Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Halina 35X

Halina 35X
This is a small but heavy Chinese camera made by Haking in Hong Kong.  It looks a little like a Leica which I am sure is not a complete coincidence.  It is entirely made from metal - which metal I am not sure but I would presume an aluminium alloy of some sort.  The top plate is pressed brass which shows the manufacturing standards - none of it is quite flat or quite straight but fits well none-the-less.  This camera is small (115 x 70 x 70 mm), frankly a bit small for my hands but not too small to be used.

lens: Halina Anastigmat
focal length: 45mm
apertures: 3.5 - 16 no click stops
focus range: 3 feet to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: simple
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200
flash: PC socket, M synch
film size:  35mm

The lens is an Halina Anastigmat, f3.5 45mm.  When I received this camera, both the focussing helical and the aperture control were so stiff it was nearly impossible to turn them.  Research on the Interweb suggests that this was usual from new.  I have applied naptha (lighter fuel) in an attempt to remove any sticky gunk from both of these and after the naptha had dried off, I applied a small amount of clock oil which seems to have freed them both nicely.  The test will be if the controls are still free in a few days time.  The lens is a triplet with the outer two elements being coated but not the middle element.
Halina 35X - top view

The aperture is adjustable from f3.5 to f16 according to the scale, but the control ring moves well beyond f16 so i suspect the smallest aperture is at least f22.  The markings on the aperture control ring are very irregular.  This is for two reasons.  Firstly, the scale is logarithmic - most of my cameras have a linear aperture scale but a few have a logarithmic one - the difference depends on how the control ring is linked to the diaphragm blades.  Secondly, the aperture range starts at f3.5 and then goes to f4 - the change from f3.5 to f4 is only half a stop; a full stop to f4 would be from f2.8.

Focussing is from three feet to infinity.  I have yet to use this camera so I have no idea how well it will perform, but my Interweb research suggests not too well.  I will make up my own mind when I have run a test film through the camera.  There is a depth of field scale next to the focussing scale which is something I wish modern lenses had.  I find it very useful.

This camera has both double exposure control and missed frame control.  Winding on the film releases the shutter release but does not cock the shutter.  This is done by a lever on the left side of the shutter housing.  So, to take a picture, you need to wind on and manually cock the shutter.  Already by the time this camera was made (1959-ish) this was a very old fashioned way of doing things.  however, this method does allow for multiple exposures if you want them - hold down the shutter release and cock and release the cocking lever for each exposure you want.

Both film advance and film rewind are managed by knobs rather than levers - again, rather old fashioned for the time.  I am quite happy with knobs rather than levers.

The viewfinder is a reverse Galilean finder - 'reverse' means that it produces a smaller than life image which in this case is only just smaller.  The viewfinder is small - much the same size as an early Voigtlander Vito B - and smaller than was usual for the time.  This makes it hard to use for spectacle wearers like myself.

There is an accessory shoe - a cold shoe in flash terms - and a PC flash connector.  There is a 'M' embossed in the metal beside the PC connector so this is synchronised for ordinary flash bulbs rather than fast bulbs or electronic flash. The frame counter is beneath the film advance and it counts down to zero so when loading a new film the counter needs to be set to the length of the film and the figure showing is how many frames are left.  For a thirty six exposure film, you initially set the frame counter to zero, there being thirty six divisions around the counter.
Halina 35X - base plate

To load a film you need to remove the back and base of the camera in one piece.  There is a central knob in the base plate which needs to be turned a quarter of a turn to open the camera.  The end of the film slides beneath a spring on the take-up spool and there is no tooth to engage in a sprocket hole, the film being held in place entirely by the pressure of the spring.  I have just loaded my first film and this is  very easy to do.  With cameras where the back and base come away together, I generally find loading new film quite difficult - certainly with both Zeiss Ikon Contaflex and Voigtlander Bessamatic cameras - supporting the weight of the camera while manipulating both the film and take-up spool can be quite difficult.  Not so with this camera partly, I suspect, because the camera is not so large or heavy as those cameras.

19-1-2013:  
So how does this camera work in practise?  I have a couple of issues with it.  One is the size of the viewfinder - rather small for its day and very small by modern standards.  I have to take my spectacles off to use it which is awkward to say the least.

I found myself forgetting to cock the shutter before pressing the shutter release.  This is not a problem with older cameras as one you have noticed your mistake you can cock the shutter and try again.  Alas, not here.  Once you press the shutter release, you action the double exposure device and have to wind on the film before you can operate the shutter again.  With my test film, this cost me fifteen frames out of the thirty six available on the roll of film.  OK, this is not really the cameras fault - I should be able to remember the basics and would learn to in time if I used this camera continually, but it is still annoying.

Another problem is that I have freed up the aperture control ring too much.  When I got this camera, I could barely move this control ring at all.  Now it moves itself between shots.  Knowing this, it is not too hard to reset the aperture between shots but that is not how I like to work.  I usually set the shutter speed, aperture and focus at the hyperfocal point and then use cameras as point-and-shoot cameras.

My last problem was rewinding the film into the cassette.  The rewind knob is also stiff (stiff is the one resounding quality of this camera) and I could not tell when the film was rewound.  I rewound for what seemed like a long time and opened the back - a significant amount of film was still on the take-up spool.  this did less damage than I thought it would - I lost seven frames for white-out but the last twelve frames were OK - unexposed film was clearly good enough to protect the tail end of the film from fogging.

 Here are a few of the shots from my test film - a fair amount of flare and severe vignetting which is very apparent in the last picture:

Guildhall Street, Lincoln

Looking at the Witham from Mint Street

High Bridge, Lincoln

Saltergate, Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral