Point & Shoot

PF Micro 110 – High-Tech 110 Camera and some Fresh Film – By Jordi Fradera

October 28, 2020

I must admit that the main photo and the title of the article are a little joke. The PF Micro 110 camera is near the simplest thing ever invented and the 3M-110 film cassette expired in 1987. I will explain how this adventure has developed.

In a street market in Barcelona I found a lot of cameras on a table, some of them new and others in a state of junk. I was struck by a 110 format camera in its original box, but I did not want to buy it. A week later we returned to the market and my wife bought it for 3 Euros (the vendor asked for 5) to encourage me to write this article.

The camera could not be simpler, f/11  & 1/100s and with the film chassis exposed – it protrudes from the side of the camera when loaded. Unfortunately I have no photos of the camera with the film chassis sticking out.

The camera can be found on the internet under the PF Micro 110 brand and other brands for about 6 Euros plus shipping, there are even review articles.

The Film

To use the camera I would have to buy a 110 format film which is not easy to find and which would cost me three times as much as the camera. Then I remembered the article I did about a Halina 110 camera that was included in a car accident kit with a 110 format film (3M – 100ASA). The problem was that the film had expired in 1987 and had been unsealed in 2014. I closed my eyes and just said COME ON JORDI!!!

I chose a sunny day in Plaza Catalunya in Barcelona and took the twelve photos (the first two on the ground) varying the subject as much as possible, I did not see it possible to photograph in cloudy weather, shade or indoors. I had many doubts and few hopes.

Developing a disaster

I took the film to the photography store “JOMA” in Barcelona and the owner, who personally takes care of the artisanal development, gave me little hope. The next day I received the result by Wetransfer. The shock was enormous, you can see the result: darkness, deep magenta tone, spots of all sizes and great noise. I was about to give up and possibly buy a fresh reel and start over.

To make matters worse, the viewfinder, which was a simple plastic frame, tricked me several times and I took the photo without the subject appearing.

I did not want to abandon the adventure and tried to edit the crap.

Normally I use the Corel Photo-Paint X6 editing program, which is very intuitive and complete. After some tests I saw that with the “Image adjustment laboratory -> Automatic adjustment”  tool a single click was enough to obtain an acceptable result. A little denoising and a little less magenta in the red channel still improved the result.

I saw that in all the photos there was a watermark in the shape of a large number, this surprised me and I could not imagine its origin. It could not be the lens of the camera because they were different in each photo and I doubted that they were factory watermarks.

When separating the RGB channels, the watermark only appeared in G and B channels, while it was less in R channel. I discussed it with my son Jordi who is foreign to photography and he suggested a solution that I accept as correct (unless someone suggests another). It was an imprint of the numbers on the backing paper of the film that over time would have been transferred to the gelatin / celluloid in color composed of G and B and less in R.

Conclusion

To my surprise, a simple camera coupled with very expired film has worked and I am very satisfied. I know some will say that the effort was not worth it, but I think the adventure was not without emotion and I’m happy because I had fun.

Thanks for reading my article – you can find my other posts on 35mmc here

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Dana Brigham
    October 28, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for trying that out — I’m always amazed at how relatively easy it is to record an image with the simplest (and most expired) of components — analog! I have shot expired 120 film and often the inked markings/numbers from the backing paper show up on the negatives — it’s just part of the experience!

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    October 28, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Well done!
    The appearance of 6 6 6 across one of the negatives might have put some people off, but in truth it would actually have been 9 9 9 from the orientation of the negative…
    It is a shame that 110 is not more available – Canon did a very nice f2.0 110 camera with a rangefinder and Minox also did an f/2.8, again with a rangefinder.

    • Reply
      John Furlong
      October 28, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      …not to mention the Minolta Zoom SLRs Mk.1 and Mk2 and the Pentax 110 SLR with a host of interchangeable lenses and a motor drive…
      Those were the days!

  • Reply
    John Furlong
    October 28, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Hanimex 110 Micro is another variant – same body only the name has been changed.
    Mine has a nasty habit of jamming the film…

  • Reply
    Neal A Wellons
    October 28, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    I really enjoyed finding about the camera and seeing how you salvaged the color tint “disaster.” That was great work and a learning experience for me.

    I just bought me one of those cameras a few minutes ago but since I collect promotional (advertising) cameras, I got a Stren “Tackle Box” camera which comes in yellow. It obviously is made by the same company. I like plastic advertising cameras with logos and host a group on Flickr.

    I use a Pentax auto 110 a good bit as well as plastic cameras and have not had much trouble finding 110 film. The Film Photography Project usually has a brand or two in B&W and color. It is not unusual for them to run out of 110 film but it always reappears after a reasonable time. I’m not sure how hard it is to buy overseas from them but the main 110 brand is Lomo which should be available in most places with other dealers.

  • Reply
    Alan Duncan
    October 28, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    It’s made my WB Haking and sold under numerous names most Prominently as the Halina Micro 110 or Ansco 50. It is bizarrely much better than it should be almost being the 110 equivalent of the VUWS but not quite.

    https://austerityphoto.co.uk/halina-micro-110-redux-processed-and-reappraised/

  • Reply
    davesurrey
    October 29, 2020 at 10:45 am

    In the 1980s I did a lot of travel to “interesting” countries so left my SLRs at home and took a Pentax Auto 110 system instead.

    Years later when scanning them I was surprised at how good some of the shots were considering the negative is about a fifth the area of 135 film. Although in comparison that’s not much smaller than a Micro-Four Thirds sensor.

    But many suffered from poor processing by labs that didn’t put in much care in bulk processing, supposing they were from a cheap instamatic. And I also had to deal with a lot of colour casts.

  • Reply
    Jordi Fradera
    October 29, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Thank you very much to all for your comments.
    I want to add that between 1973 and 1977 I was taking family and travel photos with a fairly advanced Kodak 110 and a Rollei 110. At that time I was only interested in the memory in 7 x 10 cm format and it did not look bad but when I scanned the negatives and saw the result on the screen I see a lot of difference with the 35 mm format. and maybe sometimes I regret having used 110 but the memory they represent comforts me.
    As I said in another article “fortunately” both cameras were stolen and I went back to 35mm.

  • Reply
    Scott Gitlin
    October 30, 2020 at 2:35 am

    Your captures still give off a vintage vibe. The imperfections can be look on as “textures” which some Photoshop users currently apply when editing their photos. Nice posting!

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    October 30, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Jordi, it’s a nice coincidence that you posted this. I’m about to receive delivery of an ITT Fashionflash 110 camera from about 1980, plus new Lomochrome Metropolis film. I’ve never shot 110 before so thought I would give it a go. Thanks.

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