Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Street shooting with the Olympus Infinity Twin

The Oldsmobile of Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Olympus Infinity Twin. (c) DKassnoff, 2016
It's a gray brick. Press the shutter button, and you hear the workings of your Aunt Stella's sewing machine. It's a 1988 relic from a time when Olympus believed you only needed two focal lengths: 35mm and 70mm.

That's the Olympus Infinity Twin, a thrift-store find that consumed $3.99 and promised a photographic experience comparable to driving my Uncle Arnold's Olds Starfire F-85 around the narrow streets of Bayside, NY. It did the job, but felt clunky in the execution, like the ball joints were shot.

The Infinity Twin (known as the Olympus AF Twin in some regions) had a twin-lens design. The 35mm lens was the default, but a button atop the camera activated a mirror that doubled the focal length to 70mm. The 35mm, f3.5 lens was sharper and faster than the 70mm.

I'm fond of Olympus' clamshell lens cover design, which first appeared with the Olympus XA film cameras, and really ushered in an era of pocketable 35mm cameras. But the Olympus Infinity Twin remained bulky, and required two CR123A lithium batteries to do its job, That meant a heavy bulge in one's pocket. And led to other problems.

(c) DKassnoff, 2016
In 2006, the cameras were recalled due to incidents of the flash circuitry overheating and burning the user's hands.

By then, of course, the move to digital photography became a stampede. Olympus was slapping its well-regarded Stylus branding on countless mediocre pocket-sized digital point-and-shoots. Most Twin owners parked their cameras in a desk drawer or donated them to Volunteers of America.  New CR123A batteries for the camera became more expensive than shipping it off to Olympus America for repairs.

How did this model do? With 10-year-old ISO 200 film, not too badly. The color shift is pretty obvious, even in the post-processed shots from Toronto, below.

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