I really like beta testing cameras and lenses. Obviously I do this for my own lenses, but I’ve also beta tested the likes of Pixii which was a real treat for a rangefinder fan I can tell you. More recently I have also been involved in the beta testing of the Alfie Tych. First time round it was less beta testing and more just playing with an early prototype – you can read my thoughts here – but a few months ago Dave from Alfie Cameras sent me a near production ready Tych for a final round of snagging.
My job – or at least the job I gave myself – was to carry the camera around with me as much as possible. Yes, I planned to take photos with it, but the real job as I saw it was to treat the camera like crap for a few weeks. Ok, treat it like crap is perhaps a bit strong… what I did do was chuck it in the bottom of my bag, carry it in my coat pocket, leave it in the car glove box to rattle around a bit, put it in shopping bag then load a load of groceries on top of it, and – perhaps most importantly – put it in my coat pocket and absentmindedly fiddled with it to see what might fall off. I also took a few photos with it. Specifically with the posh 33mm f/8 lens what wasn’t available to me when I tested the earlier prototype.
So what did I find? Well, not a lot. In fact, all that happened really was the CE label wore off a little on the bottom and, when fiddling with it in my pocket, I managed to work the posh lens loose slightly by twisting the lens hood back a forth too much. I reported these “issues” to Dave and he solved them for the final release version of the camera. I also found the new posh lens to be particularly impressive. Knowing it was designed by Jason Lane, this doesn’t really come as any sort of surprise to me. But it’s nice to see the results.
Of course, some “issues” remain that are inherent in the design ethos. For example – as I talked about in my previous article about this camera – the film advance isn’t locked/unlocked by the action of the shutter button. The negative side of that is that it means you can accidentally take double exposures if you forget to advance the film. The positive side is, of course, that you can take multiple exposures. In fact, I found this out when I dumped it in a bag of shopping. Here you can see 72 frames of the inside of my shopping bag when I left the camera on and something sat on top of the shutter button.
It’s also worth remembering that the lens is f/8…
Really though, aside from – or perhaps even because of some of the eccentricities – the Alfie Tych really is a work of genius! Especially considering this is his first attempt at a production camera! It looks brilliant, even more so in black than in the silver of the camera I tried before. It’s tiny – it certainly lives up to the Tych name (it’s pronounced tich, which means “small thing” in colloquial English in case you weren’t sure). It also feels great in the hand too – the build quality is superb, and actually really quite surprisingly good for a smaller production run product made in the UK. Overall, I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by what Dave at Alfie cameras has produced. I’m just looking forward to reading some final production camera reviews and seeing what some of the more creative people in the community do with this camera now.
Since drafting this, the Alfie Tych has been delivered to all but a few of the Kickstarter backers. You can also preorder a camera for yourself off the website here. If you enjoy half frame cameras and/or cameras that offer a lot of interesting creative opportunities, I’d definitely consider picking one up!
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