Halina AF810 Review – a Bloody Awful Camera

By Hamish Gill

I had high hopes for the Halina AF810 – the photos from the recently published post from Miriam showing a few results from a Halina AF700 made me think this thing might churn out a decent photo… Unfortunately, not only does it not take an good photo, but making it take fairly bad one was faff beyond any reason!

I’m not usually a superficial kinda guy, but I was first attracted to this camera because it’s red. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t pay a lot of money for a red camera, but for a point & shoot for a few quid, I was sold. It looks about as 1980’s as any single piece of industrial design could possibly look, and being honest I was attracted to it for that reason too.

Unfortunately Halina didn’t and don’t exactly have a great reputation for high quality cameras. Quite the opposite. Not only are the cameras known pretty low standards of build quality, but they were also pretty cheap. But, who’s to say cheap can’t be good? Well cheap can be good, unfortunately this particular chunk of cheap – as much as I hoped it would be good – is not very good at all!

The Potential Halina AF810

Aside from its 1980’s red exterior, this camera did give me some higher hopes that it might turn out to be quite a fun little point & shoot to take photos with. After I put a pair of new AA batteries in it, and it whirred noisily to life, I discovered two interesting features of its incredibly low cost design.

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No Auto Flash

I guess that removing the mechanism to automatically pop up the flash helped kept costs the down. Of course not having this feature also removes the feature that so often and readily bothers the modern point & shoot photographer – default auto flash. This camera has no auto flash, it just has a manual flash-on switch. When it’s switched off, and the camera thinks it needs to flash, a little fairly innocuous light by your eye glows a at you a bit. This is perfect for me, as really that just becomes an underexposure warning light that I can completely ignore if I see fit.

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Exposure

Along side the lack of auto flash it also doesn’t have any slow shutter speeds. If the flash doesn’t fire it doesn’t automatically use some motion blur inducing slow shutter speed like most point and shoot cameras do, it just uses its slowest speed which is I guess is around 1/50th.

What this means is that with normal speed film in you can shoot it as a normal daytime happy-snap-camera. But put 3200 ISO film into it and it’s 1/50 shutter combines with its f/3.8 shutter and the film speed to make quite a nice flash free AF snapper in low light – or at least that’s the theory. (If you aren’t sure how this translates in the real world have a read of this post about how I shot like this with an Olympus AF-10 Super).

Falling at the first hurdle

Theory be damned, as I was never going to get a chance to test it in practice! 5 shots in to the first roll of Fuji 400 film the damn thing jammed. Half way through winding the film from one frame to the next, it got sort of stuck and just made a constant whirring noise whenever the lens cover was open. I eventually twigged that it might be the batteries, so out came the old set and in went a fresh set. It still made the whirring sound, just now it was higher pitched.

I figured it was jammed, so under the cover of darkness (in the cupboard under the stairs), I opened the back of the camera. I couldn’t see what was going on inside, so just pushed the film around a bit and closed the back. Sure enough, this seemed to fix it. Over the course of the roll this happened a few more times. One roll of film saw me get though about 8 batteries.v

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The results

To say the tidily a I got were varied would be an understatement. Most of the shots have some red light leak. Some worse than others, though I imagine some of this might be down to how lackadaisical I became when dealing with the jam.

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At one stage I think it must have got to the end of the roll rewound a bit and shot a few of the frames twice as I seem to have got a fair few double exposures toward the end of the roll.

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There are also a couple of frames that look like the shutter just got jammed open.

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I have no idea. What a mess! Even the shots that came out ok aren’t very sharp…

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To conclude

I posted a picture on Facebook of this camera just after it got jammed the first time. Off the back of that post I had a little chat with someone about the days when he used to work in camera retail. Long story short, he told me he used to sell these when they were new. They had problems with getting jammed then too. Dominik (who’s contributed to the site a few times) asked me why I bother with these crap cameras like this one. My answer was that they can be fun, especially when they don’t have auto flash modes or slow shutters like this one. Once in a while the potential in a camera like this comes good. Case in point the Halina AF700 for Miriam. Unfortunately on this occasion he was right to call in to question the energy I was spending on this camera… As really, I shouldn’t have bothered with the Halina AF810!

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About The Author

By Hamish Gill
I started taking photos at the age of 9. Since then I've taken photos for a hobby, sold cameras for a living, and for a little more than decade I've been a professional photographer and, of course, weekly contributor to 35mmc.
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Comments

Miranda A-X - Attack of the Clone - Guest Review by Ken Hindle-May - 35mmc on Halina AF810 Review – a Bloody Awful Camera

Comment posted: 09/07/2016

[…] myself to never knowing what camera Dixons had rebadged, but then Hamish posted a picture of the Halina AF810 on Instagram and I realised the A-X’s chassis was identical. Mystery solved – Halina […]
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Blinx on Halina AF810 Review – a Bloody Awful Camera

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

It's not uncommon to find old compact cameras give out soon after you put a film in. They've been sitting in a drawer for thirty years and the shock kills them! I've had a few lock up in the way you describe, most recently a Konica that seized after three films.
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

I have a Pentax Espio 120 that's just failed after 14 shots - A shame, it was mint, and had great potential

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Ken Hindle-May replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Yeah, I think sometimes we expect a bit too much. Especially if we don't know how the camera has been stored or treated for all of that time. I thought I'd stumbled across a charity shop gem with my Yashica T2 but after I shot an initial test roll, something went wrong and now all it does is rewind any film you try to put in it. I lost two rolls of HP5 before I gave up on it!

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

What have you done with it?

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Ken Hindle-May replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Nothing as of yet. If a fresh battery doesn't fix it (and I'm sceptical - the lens cover seems to be stuck open as well) then I might see about doing a Lost Lens Cap conversion like you did with the T4, as I can get a cheap Chinese Leica-M to Fuji-X adapter on eBay.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

That is just what I was going to suggest! :)

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Alan Duncan on Halina AF810 Review – a Bloody Awful Camera

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Hamish your post raised a couple of thoughts for me. The obvious one is you sound like the camera was pretty munted - I've blogged before about the problem we all gave reviewing cameras based on using one 20 year old beast (my love hate relationship with the XA2 stems from having a duff one). I appreciate the AF810 seems prone to the jamming issue and is probably one to avoid but looking at the non mecbanically failed shots - your results seem what I'd expect. The camera was a bargain basement AF of its day intended for joe public's hols snaps on a cheap as chips basis. In those outdoor shots the exposure looks okay and the image would probably have been acceptable for 5x4 holiday prints. Haking optically were never going to measure up to basic models from the big japaneses marquees like the Canon sure shots (even their autoboy fixed focal length AF are a bit soft). We often end up using our comparison for compact AF with the likes of now classics like the mju/stylus epic which was not only in a complete other league but in a completely different sport. That said the camera does sound buyer beware due to the jamming issue. I'm no fan of these cheaper fixed length late 80s-90's AF and fine most of them mediocre at the best of times
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Great use of the word munted ;) I am probably being a little hard on the lens quality - I suppose this comes from the camera being munted, but also from the disappointment that it wasn't apparently up there with Miriam's 700. I do think you may be a touch more forgiving of these cheap cameras than me too ;)

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Alan Duncan replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Probably fair enough Hamish - the camera is soft with some optical non radial distortion issues off centre a common issue with Halina (Miriam's AF700 shots suffer too but they're less obvious with her subject matter) and it seems to have a degree of pincushion radial distortion too. And no the camera is not in the same league as the Canon sure shot AF-7 which I note you have an excellent review of, but then again it never was going to be (Halina have made some okay cameras - the MW35E is an underrated if flawed classic IMHO, but usually mediocre or technically poor) Munted is a great term which you can blame my NZ expat brother for.

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Chris Routledge replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Blimey. I thought the one I had in the 1980s was bad. Not sure it was the exact same model, but it took pictures just like those.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Not still shooting it then? ;)

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Chris Routledge replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

If I knew where it was, I'd probably give it a go to be honest.

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Chris Routledge replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

I'd be delighted to take a fiver from you, but it is probably landfill by now. Let us be thankful.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 25/06/2016

Find it, shoot a roll, if it doesn't jam I will personally give you a crisp £5 note! ;)

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