The Fuji Natura Classica is a small, 35mm film camera that boasts the ability to take pictures in low light without flash. When loaded with 1600 iso film, the Natura Classica’s shutter speed is very fast in challenging light situations, which eliminates the inevitable blurry subjects that appear after attempting to hold the camera still for a long exposure shot. After waiting a few years to get my hand on this fancy little camera I can honestly say that I am not disappointed.
It’s price, around $300, is pretty steep for a point and shoot film camera so I attempted to order one from the Lomography Society with piggy points, however they were sold out when I finally accumulated enough, so I purchased one from eBay instead. The price of this camera has come down a little bit in the past year or two, so if you’re looking for one eBay is a good place to start. Mine arrived very quickly from Japan and when I opened the instructions I discovered they were written only in Japanese. A search of the internet turned up this page from Moominsean’s blog that was extremely helpful. While it appears there’s no English version of the manual (because the camera was originally available for sale in Japan exclusively) his blog contains a translation of some very important steps. The writing on my camera’s buttons are in English, thank goodness. I know a couple of non-Japanese speaking photographers who have the version of this camera with Japanese writing on the buttons which would look pretty cool, but would be another layer of frustration.
Initial impressions of this little camera are that it is very lightweight, almost cheap-feeling. Kudos to the Fuji folks for including batteries for the camera in the package (a lithium CR2 3volt). The lens (f 2.8 to 5.4) goes from wide to telephoto (28mm to 56mm) with the push of a lever. My lens action was smooth and very quiet, but not as quiet as the actual click of the shutter and advancing of the film, which are virtually noiseless. It’s like a stealthy little spy camera.
I used 800 iso Fuji color negative film for my first roll since it was the fastest film I had in my supply. These first few pictures were taken in my kitchen and living room in the evening.
Overall, the pictures aren’t bad at all considering I’m not using 1600 speed. When I zoomed in to focus on the orchids in the top picture a little red light kept flashing when I depressed the shutter halfway, which I thought meant the picture was out of focus but clearly my subject is not blurry.
Next, we took a trip to the local big box hardware store.
Wow! I know this lighting would have totally confused a normal camera. I’ve tried taking pictures in this store with a 35mm point and shoot before and have gotten crappy results. These were outstanding.
On New Year’s Eve my little camera went on a trip to Bethany Beach.
The sun was hiding just behind the building in this shot, throwing the surfer (all decked out for NYE) into dark shadows.
Behind the counter of a diner. Sun was streaming in to the left so the scene was partly lit with natural light. I love that there’s no icky green-ish tint here from the fluorescent lighting. I got that weird blinking red light again when I was taking this shot. I’m beginning to think that it’s not a matter of focus but of being in low-light picture-taking mode or NP as they call it in the manual.
That night I saw one of my favorite bands at a local bar and got some pictures in a really dark setting.
That last shot was outside. I think my results would have been much better with some 1600 speed film but these results still far surpass what I would’ve gotten from an ordinary camera. There is very little blur in the band shots and the detail found in the places with good lighting is amazing.
Finally, I was anxious to get some pictures outside in full sunlight since I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Natura Classica’s performance in those conditions.
This was the beginning of a 5K that I ran on January 1, 2012. I don’t see anything wrong with these results. Here are some pictures taken from a walk on the beach. I was thrilled to able to capture beautiful images of the inside of a sub lookout tower.
In this dark picture, I was holding the camera out into the space of the tower as far as my arm would allow since you can’t actually climb into the towers. The only available light inside the tower comes from the slits that line it’s sides. I got much better results by keeping the camera close to the side of the tower and therefore, closer to the light. This is pretty much the same picture but with much better exposure and detail at the top.
Overall, I am hugely impressed by the Fuji Natura Classica. I love taking pictures without flash partly because I suck at using a flash and partly because I just love natural lighting. If you are the same kind of photographer the Fuji Natura Classica is well worth the investment. I failed to mention earlier that the camera does come with a flash that you can turn on and off in the menu but with results like these, who needs one?