5 frames with...

5 frames with a Canon Demi 28 – By Steve Karsten

September 15, 2019

On a wing and an ebay-prayer I scored a near-mint version of this lovely little half frame camera from mid 60’s Japan, and about a month later it arrived on my doorstep in Michigan. The world is sometimes a lovely place, indeed.

First take on this camera: it might be the most pocketable camera I own besides my Olympus XA2 (fully aware of the format differences, my trolls, which is even more of a testament to the masterpiece that is the XA2) as the lens is nearly flush with the camera body. It comes with a nicely designed thumb advance, a viewfinder directly in line with the lens, a needle-match light meter, and the controls for the camera settings all located in circular fashion around the lens. The controls can be a little strange (or as Hamish says: fiddly) at first, but things become pretty clear after some tinkering, and even clearer once you learn how to set the iso (hint: turn harder on the control ring than you might be initially comfortable with).

The shutter has a quick metallic ring and is quite satisfying to my ear. The lens is as sharp as you’d expect and performs marvelously. It is a Canon SH 28mm f2.8 (5 elements in 3 groups). Beauty.

Like one would imagine, I loaded it up with some extremely expired (2001) but appropriately stored Fuji Velvia 50. 72 shots to burn and Spring had just begun. So I cruised around West Michigan in all of it’s spring glory looking for shots.

Shooting half frame is a fun excercise in inspiration and whimsy which I normally blend with the simple idea of trying to get cool juxtapositions in the side by side frames.

The film had definitely experienced a shift in color which  I’m quite happy about.

If you aren’t having fun then why are you doing it?

Cheers to you, my fellow camera nerds! If you got this far: thanks for the read.

– Steve Karsten

ig: @stevekars @analoghoopdreams

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexander Seidler
    September 15, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Nice double frames !

    • Reply
      stevekars
      September 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      Thank you Alex!

  • Reply
    Sergio Palazzi
    September 16, 2019 at 12:47 am

    What a lovely and good looking toy! It’s waiting for fresh film: using a very fine grain one I think you’ll be really satisfied.

    And thank you, as you pushed me to finally clean the shutter of my own Demi, stuck for more than one year. It was harder than last time – probably some old grease had moved somewhere. Now I can’t wait to load it and try if it’s all right.

    Btw, mine is an S model, with 30mm/1.7; meter is not reliable – is your properly working?
    Had really printable shots with FP4+ and TMax100.

    • Reply
      stevekars
      September 21, 2019 at 9:45 pm

      Dust that camera off and get shooting! Ha, I am glad I inspired you to get yours back in working order. The metering system in my camera actually does work. I mainly relied on sunny 16, but on the camera metered shots everything seemed to be in proper working order.

      I also have the f 1.7 version, both cameras are really cool, but this one is the more slim bodied of the 2.

    • Reply
      Jeff Archibald
      September 22, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      Sergio–any instruction or encouragement about how to unstick the shutter? My demi also stuck a couple of years ago, and I’ve missed it. It’s a fun little camera.

      • Reply
        Sergio Palazzi
        November 7, 2019 at 1:16 am

        Sorry Jeff, I see only today your post. As the lens groups are badly accessible fom the back, the best way is to open it from the outer side. The cover black mask and the outer lenses are very easy to unscrew. Then, drops of solvent trying to carefully absorb them, so also part of the grease is removed and not only spread around. The two frontal sheets of the shutter are of course very delicate. I find that lighter fuel can do the job on very dirty parts, but in this case I prefer chemical grade, refined light hydrocarbons, so you’re not adding further residues in evaporation. Somewhere you can find them as commercial products, otherwise from specialized dealers. Avoid any other kind of solvents, alcoholics, ketones etc!!!
        In the meanwhile I did many many many shots with my healed Demi…!

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