Carena Mini Zoom 115s
Point & Shoot

Carena Mini Zoom 115s Review – Least Probable Favorite Camera of all time – By Gandhi Cabañas

April 25, 2020

Well, maybe I am overstating when I say that this rather ugly and unimportant Carena Mini Zoom 115s is my favorite of all time, but it certainly has a special place in my memory, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

The one pictured in this article is the second copy that I’ve owned. I bought it out of nostalgia on eBay for the price of a cup of coffee plus shipping. The first Carena Mini Zoom 115s that I had has a little bit more of an interesting story. I found it with its original soft-case in the trashcan of the neighbors of my parents-in-law in a small town called Wannweil in Germany.

A couple of years later I left the camera in a baseball stadium in Cancun, Mexico and I did not realize it until I was back in the hotel. It went away as easy as it came, and my heart was broken. This was my only compact film camera at that time. It was with my companion through my first years living abroad, my master’s degree, a lot of parties, a few trips and a couple of friends who came and went away.

The Carena Mini Zoom 115s Camera

Technically there is not much good to say about this Carena. It has a 38-115mm zoom lens and a lot of unnecessary modes and functions that I have never used. It works with not one but two expensive CR123 A lithium batteries. For me its most interesting features are the multiple exposures, the Bulb and the “Panorama” (it only puts a mask that covers above and below the frame) modes, and the option to turn off the automatic flash. I also think that the lens is fairly sharp for a point & shoot camera from the nineties.

Other than that, the Carena Mini Zoom 115s is rather average. A little bulky but not too big and also not so light, but not too heavy.

The Memories

I was not that much into film photography at that time. I had a couple of film SLRs and a couple of rangefinders that I did not use too much. For my travel photography and for parties I almost always used my Canon DSLR but, as you may know, sometimes is not very practical to carry such a camera around for those purposes. That is when the Carena took its place as my all-around camera. I am glad to have had it with me and I think I would regret a lot if all those moments were lost because of me not carrying a camera at all. And, you know, cellphone pictures are just not the same thing.

The Pictures

The following color photos were made with either AGFA Vista Plus 200 (now discontinued) or Kodak Gold 200. And the BW photos with AGFA APX 400.

Cholula, Mexico.

New Year’s Eve 2017.

My father in his workshop.

Summer roses.

Bavarian boys.

Harderwijk, Holland.

Gabriel, New Year’s Eve 2017.

Lago di Garda, Italy.

Regensburg, Germany.

Passau, Germany. (Panorama mode)

Hungarian Parliament, Budapest. (Panorama mode)

Guille and Sarah.

Passau, Germany.

Passau, Germany.

Holbox, Mexico.

My father’s livingroom.

I can almost say that having lost the Carena Mini Zoom 115s created a void, which was one of the reasons that triggered my obsession with collecting film cameras.

More photos:

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  • Reply
    Oliver Thomas Lison
    April 25, 2020 at 10:09 am

    I have just bought the same camera. There were so many brands that sold the same camera. This Carena mini zoom 115s is the same as the Samdung Slim Zoom 1150 and it varients. The same was also sold under the Voigtlander brand. I bought it because my father had one. It brings me back some sentimental value even if it is not the original he had.

    • Reply
      Gandhi Cabanas
      April 25, 2020 at 10:45 am

      I get you, some cameras just have that sentimental value that make them special. Even if they are not the best or the most beautiful. I think I have seen this one also with the Rollei badge, but I am not sure if it is exactly the same camera.

    • Reply
      Ross Attix
      April 25, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      It would be much better looking if it said Leica;-)

      These were a great way to start my day. I like the sense of whimsy. Very nice.

      • Reply
        Gandhi Cabanas
        April 25, 2020 at 6:42 pm

        You are right, sometimes we pay a lot of attention to the brand and forget that there are many hidden, no-name jewels out there. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply
    Robert E Smith
    April 25, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Looks very much like a re-branded Samsung.

    I Own a Samsung, and have a love/hate relationship with it.

    • Reply
      Gandhi Cabanas
      April 25, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Samsung is not a name usually associated with photography, but I am sure they are perfectly capable machines.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I think the results are far above average for a compact

    • Reply
      Gandhi Cabanas
      April 25, 2020 at 6:43 pm

      I am very happy with the quality of the pictures aswell. Thanks!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2020 at 1:07 am

    Aha no wonder I was getting a Samsung vibe off this camera and your photos then. I have an older version of the Samsung badged model of this and it is top notch,but heavier than many SLRs so I am keeping an eye out for one of the later versions.

    • Reply
      Gandhi Cabanas
      April 26, 2020 at 9:38 am

      I have also seen early point and shoot Carenas that are really bulky und heavy. I did not really knew that they were originally made by Samsung.

  • Reply
    Michael Jardine
    April 28, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    They’re lovely photos, and Augustiner Helles is a very fine beer! I think we all need a little voice on our shoulders telling us to stop worrying about gear for the sake of it, and use our eyes and non-kit-specific skills with DOF and so on. I like the fact that you describe the camera as the touchstone for the experiences… if I’ve understood that right.

    • Reply
      Gandhi Cabanas
      April 29, 2020 at 6:30 pm

      That´s right, it is the best german beer! Yes, you understood what I was tryingto say. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply
    June 7, 2020 at 12:04 am

    Great post! And yes deffo it started out in life at a Samsung factory! They’re most famous for a slew of Rollei’s (Samsung owned Rollei for a while), and have to say Samsung lenses in the mid/upper range models are pretty darned fine – There’s lovely, slightly warm rendition of colour in many models, and a delicacy in the detail it captures.
    Funnily enough received a Voigtlander Vitessa today and I’m 99.99% certain it’s also a Samsung, albeit it looks like one of their low/mid range models.

  • Reply
    Evie Haze
    May 21, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Hi, I just bought this camera at a thrift shop and really try to find out some functions. Can you maybe help me with the different features, for example did you find a manual or anything explaining which feature is best to use?

    Hope you can help!

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