Lubitel 166B TLR Camera

I recently became aware of the Lubitel range of cameras when I arranged for my husband, a couple of friends and myself to go on a photography workshop with Lomography in London.

We were to choose one of their range of cameras for the workshop which, involved an evening of wondering around Soho for a couple of hours taking night time shots with one of their loaned cameras.

We had to decide on which camera’s we would like to try beforehand so they could make sure it was available at the workshop. I therefore showed my husband the range of camera’s on the Lomography website and he decided that he liked the look of their Lubitel 166+ camera.

I asked him what he liked about it over the other cameras and he said he liked the fact it was a medium format camera using 120mm film (as he likes the square photos) and that you have to look down into the viewfinder rather than a standard camera that you put up to your eye. He also liked the fact it had two lenses rather than one and just the general box style of it.

I had never been particularly interested in this style of camera before. However, the more I researched it, the more fascinated I was by it.

When I booked the workshop, Lomography informed me that they may not have a spare Lubitel 166+ camera for my husband to try as they had already loaned one out and wasn’t sure if it would be back in the shop in time for the workshop.

I thought this would be a shame since he seemed so keen on trying it out so I thought about buying him one as a surprise so he would have his own to keep instead.

However, I wasn’t prepared to pay £289.00! I therefore began the hunt of finding a second hand cheaper one….

I quickly discovered that the actual Lomography 166+ Camera doesn’t seem to come up for sale second hand that often. There was one on eBay for £40 but it didn’t have it’s original box or any of the accessories that it would have originally come with. It also wasn’t in great condition with marks on the paintwork.

I knew from my research that this camera was based on the original Lomo Russian Lubitel camera and quickly found that various models of the original Lubitel camera are for sale in abundance second hand and at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

I quickly decided that I would like to buy him the Lubitel 166B model since it was a bit more simplified than the earlier models, plus it is easy to do multiple exposures if you wanted to because you have to wind the film on manually with this particular model.

Ideally I wanted to buy one that had the original box, instruction manual and accessories. A few complete ones I found on eBay in great condition unfortunately also came with a higher asking price of £60-£80 plus.

As luck would have it, I ended up purchasing one completely boxed in mint working condition (looked like it had hardly ever been used) with the original box, a film winding spool, soft case, lens cap, neck strap (still in packet!), english instruction manual and cable release from a guy in Littlehampton, which had recently been listed on Etsy for £34.50. What was even more lovely was that the date of manufacture is handwritten on the back of the instruction manual (February 1986):

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So I attended the Lomography Workshop and fortunately they were able to loan my husband the Lubitel 166+ camera. Since he isn’t that familiar with film camera’s, it quickly became clear that he had picked a rather complex camera to try out since it doesn’t have a built in light meter and the way of winding the film on in this camera and how to point and shoot it was extremely unusual to him.

On this particular evening in London, there was a constant heavy down pour of rain throughout the whole evening and we got completely drenched. It meant that it was very difficult for any of us to try and take decent photos outside and I found myself constantly apologising to my friends and husband for dragging them all they way from Brighton on the train (which had engineering works so was a long journey each way) to an event that none of us were really enjoying due to the bad weather.

What made things worse is that within 5-10 minutes of us leaving the Lomography shop to take our photos, it became clear that there seemed to be a fault with the Lubitel 166+ camera my husband was trying to use and it just didn’t seem to wind on properly and we weren’t sure if any of it was actually working at all. By this point we had lost the leader of the lomography workshop and was doing our own thing until it was time to return back to the shop and hand back our loan cameras and the films to be developed.

The following week, once our films had been developed by Lomography, we discovered that the Lubitel 166+ hadn’t produced any photos whatsoever and the roll came back blank so the camera hadn’t worked at all which was a shame.

This in turn, put my husband off completely using this style of camera. I then had to break the news to him that I had actually treated him to a version of one and as you can imagine, he wasn’t very excited by this.

So the camera arrived in the post and since I knew my husband wouldn’t be using it anytime soon I decided I would try it out for myself.

I managed to pick up a copy of the ‘Lubitel+ Love from the waist level’ book by Lomography cheaply on eBay (since Lomography have currently sold out of this book) and after reading that (which I really enjoyed) and watching various youtube videos and reading the actual Lubitel 166B instruction manual, I took the camera out to play and test that it actually worked.

As mentioned before, it doesn’t have a built in light meter and the photos I took was on a cloudy day. I was using Lomography Colour ISO 400 120mm film in the camera and rather than use a light meter, I went by my gut and my experience from using my Pentax K1000 camera and shot the film at aperture f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/125.

After my husband’s experience with the camera in London, I was quite nervous about getting the photos developed as I wasn’t sure I had done anything right on the camera and if there would be any photos. The main reason for this is because the shutter button releases so fast when pressed that it almost doesn’t feel like the camera has taken an actual photo.

Yesterday, I picked up the negatives from Colourstream in Brighton and thankfully there were photos…..11 in total! I knew I had missed a frame because I accidentally wound the camera on over one frame in error and couldn’t figure out how to wind it back.

Here are the photos:

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect which in my opinion is part of the fun of film photography.

However, I am quite impressed by the colours and detail in these photos! I really love the overall feel and style of photo that the camera produces. The last image is a double exposure as I wanted to see how that would look but I chose a tree and a bush to photograph which seem to merge so it may be difficult to tell that it’s actually a double exposure.

I really love this camera which I’m quite surprised at. I’ve much to learn still as some of the photos are wonky because I’m not used to shooting a camera ‘from the hip’ so to speak so I’m currently working out the best way of holding the camera to keep the image as straight as possible without having to use a tripod.

I feel this camera actually suits my style of photography because it is a slow camera. By that I mean that you have to take your time in taking a photograph as it’s not easy to point and shoot. You have to really work on getting the photo as you want it in the viewfinder and it shows as a reversed image which I’m actually fine with but I can imagine some people may find that quite tricky to work with if they want absolute precision of an image. As I work quite artistically with my photography, there is give in my style of photos so they don’t have to be 100% accurate to what I’m actually seeing.

A lot of my photos tend to be of still objects so I can patiently take my time perfecting the shot to how I want it to be. I would imagine in other fields of photography such as street photography that this camera would be an absolute nightmare to use because I would imagine the moment would have passed in the time it would have taken to line up the shot, get the exposure correct and distance etc.

I also need to work on the distance scale. From my first attempt, I couldn’t seem to see the focus in the viewfinder making any difference if I changed the lens from 1 metre to infinity. Apparently from what I’ve read the camera has a well know flaw for this and most people just tend to shoot with it on infinity.

You’ll see that some of my photos do seem out of focus so I’m hoping as I use the camera more, I’ll become more accurate with the focusing and if not, then perhaps I’ll just have to see that as being a fun quirk of the camera!

Now I know it can take photos, I’m going to be using it a lot to learn more about how it works. This camera is also quite light weight as I suppose it is cheap and cheerful in comparison to better made TLR’s but I actually like that because it is easy for me to walk around with it.

I look forward to blogging further about this camera as and when I take more photos with it.

I’m also hoping that when I show my husband the photos, it may encourage him to try it out again.

 

 

PhotoKlassik International Magazine Review

I first heard about this magazine through a fellow blogger called karenshootsfilm where she had noted that the magazine were on Kickstarter trying to raise enough funds to publish their first international magazine about analogue photography.

This magazine has been produced for a while for the German market but due to the popularity of it, they felt it was time to produce an international English version.

For sometime I have been trawling the local newsagents in the hope I may one day find a magazine purely dedicated to analogue photography. There are plenty dedicated to digital photography (sometimes with an article about analogue photography here and there) but I’d yet to find a magazine like this.

I therefore knew I wanted to invest in the Kickstarter scheme and subscribe to it for a year.

Thankfully a lot of other people must have felt the same way since they managed to reach in excess of their target on Kickstarter and the magazine was published.

It’s a quarterly magazine and the first edition then needed to be printed once the Kickstarter pledge had ended so I had to be patient and wait a couple of months to receive my copy.

On first impressions, I was a little underwhelmed by the front cover page. To be honest, if I was looking in the photography section of the magazines of my local newsagents I think I would have most likely missed this because I find the front cover photo misleading.

For me personally on initial glance I thought it would be a magazine related to classical music or some form of music due to the woman holding the violin. I also wasn’t that keen on the Red and Grey type set which seemed a little dated to me (and not in a cool retro way). The caption on the front where it states ‘The entire world of analog photography’ is quite small and overshadowed by the photo so again, I probably wouldn’t have read that.

However, I’m a big believer of ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ so I was keen to see what contents were inside.

The magazine is very thick and reasonably heavy and is printed on good quality, glossy sheets of paper.

Although I knew the magazine would be about analogue photography, I wasn’t sure exactly what type of content it would contain, whether it would be about the technical side of how to use a film camera etc or more articles on analogue photographers.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The content is great and varied. There is a section on Portfolios, gear talk & techniques and the world of analogue.

I wondered if a magazine so thick would have a lot of adverts but it hardly had any and was full of good quality decent content which I found very interesting and read every single page.

A couple of my favourite articles to mention was one about Bellamy Hunt from Japan Camera Hunter. It was really interesting reading about his photography background and how Japan Camera Hunter came about.

Another one was the One Hour Photo Re-Imagined which mentioned some analogue photography shops around the globe that I wasn’t aware of and would definitely like to visit if I’m ever abroad in their countries.

Since I’m a massive fan of instant photography, I absolutely loved the article about Lovers of analogue photography which was dedicated to the subject of instant film photography over several pages.

PhotoKlassik International was so much more than just an analogue magazine as it has introduced me to some new photographers who I had never heard of before and really liked their photographic work. I also learnt about new shops and some interesting information about some cameras and film which would have taken me hours to research and find on the internet.

Overall, I think this magazine is great and I’m not disappointed in purchasing it.

It is quite an expensive magazine (£17.90 per issue) so this may put some people off purchasing it but I feel the price tag is justified for the quality of the content inside the magazine. Plus since it’s quarterly, I think the price is reasonable.

Through Kickstarter and because I signed up for the annual subscription, I did pay slightly less than the cover price (I think it was around £15 per issue with postage costs).

If I had only bought the first issue and not subscribed, I certainly would have signed up for the subscription now and I’m really looking forward to receiving my next copy in a few months time.

If you’re interested in purchasing this magazine, click here. If you enter code PKIFIRST10 you’ll receive a 10% discount on a one-year subscription where four issues will be delivered to your door.

 

My Contact Sheet Obsession

Back in July I took an adult education course in Black and White Darkroom Photography (which I’ve written about in some of my previous blogs).

I decided to take the course again from September because it was slightly longer (eight weeks rather than five) and I felt I’d be able to expand on knowledge from what I learnt in the original course.

One of the parts I have really enjoyed from doing the course is making the contact sheets. For some reason I love this process over actually enlarging a photo and making a larger print and have ended up spending the last few weeks of the course purely doing contact sheets from some of my existing black and white negatives.

Developing contact sheets has almost become second nature to me from working on a test strip to establishing the length of time the negatives need to be exposed under the enlarger.

Here is a contact sheet I originally developed back in July with some negatives that unfortunately had a light leak (please refer to my previous blog post about this).

The negatives were taken on my Pentax K1000 using Kodak Tmax 400 black and white film:

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On this particular contact sheet I placed the negatives over the photographic paper and placed some glass on top to keep them nice and straight. My first rookie mistake was not placing the negatives in number order and also the first row of negatives are upside down.

However, I had learnt from this mistake and was ready to do better in my current course. What was even better was my tutor introduced me to a really handy piece of darkroom photography equipment called a 35mm contact proof printer which is made by Paterson:

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The reason he had suggested I use this was because the negatives I was trying to develop into a contact sheet were really curly and it was proving impossible to get them straight under a piece of glass.

In this current course I initially wanted to develop some black and white half frame negatives I had taken on my Olympus Pen FT camera using Cinestill BWXX film.

However, after doing the test strip and then using this device, to my disappointment I found the contact sheet came out really blurry:

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After chatting to my tutor, I’d found I’d made yet another stupid mistake……I hadn’t shut the door of the contact proof printer properly, hence the blurry images.

I had to wait until the following week of my course to develop a couple more of the above contact sheets until I got the exposure I was happy with (as the first one was under exposed):

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I absolutely love the Paterson Contact Proof Printer and for me, it’s the best and quickest way of developing my black and white negatives into a contact sheet.

I developed a further contact sheet from my black and white negatives I had taken on my Pentax K1000 camera using Kosmo Foto Mono 100 film and the Paterson Contact Proof Printer:

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I’m hoping to develop another contact sheet in my lesson next week from another set of black and white negatives.

 

Half Frame Club

I’m finding from my journey into film photography this year that I’m developing a real passion for half frame photography.

In previous blogs I’ve spoken about a couple of the Olympus Half Frame Camera’s I own and the results of the photos I’ve taken with them.

Through Instagram, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only person with a love of half frame photography and it was great to see so many other people also loving half frame cameras and seeing what photo’s they’ve taken.

It was via Instagram that I stumbled upon a website called #HalfFrameClub – Half Frame Camera and Photography Club.

I’ve got to admit it was a website I wish I had invented but since I’ve only recently discovered half frame photography it was understandable that somebody would have thought of this idea first and I’m really happy to see they came up with a website dedicated to it.

It’s an online community for half frame 35mm film photography and cameras which is curated by @danmar_photos. The website ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’s a community for half frame camera enthusiasts to discover and look at photos taken by half frame cameras.

On instagram myself and other people are able to tag #halfframeclub onto our photos that were taken with a half frame 35mm camera and the curator will feature various ones on a daily basis, which is great to see. There are also themes such as ‘Monochrome Monday’.

The website itself is concise and clear and really easy to navigate. On the home page you are greeted with photos taken on half frame cameras and if you click on each photo, it will take you to a link in instagram where you can find out more about the person who took the photo and look at their other work.

This website and their instagram page certainly does provide a lot of inspiration for people who like to take photos with 35mm half frame camera’s.

The website releases a Zine every season and will ask for submissions for this from the half frame community. They’re currently looking for submissions for their Summer Zine until August 15th.

I love the fact that you can easily click onto the submission page and a theme is brought up for the type of photos they would like submitted for that particular zine issue which is great and gets the photographer to have more thought into the type of photos they would like to submit (and possibly inspire them to go out and take further photos to meet the theme).

The website also has a section for reviews of cameras and film. The curator encourages fellow members of the half frame community to contribute to this which is great.

Lastly there are links to websites for General Photography and another one specifically for Half Frame Photography and the types of Half Frame Cameras which is very informative.

Here is the link to the website which I encourage all half frame photography enthusiasts to check out:

www.halfframeclub.com

 

Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera

As a newbie to film photography this year (please see the first blog I wrote for more information on this), I’ve only recently discovered the Lomography company and the ‘toy camera’s’ they do so have been buying and trying them as you can pick some of them up quite cheaply (either never used or hardly used second hand).

I had seen photos on Flickr and Instagram that had sprocket holes on them which I think looked really cool. I knew that some of the sprocket hole effects were achieved by just scanning the whole negative but I was fascinated by how some of them had the whole picture over the sprocket hole.

Once I had discovered the Lomography company I found that they produced a camera called the Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera which has been specially developed to take pictures with the sprocket holes on them.

As with most of the Lomography camera’s they are very lightweight because they are made out of plastic.

It has a 30mm lens and produces a standard image size of 72 x 33mm (panoramic images including sprocket holes).  There is an optional frame insert that can be put into the camera that produce 72 x 24mm (”ordinary” panoramic images) but personally I think that defeats the whole object of this camera as I would want the sprocket holes to be shown.

The focusing on the camera is 0.6m to infinity which you focus on front of the lens by estimating how far you are standing away from the image you want to take since the viewfinder isn’t linked to the lens. There are 2 x shutter speeds (1/100, Bulb). There are 2 x aperture options (f/10.8, f/16). It takes 35mm film and is best suited to an ISO speed of 400. Another feature that I really love about the camera is that it has a white dot film stopping mechanism to enable you to take multiple exposures.

I initially was hoping to find a second hand one of these cameras as they retail at £69 for the black one and £79 if you wanted a different colour one. Thankfully I actually prefer the black colour.

Whilst looking for a second hand one, I found that not many of them seem to come up for sale like some of the other Lomography cameras and when I recently found a second hand used one for sale without its original box or instruction pamphlets, it ended up selling on eBay  in a bid only auction for over £50 (not including postage). I decided at that point that I’d sooner just pay the full retail price and buy a brand new one directly from the Lomography shop.

Thankfully at the time on deciding this I was actually going to London for the day for a Lomography workshop (blog to follow about this) so I was able to find some time to pop into the Lomography shop in Soho and buy one.

I was also lucky enough to buy the last few rolls the shop had of the LomoChrome Purple film as I wanted to see how this would look on the camera.

Once I took a closer look at the camera when I got it home, I discovered that it’s design was based on the vintage Dick Tracy Camera of the Seymore Products Co in Chicago circa 1947 combined with Lomography’s own design.

I loved how simple it was to load the 35mm film and the fact that it really does encourage multiple exposures as it has a simple operating system of 2 x winding knobs at each end of the camera at the top for moving the film forward and backwards. The white dot stopping mechanism window at the top of the camera enables you to see if you’ve wound on the film to the right spot so multiple exposures match on the same frame.

This camera also does the opposite of the half frame camera in the fact that if you have a 36 exposure 35mm film, you will only get 18 super-wide angle shots on this camera so this means in the long run you would use a lot more film.

On the bottom of the camera is a tripod strap screw which can be removed to enable you to place the camera on a tripod to take long exposed shots in bulb mode.

The shutter button is actually on the side of the lens rather than on the top of the camera and you have to be careful when the camera is in your bag etc not to accidentally knock the shutter button as you could take an unwanted photo!

There is a plastic lens cap included with this camera which you have to remember to move because the viewfinder is not linked to the lens so you could end up happily snapping away and find all your pictures come out black.

The aperture lever is underneath the lens and you can move it to the ‘sunny’ (f/16) or ‘cloudy’ (f/10.8) option.

My first impression of this camera is that it felt cheap and plastic and I wondered how the price could be justified for something that quite frankly didn’t feel like it had any quality to it. I also worried about it melting if I had it out on a hot sunny day!

However, from my research, I couldn’t find any quality vintage camera that could produce the same effect with the sprocket holes so I had to accept the price for what it was if I wanted to produce that type of photograph.

I’ll be completely honest, since I’ve been quite spoilt with my decent quality camera collection where I have the choice of interchangeable lenses and hard metal casing with a variety of apertures and shutter speeds to choose from, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the camera and in some ways was ‘dreading’ if I had completely wasted my money on this purchase and the photos would be rubbish as I wouldn’t be able to focus the picture how I wanted etc.

I know with lomography cameras that the photo’s aren’t about perfection as quite frankly you wouldn’t be using them if that’s the style of photo what you wanted.

I decided that for my first roll of film I shot, I would get it developed at the Lomography lab (which was around £17 for development and scanned copies only plus postage of the film recorded delivery to Lomography in London).

Here are some of the results:

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I also decided to experiment with the multiple exposure option on this camera because it was so easy to do and here are the results:

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One particular shot I wasn’t happy with was where the sprocket holes go directly across the top of my husband’s head which I didn’t like so I now know for future reference I will need to bear this in mind when taking photographs and change the angle of the shot slightly to take this into consideration:

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Overall, I was really happy with the results. I managed to produce images with this camera that I wanted to achieve and I love the colour the purple chrome film produces. I definitely love the artistic/experimental photos I can create by using this camera.

The main drawback is the cost of getting the photos developed every time which could end up being very expensive due to only having the 18 shots on the film and you would question how regularly you could afford to use it.

However, because I’m taking so many photos with different cameras right now, I’ve been able to justify purchasing my own film scanner (which I’m currently awaiting delivery of) so in the long run I will save money. Plus I get to have more control of the quality/colour/shade etc of the image that I’m scanning from the negative.

I’ve since taken some normal colour photos with this camera which I got developed at my local photo lab for £5 (and will be scanning them in myself once I receive my scanner).

In view of this, I will definitely be taking a lot more pictures using this camera and feel that the purchase for me and the use I will get out of the camera is worth every penny.

I’m going to be loading this camera with 400 ISO black and white film next as I’m really interested to see how the sprocket hole effect will look in monochrome.

UPDATE: I’ve since discovered that this camera has now sold out on the Lomography website (and they only had a couple in the shop when I bought mine) so I’m really happy I managed to get one when I did. Fingers crossed for anybody else out there looking to buy one that Lomography will hopefully get new stock of it soon.

Olympus Pen EE

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a few days off work and on one of the days we decided to have a walk around the lanes in Brighton with our dog.

I needed to pop to one of our local shops, Zoing Image in Sydney Street as I was after some Cinestill 800 film to practice some night time shots using my Pentax K1000 (blog to follow on this).

As well as the unusual film selection that Zoing Image stock, they also sell a selection of second hand cameras. Every time I visit, there are always a new selection of secondhand cameras to choose from so I love to browse.

Whilst my husband isn’t really into photography, he always takes a keen interest in any camera I buy and was extremely fascinated by my Olympus Pen FT half frame camera and the quality of images it produces.

I think this is what led him to noticing the Olympus Pen EE Camera in the cabinet for sale.

He told me he was instantly drawn to the size and grey colour of the camera. Once I explained to him it was an automatic half frame camera he wanted to have a look at it in more detail. He absolutely loved the tiny viewfinder window and the feel of it in his hands so we bought it along with some Kodak Colour Plus 200 35mm film and loaded it in the shop there and then so we could take some photos of our day around Brighton.

In some ways, this camera is similar to the Olympus Trip where a red flasher will pop up in the viewfinder if the image is too bright or dull and won’t expose correctly. This took some getting use to for my husband as he tried to take several shots where this happened.

The film number counts back from 72 to 0. The lens is a D Zuiko f/3.5 (4 element) with a focal length of 28mm.

I already knew the lens would be of good quality from my experience of using Zuiko lenses on my Olympus Pen FT.

A great edition to this camera in the shop was the fact it also came with a UV lens which screwed into the middle of the camera:

The shutter was quite small so could be hard find by feel when taking a picture:

I solved this problem when I got home by adding a metal shutter button which definitely made taking pictures easier:

The camera also came with an Olympus lens cap although I don’t think it’s the original as I think they have EE written on them.

The camera unfortunately didn’t come with the original case or wrist strap but the shop were kind enough to provide me with a small black case which was in great condition. Also I know that the original olympus cases for this camera can deteriorate over time as the plastic outer coating of the case tends to flake off. Thankfully I had a grey wrist strap at home which had originally been for my Panasonic TZ70 digital camera which I’d never used as I prefer to use a leather neck strap with that particular camera. Personally, I would never use a neck strap with the Olympus Pen EE due to it being so lightweight (12.5 ounces).

I’ve also since purchased a skylight filter for the camera which I picked up for a couple of pounds on eBay.

I was surprised how quickly my husband and I were able to get through 72 frames over two days but with a point and shoot style camera I don’t really think so much about the image since it’s automatically focused (unlike my Olympus Pen FT where I spend much more time thinking about the image I’m taking and what lens to use etc).

Here is a little selection of pictures we took:

I got the film developed at Moorfields Photographic in Liverpool as they have the half frame developing equipment which means that each image is exposed correctly rather than a compromise of exposure between two images as would occur at a normal lab with standard 35mm equipment.

Overall I was happy with the quality of the images and was what I expected from the Zuiko lens. I also liked the vintage feel of the photos. The sharpness was a little hit and miss at times since it’s automatic with only one lens type.

I will always prefer my Olympus Pen FT because of the gorgeous crispness I get with that camera along with the variety of lenses I can use for a particular shot.

However, if out and about in a rush and if I’ve only got a little handbag on me during the daytime then I would happily put this little camera in my bag and use it for the day.

It’s also handy for my husband to use when we’re out and about as he’s not so keen on all the time that can be spent perfecting a shot using a heavier SLR Camera 📷