heard of this FP-1. It looks like a good alternative to the Polaroid 180/195. In a quick search for it I find nothing in this country. Did you bring it back from Japan?

    I see it's starting to heat up in your neck of the woods. I hope it's not too hot when we come in the first of June to visit the daughter.

    D.L. Wood

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  6. I bought mine on ebay. Yep, it's slowly getting hotter!

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  7. I bought a polaroid 250 a little while ago, and I loved it, I shoot entirely fp-3000 and I really like it (cheaper than impossible film). I'm debating between a konica and fp-1. They seem to be pretty comparable cameras, and the final results are probably somewhat similar with such film, you have owned both (and more) what would you advice be? I shoot portraiture and landscapes on B&W, but I would also use it as a street camera; occasionally. The Mamiya is just too big for me.

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  8. I prefer to shoot with the Fuji, but the Konica is probably a better portrait camera. But it seems to be a bit more finicky for general use. The Fuji is easier to handle and shoot with in general, I think. And the Fuji may be a bit more sturdy, though they are newer than the Konicas. You reall can't go wrong with either. The Konica looks a bit cooler! But I prefer the Fuji, personally.

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  9. This is a very good input, from someone who has used both cameras. I think comparing the konica to the fp-1 is like comparing a honda to a toyota, you can't really go wrong with either.

    Please help me clarify some details, with your help:

    a) the fp-1 has a cold shoe; which could be used to place a meter or a flash with a cold to hot shoe adapter.
    b) the fp-1 (or the konica) has no meter, and no batteries.
    c) have you had better results scanning the negatives or positives?
    d) the fp-1 (or the konica) is possible to service yourself (to some extend) such as CLA and basic care, I assume it's relatively weatherproof (unlike many digital cameras).
    e) can the "lens cover" just open on its own, or is it pretty reliable?
    f) what does the lens/film surface translates to in 35mm world? From the shots only I would consider it "normal" (~50mm-ish)
    g) do you have a preferred way to store the images? i.e. do they scratch easily or fade with time? do they curl with time? (I've only had the Polaroid 250 for a few, so I'm pretty clueless on how to store those properly, right now I use a shoe box).

    Thank you.

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  10. I never use a flash, so I couldn't help you much there. I assume you are referring to Fuji FP-100B as far as scanning. I do make negatives, but prefer the prints. But you can always do both! You don't destroy the print to make a negative. Both camera are easy to clean, but would be difficult to repair. Parts are almost non-existent. Unlike the 180/195 where you can mostly use any folding Polaroid for parts. Lens cover on both is very secure, no chance of opening on its own. no idea on the lens conversion, i'd say maybe a little bit wider than 50mm. I store my prints in plastic bins the size of shoeboxes. i have like 5000 prints, so not much else to do with them at this point.

    somewhere i have a blog post on the manual cameras, good overview of the cameras and differences/similarities. might answer some of your questions better.

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  11. quick question in regards to the focusing. I have one and when I look through the viewfinder, through the circle inside, i can see two images, but no matter how much i turn the focus wheel it doesn't line up, unless it's something close up.

    Is that normal? or do you think this possibly not working properly?

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