Kodak Ektar H35 Review – PCMag | Episode Movies

You’re not alone if you’re shopping for a film camera — the retro medium has made a comeback in recent years. And while there is a seemingly endless supply of vintage cameras for sale at thrift stores and camera shops, navigating this market takes a lot of expertise. If you just want to try out movies — and don’t want to spend a lot of money doing so — the Kodak Ektar H35 ($49.95) makes a lot of sense. It’s a pocket-friendly point-and-shoot with one-button operation and compatibility with standard 35mm film cartridges. It’s certainly a low-fi camera, but one with a lot of charm. The Ektar H35 is an easy (and affordable) way to see what photography was like before the days of digital technology.


Field, the cure for expensive films

(Image credit: Jim Fisher)

The Kodak Ektar H35 is a true point-and-shoot camera that takes 35mm film cartridges with a slight twist. The Ektar has a half format lens, so it gets twice as many images per roll: 48 instead of 24 or 72 instead of 36.

It does the trick by exposing a smaller portion of the negative than a full frame camera. While a full frame negative measures 24 x 36mm, the Ektar takes 35mm narrower 24 x 18mm images. It’s a historically common format – the Olympus PEN-F is a famous half-frame camera – and photo labs can easily process the film.

Two negatives of the Ektar H35 side by side, a building at dusk and a mailbox covered in stickers

The Ektar H35 compresses two images into the same space as a full-frame 35mm camera to make one (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

Given current film market prices, it’s a sensible decision – a 36-exposure Kodak Portra 400 roll, for example, costs about $16. There’s a certain appeal to getting twice as many photos for your money.

Kodak Ektar H35, back side with foil door open

(Image credit: Jim Fisher)

It also ensures a compact design. After all, the lens does not have to cover as much area as a full-frame camera. The Ektar H35 is small, just 2.4 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches (HWD) and featherweight at 3.5 ounces.

Build quality is nothing special. The camera is all plastic, but we like the attractive design and faux leather finish. The H35 is available in several two-tone looks – black, brown, sage green and sand yellow – all with silver accents on the front and a black rear. We received the Sage edition for review.

Kodak Ektar H35 sample image, cyclists in Manhattan

Kodak Gold 400 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

The controls are as simple as it gets. The film is loaded through the rear door and the film advance is on the back of the camera. The shutter button is at the top, along with a cut out window that shows how many photos you’ve taken. Below is the film rewind crank. There are no double exposures or similar creative modes on the camera; If that’s what you’re looking for, take a look at the upcoming LomoApparatus.

The power control for the flash is a collar around the lens that turns on or off with a twist. Be careful though and remember to turn off the H35 when you’re done shooting. Leaving it on will drain the AAA battery. At one point I left the camera on and unattended over a weekend and was greeted with a dead battery when I picked it up for a Monday morning walk.

Kodak Ektar H35, top view

(Image credit: Jim Fisher)


Flash required for indoor use

You will want to use the flash as it is a handy requisite for taking snapshots in anything dimmer than sunlight. The Ektar H35 features a 22mm f/9.5 lens; It’s a moderately wide-angle, but fairly weak, and paired with a firm 1/100 second shutter. I used ISO 400 color negative film and got good results outdoors with and without the flash and indoors with the flash on.

Kodak Ektar H35 example image, cat on stairs (inside)

Kodak Gold 400 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

The image quality is on the same level as disposable cameras. The H35’s lens is optical acrylic, not glass, and the pictures show it. Details aren’t razor-sharp, but the lens has enough resolving power that you can read the text on stickers and street art when you snap them. However, be careful not to shoot in the sun or against strong backlight; The plastic optics don’t handle flare very well at all, so backlit photos tend to be washed out with little contrast.

Kodak Ektar H35 example image, street scene with backlight

Kodak Gold 400 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

Focus is fixed so you don’t have to adjust the lens before shooting. However, be careful not to get too close to your subject, as the flash will blur detail in close-ups. Also keep in mind that if you hold the camera in landscapes, you’re taking photos in portrait orientation, the half-frame design makes for large photos. If you want to take a landscape photo, you have to hold the camera sideways, which is a bit counterintuitive for many photographers.

Kodak Ektar H35 sample image, Manhattan street scene with florist

Kodak Gold 400 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

You must take your film to a lab for processing. My local photo lab had no problem handling the half frame film. Depending on your local lab’s policy, you may have to spend more for prints or scans. Your biggest challenge may be finding a lab – mail order processing is an option if there isn’t a suitable lab in your area.


A good starter for the movie Curious

The Kodak Ektar H35 is a solid choice for younger creators looking to try film for the first time, as well as veterans chasing some nostalgia and wanting to run a few reels through one camera. It’s easy to use – it doesn’t get much simpler than a single button – and gets you around 48 to 72 photos on a roll of film, which is good news given current materials and processing costs.

Kodak Ektar H35 sample image, building at dusk with reflections in the glass

Kodak Gold 400 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

There are plenty of reusable compact film cameras with disposable camera quality optics. Most of the others are full frame, but also a good way to try movies.

Kodak Ektar front view

(Image credit: Jim Fisher)

We reviewed the Lomography Simple Use Film Camera a few years ago; It’s still available and comes with a few different film types preloaded. There are like-minded cameras from film brands like AgfaPhoto and Ilford, as well as others from Kodak and the OEM manufacturer behind the Ektar, the Reto Project. You might also want to consider trying an instant camera if you’re dying to try film but don’t have a convenient place to develop film.

Thanks to B&H Photo(Opens in a new window) for providing the camera for review and to The Phoblographer(Opens in a new window) for a roll of Kodak Gold 400 film.

advantages

  • Works with standard 35mm film cartridges

  • Half-frame recording gets 72 exposures per roll

  • Attractive design and price

  • Retro analog charm

  • One button operation

  • AAA power supply for flash

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The final result

If you’re looking to try a film camera, the Kodak Ektar H35 is an affordable option to get you started. Plus, the half-frame lens doubles the number of photos you get per roll to reduce material and processing costs.

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