Kodak S1100XL
Point & Shoot

Kodak S1100XL Review – Chinon 3001 in Kodak Clothing – By Thang Nguyen

December 11, 2020

This review is about the Kodak S1100XL, a Chinon 3001 with a different badge. If you are a point & shoot enthusiast, you will likely know that rebranding has been a common thing in analog compact cameras. This is usually the case with Rolleis which were often rebranded Samsungs or Leicas which were Minolta at their heart. And of course everyone’s beloved classic: the Chinon Auto 3001 is no exception to rebranding. If you didn’t know, the Chinon 3001 is a well-known camera for its excellent performance as well as being the first compact camera to employ multi-beam focusing.

The Chinon 3001’s distant relative: the Kodak S1100XL, born 2 years later yet still carried a hefty price at its release. At first glance, both look like 2 different cameras if you just judge them by their appearance. But if you take a closer look, you will notice that both of them carry an identical specs sheet and the same number of control options. It appears that Kodak liked to spend a bit more effort on rebranding a camera than Rollei and Leica whose cameras look like they were more obviously copies.

Kodak S1100XL - flash shut

The Kodak S1100XL with the flip-up flash closed. On the top right is the flash control switch can can be slide left or right, it will always go back to the middle which is auto flash once your finger is released.

All told, the Kodak S1100XL is pretty much the Chinon 3001 in a different shell. Though I have to give Kodak credit for giving their rebranded cameras a signature style for brand recognition. And that cosmetic feature is the flip-up flash, which is a staple among Kodak’s lines of camera. You can often tell a Kodak camera apart from its competitors by the iconic flip up flash alone – it’s a look that you don’t see from any other camera manufacturer.

Besides making the camera stand out, the flip-up flash does come with some advantages. The flap not only protects the lens assembly, but also acts as a handy power switch that is quick to operate. One of the biggest advantages of the flap is its ability to naturally reduce red-eyes in flash photography, since the flash is far apart from the lens. This feature is especially relevant to the Kodak S1100XL since it lacks a red-eyes reduction mode, which is also not present on the Chinon 3001. There’s one disadvantage to this flip-up design, if you’re wearing a baseball cap the flash will bump into the cap’s peak… though I suppose this could be easily resolved by turning your cap around or just loosening it up a bit…

Kodak S1100XL top

Top of the Kodak S1100XL with the LCD and control buttons.

The control options on both cameras are the same, which are limited to: fill flash, flash override, self timer, center spot focus and midroll rewind. The viewfinder on the Kodak S1100XL is big and bright with guidelines for framing. It also displays statuses such as flash charging/ ready, focus locked and a close up indicator.

Kodak S1100XL back

The back of the Kodak S1100XL.

The Kodak S1100XL has a very nice built quality to it, the buttons are responsive and the plastic is sturdy. Its size is almost the same as the Chinon 3001. I’ll skip on technical details since there’s already a 35mmc review on the Chinon Auto 3001 on this regard. Since both of the cameras have the same specs, what is said about the Chinon 3001 can be apply to the Kodak S1100XL as well.

About the lens of the Kodak S1100XL, it’s the exact same one that’s presented on the Chinon Auto 3001. It’s moderately contrasty but still preserves shadow and highlight. The lens is sharp and performs well in dim light thanks to the big aperture of f2.8. All of the images below were shot with Kodak Ultramax 400, to give you a sense of the lenses image quality.

Strong contrast scene, the exposure is a good balance between the sky and the field.

Don’t point the camera directly at the sun like I did here. Yet, the camera did an excellent job at controlling lens flare and exposing the image.

I really like how this image turned out, composition and color wise.

It was quite dark out but the combination of the f2.8 lens and the 400 iso film did a better job than I would have thought.

I thought the moon would have been more noticeable when I was composing, but it still turns out lovely.

Overall, using the Kodak S1100XL was an delightful experience. It’s a great alternative to the Chinon Auto 3001 as it’s a tad newer, less known and cheaper without any compromises. I particularly appreciate the folding flash design, it reminds me a lot of the ever popular Polaroid 600 folding cameras. This approachable design won’t scare off people. Because of that I think everyone will be happy to be photographed by this strange looking camera.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Rock
    December 11, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Nice write up and photos Thang. I thought I knew most of the Chinon clones but this one is a new one on me! Glad your using Ultramax 400 as well, very versatile film. Cheers, Rock

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      December 11, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Kodak Ultramax 400 and Gold 200 has always been my to-go film. I tried to mix in Ektar and Superia but Kodak Ultramax/ Gold can’t be beat.

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    December 11, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Hauntingly beautiful images and convincing review Thang, both cameras are now on my shopping list as a result.My son and I have used Leica models C1 and C3 also made by Chinon (C3 feature on 35mmc after Christmas), but both have since died. Shame, because results, useability and build quality superb. Thanks and best wishes.

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      December 11, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad that you enjoy this review. It’s a shame your C1 and C3 died because they are such good looking camera and fairly recently made too. I’m looking forward to read about the C3, cheers!

  • Reply
    Rock
    December 11, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    I notice that the Kodak sold for 260 USdollars on release in 1989, so it wasn’t particularly cheap back then…

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      December 11, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      It’s very pricy at release and it’s the most expensive fixed lens automatic compact camera Kodak ever released.

  • Reply
    Dan
    December 13, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    I was using this as my P&S for years before finding the Nikon L35AF. Not on the same level as a Mju II or T3-T4 but still a great camera.

    The best feature on this camera imo is that little tab on the front which you push right or left for either fill flash or flash off. I just hold it down while shooting and never second guess whether I left flash on or not.

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      December 13, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      It’s my favorite too, super fast and convenient.

  • Reply
    Mats
    December 13, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Nice! This kind of hidden gem articles is the reason I come to this site.

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