Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera - cover photo

Twenty years ago, no one could have possibly foreseen that a camera like the Kodak Ektar H35 would be released in this day and age, let alone that it would sell well.

After all, the Kodak Ektar H35 and other half frame cameras like it weren’t designed as a result of technological progress. They were created to provide an economical solution to the rising prices of a photographical medium that many predicted would die decades ago.

Affiliate disclosure: The camera we are using in this review was sent to us for to test for free. This has not, in any way, influenced our decisions or judgements on this camera and all of the opinions expressed in this review are our own. While our affiliate links do help us out, the content of our reviews are never influenced or skewed by any desire to generate income.

In this article, we review the Kodak Ektar H35 using the film stock from which it got its name, Kodak Ektar 100. We weigh up its pros and cons, explaining why some will opt to make this their daily carry for casual film photography, while others are more likely to stick to regular 35mm film cameras. To do this, we will also pit the Kodak Ektar H35 against a regular 35mm film camera, keeping all controllable variables constant to ensure the comparison is as fair as we can make it.

But first, let’s take a look at the Kodak Ektar H35 in a little more detail.

 

What is the Kodak Ektar H35?

Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera front

The Kodak Ektar H35 is a half frame film camera that is designed to fit twice as many frames on a single roll of film than would be possible with a traditional 35mm film camera, meaning that it is able to fit 48 individual images on a 24-exposure roll of film, or 72 frames on a 36-exposure roll.

It does so by placing two tiny portrait frames into the space that a regular 35mm film camera would cover with a single landscape frame. This means that one has to counterintuitively hold the camera vertically to shoot a landscape image, and vice versa.

While this may initially take some getting used to, the immediately noticeable differences of shooting a half frame camera over a regular 35mm film camera end there. That is, besides the fact that your roll of film will now last twice as long.

 

Build quality

 

When using the Kodak Ektar H35, it feels and operates much like a disposable film camera. Everything from its feather-light weight of only 100g (or 3.5 ounces) to the spoked advance dial, as well as the light click of the shutter firing – it’s all reminiscent of a disposable film camera.

Kodak Ektar H35 rear view
Kodak Ektar H35 top view

Given its negligible weight and plastic construction, the Kodak Ektar H35 can feel a bit flimsy at times, but honestly this is an easy pill to swallow when you consider the benefits of its light weight and portability. It’s easy to throw in a bag and forget about it until you find an opportunity to use it, which can’t exactly be said for a decidedly less flimsy camera like the Nikonos V, which feels much more similar to lugging an actual brick around.

 

Design

 

The Kodak Ektar H35’s aesthetically pleasing retro design is a clear call back to the Kodak Instamatic, which they released all the way back in the early 1960s. The H35 features a leather-like front panel that covers the bottom ¾ of the front of the camera, underneath a horizontal panel on which the viewfinder and flash can be found.

Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera - tilt

The Ektar H35 also features a 22mm f/9.5 lens which is surrounded a ring that can be turned to enable the flash. And with a fixed aperture of f/9.5, as well as a fixed shutter speed of 1/100, you can expect to use this flash quite often.

 

Comparing the Kodak Ektar H35 to a full exposure 35mm film camera

 

Now, let’s see how half frame cameras stack up against their less film-efficient 35mm counterparts. To do this, I took the Kodak Ektar H35 and my trusty Nikonos V on a day out in Dorset on the south coast of England.

I tried to keep all controllable variables constant to ensure that the differences in results can be attributed largely to the cameras themselves rather than to any external factors. I used in-date rolls of, you guessed it, Kodak Ektar 100 in both cameras. Both rolls were stored in the same conditions, shot on the same day and they were developed and scanned in the same lab.

Let’s take a look at some of the results side by side.

Kodak Ektar H35 using Ektar 100

Kodak Ektar H35 - pic 1
Kodak Ektar H35 - pic 2
Kodak Ektar H35 - pic 3

Nikonos V using Ektar 100

Nikonos V - pic 1
Nikonos V - pic 2
Nikonos V - pic 3

As you can see, the Nikonos V produces sharper and more detailed images with less noise than the Kodak Ektar H35, though the latter’s images are still fairly sharp in their own right. The Kodak Ektar H35 also struggles with achieving the desired exposure and contrast at times and, as can be seen in the second and third images, it isn’t able to get the same amount of detail from parts of the image such as the grass at the bottom.

This gap in sharpness and overall quality is, of course, to be expected given that the Nikonos V was created as a higher-end camera that utilises a much larger area on the roll of film with each shot.

With that said, however, the Kodak Ektar H35 performs admirably given its limitations. Such limitations may even draw some film photographers to this camera as it produces the imperfect yet characterful aesthetic that draws many to film photography in the first place.

 

The only real gripe I have with the Kodak Ektar H35, and this is largely down to my incompetence in using it, is how easy it is for your fingers to crest into the side of the frame. Being a tiny camera, this is something I honestly should’ve expected, but since my fingers were completely clear of the view from the viewfinder, I didn’t find out about this until it was too late.

Kodak Ektar H35 - pic 4
Nikonos V - pic 4

Pros and cons of shooting with the Kodak Ektar H35

Pros

    Highly economical

    Lightweight and portable

    Pleasing retro aesthetic

    Quiet and discreet, so perfect for street photography

    Images are imperfect yet full of character, reminiscent of older entry level film cameras

      Cons

       

      Images are not suitable for larger printing

      Correctly exposed images cannot be guaranteed

      Shots can lack contrast

      Easy to get fingers stuck in shot given how small the camera is

      Fixed shutter speed of 1/100 can be quite limiting as it won’t capture fast moving subject well

      Who is the Kodak Ektar H35 for?

       

      The Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera, and other half frame film cameras like it, are for the casual photographers that wants to start or continue shooting film without breaking the bank. It’s fun and very easy to use, making it perfect for those just getting into film photography or those who like to shoot without needing to pay attention to too much besides composition.

      Those that are happy to sacrifice some image quality and predictability over the quality of their images will love the Kodak Ektar H35 and other half frame cameras like it. It won’t produce perfect results with every shot, though with twice as many frames to play with, this is hardly the end of the world.

      If you’re someone who wants sharp and reliable results with every shot, however, you’re best to stick to traditional 35mm or medium format film cameras which have manual controls that can be adjusted with precision. These offer the greatest level of creative control, and they are much more reliable in the results they deliver.

      If you fall under this category, however, your mind will likely have been made up before you even reached this part of the article.

      Lulworth Cove on Kodak Ektar H35
      Lulworth cove on Kodak Ektar H35

      Personally, I think the Kodak Ektar H35 is a lot of fun to use, and it’s the perfect camera to carry around with you on days on which you want to focus less on photography itself and more on the moments you want to capture. On a casual day out with friends, I wouldn’t think twice about taking the Kodak Ektar H35 as it makes all the decisions for you and you can even afford to be a bit trigger happy.

      For shots that I need to get just right, however, I’m much more likely to pull out a camera that offers a bit more control and predictability in terms of results.

       

      Where to buy the Kodak Ektar H35

       

      As we mentioned earlier, this post does contain affiliate links so if you have enjoyed this comparison and would like to give the Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera or the Kodak Ektar 100 film stock a go, why not use our affiliate link for the Kodak Ektar H35? It won’t cost you anything and it helps us out massively, enabling us to create even more content going forward.

      Durdle door on Kodak Ektar H35

      Wrap up

       

      So there we have it, our review and comparison of the Kodak Ektar H35 half frame camera. For anyone looking for an easy to use camera that isn’t too fussed about every shot being perfect or getting the maximum amount of detail out of every frame, this is a really fun-to-use little camera. And if I haven’t convinced you here, why not take a look at some more photos taken with this camera that have been posted on Lomography?

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