Camera of the Week: Fujica AX-3

IMG_7839When Key Snap texted me asking if I wanted a couple grab bags of random camera stuff that someone had just gifted to him, I of course jumped at it.  A free camera to play with? Yes, please! (:

When the contents of the bags were sorted, I found I had a nice 80-200mm zoom that would fit my Olympus OM-1 body, three nice Fuji-mount lenses and a Fujica AX-3 that fit the lenses. Also included was a Minolta Maxxum body with no lens, but with a half-shot roll of film inside.

IMG_7839aSo, of course I pulled the half-shot roll out of the Maxxum in the darkroom and re-loaded it into the AX-3, wound back to frame 0 to double-expose onto whatever the previous owner of the Minolta body had shot. The film was ISO100, so I set the camera to ISO200 for my overshooting.

2014-11-27-3 2014-11-27-4 2014-11-27-5Caffenol-C developing is actually pretty good about bringing reasonable contrast and detail out the ancient C-41 Kodak film. The double-exposed frames offer tantalizing ghosts populating my random shots from around the yard. The ghosts are having a birthday party and a ghost woman in the last set of frames nearly bumps into my shadow as both of us back into each other holding cameras to our faces in different places and times.

2014-11-27-2 2014-11-27-1Surprisingly, towards the end of the roll, the non-double-exposed shots turned out pretty well too, despite being underexposed. Not a bad-performing camera at all, the AX-3 was the “middle-of-the-road” 35mm SLR offering by Fuji in the 1980’s. AP autoexposure and a full manual mode, simple operation and some interesting features (a trap-door light blocker for the eyepiece – I’ve never seen that on a camera before), I nevertheless had to dig up a manual online just to figure out how to turn it on. The power switch is disguised as if it were an unobtrusive molded body part,  and is impossible to find intuitively.

IMG_7846Getting the thing working was easy. It takes the same battery as a Canon AE-1, so I had a few handy. Once I figured out the power switch, I was good to go. A nice, easy-to-use shooter with smooth-working, bright glass – I think the only bad thing I can say about it other than the hidden power switch is that I’m not fond of the metallic ringing shutter sound it produces. It’s not really unpleasant, but it sounds cheap compared to many other 35mm bodies I have that give a more meaty, non-ringing “THOCK” on shutter release.

But for free, I can’t complain a bit. (:

Oh look, fellow Typospherian Vikram has one of these too, but his doesn’t seem to work.

Coming up on Camera of the Week:


$3.68 worth of Polaroid fun. Best if used before 1980? We'll see about that...

$3.68 worth of Polaroid fun. Best if used before 1980? We’ll see about that…

Updated: April 11, 2024 — 12:32 pm


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  1. Very nice grab bags.

  2. Wow – those double exposures are fantastic. They make me think of memories distorted by age. I’m glad to see it going to good use!

    1. I was just thinking that it would make a nice starter kit for a beginning film student. Works great, nice selection of lenses. You sure there’s not someone hanging around your film class that could use a nice starter kit? My main interest in it was just to get it working and try it out :D

      1. Oh, I’ve already donated/sold a few rigs in class. If you find a deserving candidate, feel free to pass it along.

  3. ah, good to be back reading the blogs.
    That’s a fine camera experience there. I’ll have to highlight the one I got recently.

  4. I might just be able to figure out the Polaroid!!!

    1. sadly, I did test the SX-70 Polaroid film pack, and although it was well-sealed, still 34 years worth of expired is definitely well and truly EXPIRED. The film pack’s battery was completely flat so I pulled the film out of the original pack holder in the darkroom and stuck it in a less-old empty holder that still had some juice. Turns out, even the developer chemical packs in the film had completely evaporated or solidified. Result: failure. ):

  5. I’ve had the same experience with old Polaroid film. Including a box of roll film. Remember when you had to open the door on the back, and stick your finger nail in the slot to tear the photo out of the roll?

    I’m curious why you didn’t advance the film past the exposed shots, leaving the lens cover on? I did that once in the late ’40,s when I didn’t want to waste a half roll of Kodachrome. I replaced a Praktiflex with an ailing shutter, with a used Contax II. The last shot on the film was ocean waves crashing on the beach. I advanced it in the Contax to what I thought was unexposed film, and took a vertical shot of the Campanile at Berkeley. I was one shot short, so my beautiful night shot had the Campanile on it’s side floating ashore on a nice wave. Nice try.

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