Camera test: the funky Fujipet

15 Aug

Camera Review
Fuji Fujipet
(the cameras from my collection)

Camera from my collection: a Fuji Fujipet

A camera from my collection: a Fuji Fujipet

I am not going to write a lengthy narration about this camera because there are a few good sites dedicated to it,  like this fantastic (apparently US-based) online shrine to the Fujipet wonder.
and check out this brilliant review at the Filmwasters from 2007

The Fujipet is a toy camera. The built is sturdier than that of most toy cameras though like them it has a plastic lens. My Fujipet  is of 1957-1958 vintage and was apparently sold in Japan. Most Fujipets were sold in the domestic Japanese market.  The camera’s design is funky, very Japanese and quite modernist. The operation is simple, toy like because it is a toy camera: there are two buttons, one cocks the shutter, the other releases it. The camera is a joy to handle and play with. It uses readily available 120 format film.  Only one shutter speed. Probably 1/30 of a second. Plus a bulb setting. Three aperture settings – 11, 16 and 22. Flash synchro contact. That’s it.

Camera from my collection: a Fuji Fujipet

Fuji Fujipet

Fujipet is gorgeously designed piece of low key photographic equipment and would make a perfect camera pet for a child or a teenager. Unfortunately cameras made in the Soviet Union for children and adolescents, like the Smena series, were way too complicated and probably dissuaded most youngsters from pursuing photography further. Sadly nothing close  to the simple and beautifully designed Fujipet was ever manufactured in the old good  USSR. The camera is not a completely point-and-shoot automation, one still has to use his or her brains, admittedly very small amount of the substance is required, to set the aperture. In all other respects it is a carefree and guilt-free Holga like photographic experience.  The camera is a vintage substitute for Holga but not an inexpensive one. If you can get  Holgas on Ebay from Hong Kong at 19 euros apiece with postage included  (or at least once I spotted an offer as low as that), Fujipet is a rare collectible cult camera and the prices reach the astonishing 500 euros level.  Fujipets are rare guests on Ebay, less perhaps than a dozen is sold worldwide during a year. I paid about 140 euros for mine, admittedly an astonishing amount to pay for a toy camera (though Lomography marketing geniuses manage to peddle Lubitels at 300 bucks a pop) but I am probably the only person in Russia – or the Czech Republic – that owns one.  As a toy camera Fujipets had little appeal to diplomats, sailors and rare tourists from the Soviet Union to Japan in the late 50s and early 60s, the years when those design marvels were manufactured;  later they went all but  extinct and became a desirable collectible item in their country of origin. Apparently Fuji made a range of accessories for Fujipet which were only available in Japan like special carrying cases and Pet branded  filters for black and white photography.

Camera from my collection: a Fuji Fujipet

Fujipet

The verdict.
The camera scores five out of five for its space age design and quality finish and I would rate it four out of five in the toy camera usability department.  It is probably  a good substitute for Holga (though so far I haven’t used a Holga and don’t own one but I can well imagine what it can and cannot do).

Camera from my collection: a Fuji Fujipet

a Fuji Fujipet

For my test I ran two rolls of 120 format film through the camera. An expired Kodak Plus X Pan (expired 1985 but supposedly stored in frozen state,  the  seller’s courageous claim that I don’t quite believe) and an expired Kodak Ektacolor 160.
The Kodak Plus X Pan was developed at home in Tetenal Ulrafin Plus and Ektacolor was also developed in a table top Paterson tank using Calbe Chemie C-41 chemistry.

The Fujipet toy camera produces dreamy Holga or generic Lomo style images.  Its lens is soft,  the output is visually amorphous and quite  painterly. An expensive Holga substitute.

A few sample images:

A boat - Fuji Fujipet / film Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 expired

A boat - Fuji Fujipet / film Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 expired

Not so ancient inscriptions  - Fuji Fujipet / film Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 expired

Not so ancient inscriptions - Fuji Fujipet / film Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 expired

friends - Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

friends - Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

flowers - Fuji Fujipet and expired Kodak Ektacolor 160 film

flowers - Fuji Fujipet and expired Kodak Ektacolor 160 film

Russian navy Rusalka or Mermaid memorial, deliberate multiple exposures, Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

Russian navy Rusalka or Mermaid memorial, deliberate multiple exposures, Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze  -  Fujipet toy camera, Ektacolor Pro 160 film

Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze - Fujipet toy camera, Ektacolor Pro 160 film

No swimming (a pun for Russian speakers, as when the meaning of the sign actually read out, it can mean to sailing as well) -  Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

No swimming (a pun for Russian speakers, as when the meaning of the sign actually read out, it can mean to sailing as well) - Fuji Fujipet camera, expired (1985, used 2011) Kodak Plus X pan black and white film

Doing nothing - Fuji Fujipet toy camera from the year 1957/1958, tested in 2011, with Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 film and home development

Doing nothing - Fuji Fujipet toy camera from the year 1957/1958, tested in 2011, with Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160 film and home development

ship watching / boat spotting - deliberate double exposure, Fujipet toy camera, Kodak Ektacolor 160 film

ship watching / boat spotting - deliberate double exposure, Fujipet toy camera, Kodak Ektacolor 160 film

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