5 frames with...

5 Frames With a Hanimex 35FX – By Richard Williams

When I got into shooting film again last year, a heady combination of GAS and a wife addicted to charity shops meant that I tried out quite a lot of different cameras in a short period of time. What I concluded was that I love shooting with an SLR, but very much less so with cheaper, plastic cameras. I certainly couldn’t see what the whole toy camera/Lomography thing was about.

So when my wife returned from a car boot sale with what has come to be referred to as the “Hanimex Thing” I was distinctly underwhelmed. My initial thoughts were to get the monstrosity on eBay and forget all about it.

But then a funny thing happened. For some weird reason, it began to grow on me.

It is very definitely a cheap plastic thing, but actually feels large and quite solid in the hand. It’s laughably easy to use, has a blindingly bright flash and, although it lacks any sort of class or refinement, is more 1980s than Knight Rider, The A-Team and Airwolf combined.

I don’t know what possessed me but I decided to shoot a roll though the Hanimex Thing before selling it on. There was a part-shot roll already inside and somehow I managed to snap the rewind handle off when winding back the film. Nevertheless, I stuck in a new roll of Agfa Vista 200 and took it on a family trip to Bradgate Park.

I had very low hopes, but actually really like the resulting shots. The camera definitely lacks the nice tactile shooting experience that I get from a higher quality unit, but those lo-fi, old-school looking pictures have genuinely won me over. Although they were shot only a couple of months ago, they could be straight out of one of our old family albums. The plastic lens lacks any sort of sharpness (and only just focuses) but that’s not the point of a camera like this is it?

So has the toy camera bug bitten? Probably not. But I think this one’s a keeper, at least for a little while. And then again, perhaps someone also made a more compact version…

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10 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    September 27, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    You’re right, the shots look like they’re from the 1980’s. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out at car boot sales and charity shops. My wife and I have picked up a few bargains that way, SLRs included!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Wayne
    September 27, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    If I can think of one thing, favorable, about the mash rush to digital photography…….it has caused me to look again at most all film photographs. In the 80s I would have been fairly underwhelmed, but now, I see a bit of magic in just about everything film. Nice shots.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Richard Williams
      September 28, 2018 at 8:40 am

      It’s quite a nostalgic look for those of us over a certain age isn’t it?

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    Reply
    ScottP
    September 28, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Your pictures are quite nice. What is the monument with the “holy ground” plaque?
    Historical note: when I worked in a camera store 40 years ago, the staff, all gear snobs who owned Leicas and Nikons and such, looked down their noses at Hanimex and referred to the brand as Hamineggs.
    Didn’t think much of Sigma either, which at the time was a third or fourth ranked builder of cheap interchangeable lenses.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Richard Williams
      September 28, 2018 at 8:39 am

      It’s the war memorial at the top of Old John (a hill) in Bradgate Park, Leicester. Yeah it’s definitely not a high quality camera at all!

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    Reply
    George Appletree
    September 28, 2018 at 6:21 am

    the whole toy camera/Lomography thing was about.…
    selling, so they make their business and some say wow, such saturated colors etc
    Much better a Hanimex 35 FX

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Richard Williams
      September 28, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Yeah “lomography” is all about the brand for sure. I think that what they have contributed to the revival in film is undeniable though, so can’t argue with that. For me though, a lot of what I love about film photography is the well-engineered mechanical nature of older cameras. My preference is for an SLR. I certainly don’t get the same tactile experience when shooting with the Hanimex! But it’s opened my eyes to something else – to the fact that lovely pictures can be made with a simple camera that doesn’t get in the way. And also to a kind of photography where the sharpest possible focus and most saturated colours are all that matter.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    George Appletree
    September 28, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    They contributed to the lomo/photo confusion: something like Holgas=Oldgas, what means better buy an old camera than a plastic lomo

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dan James
    September 28, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Definitely a very old school and vintage look Richard, looks exactly like photos from my childhood! Love the one of the girl in the yellow cardigan, and the fact it’s out of focus seems to add further to the charm and timelessness.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Richard Williams
      September 28, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Dan. Thanks I really like that picture. Its my eldest daughter and despite the fact that it’s “technically” a dreadful photo (soft and out of focus etc.) its one of my favourite pictures of her. I have no clue what range the Hanimex Thing focuses at to be honest. Presumably the aperture is narrow enough that depth of field is reasonable, but it must be a minimum of 5 or six feet away.

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