Cheaper alternatives to the Pentax 17

Cheaper alternatives to the Pentax 17

Firstly we would like to say that we think Pentax's new camera is fantastic! It is incredible that they have been able to design a completely new from the ground up. While the price point is high we believe that it is completely justified, in fact we are surprised it isn't more expensive. However, we understand that not everyone will be able to pay these prices. Therefore, we wanted to put together a list of other great options. 

All the cameras we mention will be half frame cameras, this means each shot is half that of a standard 35mm frame. While this does reduce quality, it doubles the number of photos you get from each roll of film. If you are looking to take casual photos to share on social media or even if you ware wanting 6" x 4" prints, then you do not need to worry about the quality of half frame images. 

What to avoid

First up we would like to talk about Kodak's "new" half frame camera, the Ektar H35. We don't like this camera. Its cheap, plastic and brought absolutely nothing new to the market. The lens is plastic and focus free which means the images produced will be of even lower quality. This cameras screams 'we don't care about film photographers, but we want to make money off them'. 

Now we have finished our rant, lets talk about some of the good alternatives!

Olympus Pen EE-S and EES-2

The Pen EE series is a fantastic range of half frame cameras produced by Olympus in the 1970s and 80s. The Olympus Pen EE-S and Pen EES-2 are probably the closest to the new Pentax 17. They are half frame cameras, that have a glass lens and use a similar zone focusing mechanism. The Pen EES-2 is the slightly newer model but is becoming more rare, therefore, you will need to be quick when one comes into stock! Once they have received a full service and a brand new leather finish (in many colours) both these cameras come in at under £200, which is more than half the price of the Pentax 17. 

Olympus Pen EF

One thing that the Pentax 17 has that the Olympus Pen EE-S and EES-2 are missing is a built in flash. The Olympus Pen EF was the last model in the Pen series and the only one that had a built in flash. Although this model features a fixed focus lens, it is still made of glass and produces some great results (see below). Again these cameras are getting harder to come by which is pushing up the price, but they can still be bought for less than £250.

Shot on a Olympus Pen EF using expired Kodak Portra 160

Canon Multi Tele

The Canon Mutli Tele is a very interesting camera as it has the ability to shoot in the standard 35mm frame size as well as half frame! Controlled by a small switch behind the film door it sadly cannot be changed mid roll but gives you more flexibility than any other camera on the list. It also boasts a built in flash, auto-focus, auto film advance/rewind, a self timer and more. Typically priced around £100 this is the cheapest camera on the list.

Olympus Pen F and Pen FT

If you are looking for a half frame camera that can still produce incredibly sharp images then you don't need to look any further than the Olympus Pen F and FT. These were half frame SLRs with interchangeable lenses. Being half frame meant that they could be incredibly small, its not often you find an SLR that can fit in your pocket! These aren't a camera we often get in stock but they are available elsewhere for between £200 to £400.

An Olympus Pen F fitted with a brand new leather finish

Other honorable mentions include the Yashica Samurai, Canon Demi, Olympus Pen EE-2 and EE-3. All of which can be purchased for less than £200 and make excellent cameras for anyone wanting to start their half frame film photography journey!

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