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July 16, 2019

Toy Camera Fun with the Ansco 1065

Having weirdly enjoyed the experience of the Quickshot X3000, and the rugged feel of plastic in my hands still fresh on my mind, I saw an ad for an Ansco 1065 35mm, complete with wide angle and telephoto lenses, flash, carry case AND user’s manual at a reasonable price, I was all in.

I arrived at Celeste’s house to check out the Ansco and was met by the nicest people. We chatted for quite a bit, then I headed on with my goods, not sure when I was going to get a chance to test drive it. But I sure liked looking at it. It looked brand new. I think it was a gift that someone stuck in a closet and never used. It still had plastic over all the lenses. Score.

Of historical interest might be that Ansco was actually the company that invented flexible film, not Kodak. But Kodak took it and ran, violating patents and, cheating Ansco out of what was rightfully theirs. Eventually there was a settlement, but nothing that compared to what they would have made had Kodak been honest.

Bragging an ANSCONAR LENS, this beauty came with lens attachments, flash, and carry case. I believe EVERYTHING on this camera is made of plastic.

Focus Pocus

One thing I love about these toy cameras is that there just isn’t much to adjust.  When it comes to focus, for example, just point and shoot.

It’s so fun to just click, advance…click, advance…click, advance. The downside of no focus is that the lens is set with a deep depth of field, so the odds of getting a shot in focus are better. If you’re wanting to blur out the foreground and background, that’s not happening here.

You also have to be a little further away from the subject than most manual focus lenses you might be used to. My lackluster testing says stay at least five feet away.

You can see in this image that my donut is just too close to the camera, as is my coffee. But look at the other end of the table and you can see it’s starting to come into focus. I’m guessing four to five feet here. Now you know.

Aperture Priority Automatic

Both the Quickshot and the Ansco have an attempt at aperture control. Using clever icons even kids can understand, you have your bright day, cloudy day, etc. But there is no shutter control. So I’ll put that in the Aperture Priority Auto category.

The speed is actually controlled by … wait for it … the film speed you choose. Both cameras seem to be made for 400 asa, although the Ansco indicates on aperture adjustments settings for 100 asa. So if you want to play with shooting in low light, which, when using the 400 asa film, it does poorly, you could drop 3200 asa film in there and see what happens.

This was NOT a dark room I was sitting in. I’m on a patio of a cafe in Geneva, Switzerland and it was a sunny day. I’m curious how this would have come out had there been 3200 asa film in it. This is a daylight camera, unless you have the flash attached.

The 1065 is a fun camera to shoot. It’s maiden voyage was to Geneva, Switzerland where I gave her a run for her money. I shot color, black and white, buildings, people standing, people sitting, people walking, people riding scooters, and anything else of interest. Because there’s no focus, I could hold it at waist level and hope, like I did with a little girl on the train. She didn’t know I was taking her picture. People would walk by “click.” I’d be walking along and see something interesting “click.” I was having a ball.

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I had also taken a Voigtlander Vitessa with me, and after attempting to shoot a few frames, I gave up. It was weird. When I pressed the shutter nothing happened, but when I pushed the plunger to advance the film, the shutter would fire. I knew I had about seven frames exposed, but rolled the film mostly back into the canister and loaded it in the Ansco. “Meh…a few double exposure shots ought to be fun,” I thought.

One thing I noticed when I got my Ansco shots back the first time out, some of the shots were clear, and others had a strange haze, or aura, throughout. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but it was unexpected and inconsistent.

So I took the 1065 out and did some testing. I stood in one place and took three shots of the exact same thing, using each of the three aperture settings. Then, not moving my location, I took three more the same way, but with the wide angle lens. And I did this a third time with the telephoto. I wanted to know if the was the camera or the lenses that was causing the distortion. Remember, I’m admittedly bad at taking notes when I shoot. I just load and go.

What I found is that if the aperture is set for bright days, all is clear. Change for hazy or cloudy skies, and the aberration appears. Problem solved. Now I know that if I want a decent shot, go for bright. If I want that cheap, toy camera with a plastic lens effect, hazy or cloudy.

You can see by this comparison that the Bright setting, far left, is much sharper than Hazy, middle, and Cloudy, far right. The only adjustments I’ve made on these post-scan were tonal. NO sharpening has been applied to any of these, during scanning or afterwards.

Bring on the Flash

Yes, the Ansco 1065 has a matching flash attachment, the Ansco-Lite F20.

I rarely use a flash, but thought it would be fun to test this out. The recommended aperture setting for using the flash is “cloudy,” which, if you remember from earlier in this article, is going to create that aura throughout the image and not be as sharp. Maybe I don’t follow the instructions for this one.

I haven’t had the opportunity to take her out with the flash since, but it’s on my list. I believe this could make a fun party camera, as ANYONE can use it. Load her up, pass her around, and see what you get when the film is developed.

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Lens Attachments

I’m a sucker for baubles, as my friend Mark calls them. You know, the little weird things that one finds that go along with a camera? I love my little yellow and red metal 35mm film case, or my little leatherette film cases with a cute little zipper. I won’t use them, but they look cool in the case.

So when I saw in the ad that this Ansco came complete with two add on lens attachments, I was, I’m embarrassed to say, a bit giddy.

Because the camera is fixed lens, there isn’t a way to change the focal length like on modern SLRs. So many cameras came with additional lenses that screwed on to add the wide angle or telephoto capability.

Author’s Note: Not all of these attachments for makes and models of cameras screwed on. Some attached with a bayonet, like my Ricoh TLR, while others used whatever technology the manufacturer thought was a good idea at the time. I have a Contaflex that requires an adaptor that slides up over the lens, and the telephoto lens screws onto it. It looks really cool.

My buddy Ron decided it was necessary to turn the lens attachment around to get a shot of me. I like the effect.

The lens attachments are finely threaded, so some care is necessary in putting them on. And if you’re in a hurry, you will miss the shot. But if you plan the shots and have the attachment on and ready, it’s fun.

I used the wide angle while walking in old town Geneva, and the telephoto when I thought I might be shooting people in the street. Otherwise, I used just the basic 45mm lens. And, yes, I did miss a few shots and life blurred around me.

You can see the wide angle lens attachment shot, far left, compared to the fixed lens, center, and telephoto lens, far right. It matters.

At the risk of boasting, this camera also came with a case for the lenses and a case for the kit, made of a soft black thin vinyl and lined with red velour. Yeah…I know. And that case has a shoulder strap, so I can look rather dapper walking around with it hanging under my arm.

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Russell Viers

I'm just a guy who finds the world an interesting place and likes to capture certain moments with a camera. They aren't for sale, or anything. I just like them. Well, usually. I've taken a lot of photos I don't like, as well.

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