The Fujifilm Cardia super28wp was the first point and shoot film camera I bought. Sporting a comfortably wide 28mm lens and weather proof design, my intentions were to use it as a street camera. One that I could pocket and pull out when I needed something wider than the usual 35mm or 50mm I use on my main camera. Using 28mm on rangefinders can be a little tedious or might require an external viewfinder. Also I only occasionally want to go for a shot wider than 35mm. For those reasons, I wanted to have a separate yet small camera ready at anytime. So I picked up this Fuji compact.
It was cheap, and the camera that got me into the madness that is collecting and trying to find the perfect point and shoot camera…..
The Cardia super28wp features a lot of plastic to keep itself weather proof. It is a bit larger than a camera in the same class but is quite light. Powered by one cr123a battery.
The top shows from right to left a nice and large shutter button followed by the power button, frame counter, panorama switch, self timer, film rewind, disable flash, and red eye reduction buttons. The back has a green light that indicates when the camera is on (solid light), off (no light) and blinking (flash is recharging or there is a problem). There is also an LCD panel with 3 buttons; mode, select and set, but this appeared to be broken on my camera. The front is very simple; a button on the lower right for using flash and the lens covered by a piece of what I assume to be plastic to protect it from water or dirt.
The buttons are a bit mushy to press and made of soft plastic. While the main shutter button is fine, the rest of the buttons however, feel difficult to press and don’t instill confidence in whether they are being properly pressed or not.
Looking through the viewfinder you will see a pleasantly bright image. A circle in the middle and guidelines for framing panoramas. The panorama mode shouldn’t be used because it just crops your film on the top and bottom. If you want a panoramic photo crop it in post.
The shutter is nice and quiet. The film advance, on the other hand, is a bit more audible but not the worst I’ve heard from a 35mm compact.
Optics are a fujinon 28mm lens. The aperture isn’t written anywhere and appears to be fixed at around f/8 or 11. I’m not sure if this is optically similar to the Fujifilm Cardia tiara mini. Seeing as they share the same focal length and similar branding it wouldn’t be strange to have similar optics.
First off, powering on the camera. The buttons are mushy and you might find yourself not actually turning on the camera when you thought you did. The shutter isn’t easily triggered, so it might be a better idea to leave it on in your pocket, ready for a quick snap. That is until you realize the camera resorts to flash for most pictures. You need to hold down the disable flash button as you press the shutter to override the flash. This could be a bit of a pain if you want to be quick and sneaky for street snaps. The buttons are also awkward and might lead to you flashing someone when you wanted to go unnoticed.
Red eye reducer fires a short flash before exposing a photo with proper flash.
The self timer button must be held down as you press the shutter to use it. It is about a 10 second timer and if you press and hold both the disable flash and self timer buttons simultaneously, as you press the shutter, the flash won’t fire when a picture is taken. An interesting note about the timer is that the camera will meter as the picture is being taken, 10 seconds after you press the shutter. It will not expose using the settings from when you pressed the shutter originally. If it metered the light when you originally pressed the shutter, you could trick the camera to expose differently. Seeing as this camera has no overrides for iso, shutter speed, aperture etc. this is unfortunate.
Real world use
Ok so, maybe not real world use for what this camera was meant for. As stated earlier, I wanted this camera as a cheap and easy 28mm point and shoot. I didn’t have a chance to use it at the beach or a place where it might have performed better, but here’s my experience.
Having to constantly hold the disable flash button to not trigger the flash cripples this camera in my opinion. If pressing it once disabled the flash until the camera was turned off, like similar point and shoots, it would be passable. As it is, one handed operation isn’t reasonable unless you want to take your chances with the flash. Even without the flash, the camera tends to default to slow speeds and over exposure. Even shooting iso 1600 Fujifilm natura yielded blurry photos in daylight.
Sharp photos can be taken with the camera. For this, it’s best to frame with subject in the middle and dark objects in the corners. This will hide the distorted corners this camera produces. I suppose it’s to be expected from something weather proof. Also you get what you paid for, this camera was under $50 u.s.d.
Most exposures will have little to no highlight detail and lots of shadow detail. Occasionally you can bring back the sky from being a white mess, but for the most part expect skies to be white. I couldn’t find much information on this camera but I assume it uses a center weighted metering system and that’s what the circle in the middle of the viewfinder is for.
When shooting with flash it’s actually not too bad, I’ve seen worse from more expensive point and shoots. The subject isn’t blown out and the backgrounds don’t go pitch black. The flash is also somewhat subtle during the day time, but still quite powerful, so use at your own risk for street snaps.
Color can be hit or miss. Usually on the muted side, and the shadows don’t have a rich black quality. The shadow detail can be quite flat. This changes somewhat with the flash, which can give a punchier look, but still not of the highest quality. This camera might be suited more for black and white photos.
With the lens being covered by a piece of plastic, it can lead to some heavy flaring when shot directly into the sun. Also it is extremely easy to have your finger show up in a shot if you aren’t paying attention or being quick.
Lastly, my particular camera broke down on me, somewhat. At a certain point it decided that 27 exposures would be enough and didn’t want to advance the film any further. This would normally be only slightly annoying but something happens on the last exposure that bleeds light into the last few frames, and the camera will not rewind the film. Even unloading in a dark bag made a few frames have light leeks toward the sprockets. With 27 frames, give or take, spooled up its also quite difficult to yank out and roll back up into the canister. I ended up shooting two rolls where this happened and then decided to call it quits on this camera, as the rainy season had ended and the camera seemed to not be functioning properly.
This is not a street camera. Maybe more of a go to the beach sort of camera. Even for that, though, I feel like there are better options. For me, I would have used it a bit more when it rained or went out to get a drink with friends. Actually that sounds like a good use of this camera. The flash is decent, it can take a beating (or a sloshing), and 28mm is wonderful for getting all your friends in the picture. The ones on the edges might look a bit fuzzy, but you were drinking and that’s how you remember them anyways.
Another thing I would like to try would be using cinestill 50 for a lomography type look. Or hacking the dx code of tri-x to shoot at 1600 or 3200 iso. The image quality just isn’t good enough though and there are better 28mm compacts out there, like the Olympus xa 4 I just got my hands on. If you want a 28mm compact and you’re on a tight budget and can put up with what I thought were problems, you might enjoy it. If not, it’s hard to recommend the Fujifilm Cardia super28wp.
Last set of pictures. Shot within seconds of eachother, yet one is blurry and one is not. At around this time the camera also decided to stop working. Hopefully it isn’t a common problem with this camera model, but I won’t be purchasing a new one to find out.
Photos scanned with a pakon 135f