This plastic fantastic clone of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim produces the same dreamy, saturated ultra-wide images of the original camera. Equipped with a ‘super fat’ 22mm lens and available in adorable colours such as gold harikin (hedgehog), white angel and sakurasan (cherry blossom pink), they’re also super cute, as Japanese products tend to be.
I actually wrote up an extensive review weighing the pros and cons of this camera for Lomography magazine, but it was rejected (silently and swiftly) on account of its main subject being a product of rival toy-camera company, SuperHeadz. That’s right, Lomography will accept reviews, articles and pictures from cameras that fit within its own brand image, but not those of rival manufacturers. There’s clearly more to the ‘lomo movement’ than ‘don’t think, just shoot!’. Lomography is a mean, green marketing machine, and it’s is one of the reasons I started this blog: freedom of bloody speech.
These shots are from some test rolls that I took around my neighbourhood, Sydney Central Station and at a pretty farm in Galston that we passed on our way to pick persimmons back in 2011. I had no problems at all taking this camera with me wherever I went, and I’ve made good use of it as a travel camera in the past (I have a roll from the Great Wall of China lying around somewhere; must get that developed soon).
The SuperHeadz UWS is actually the perfect camera for documenting your travels. To start off with, it is seriously light. With film inside, it weighs less than a Parker fountain pen or iPod nano, just to give you a rough idea. Not only is it light, and therefore easy to carry around, but it’s also has the convenience of 35mm film. There’s none of the hassle and extra processing costs of medium format film that’s involved with the Diana F+ or Holga. As it has a wide lens, the SuperHeadz is also capable of capturing more detail than a standard film point-and-shoot.
Unlike with other toy cameras, there’s no need to worry about settings or screwed-up images either. Firstly, there are no settings! You just need to shoot in ample lighting and your photos will turn out sharp, with lots of contrast and punchy colours. So to sum up, the pros of the SuperHeadz UWS are that it is ultra light, ultra wide, takes 35mm film (convenienct), and produces good quality images. Sounds pretty good so far. What might some of the cons of this camera be?
Its greatest drawback is probably its pumped up price. Toy cameras, given their cheap plastic surfaces and flimsy construction, are so expensive these days. I paid a total of $37 AUD including postage for my SuperHeadz harikin. Some reviewers say they found theirs for $10-20, but those days are long gone. Unless you manage to find an original Vivitar UWS, there’s a high chance you’ll have to fork out at least $30 for this baby. It might be worth tracking one of those Vivitars down, but on the other hand, the SuperHeadz models are so cute, who can resist their candy colours?
Some other minor concerns: the back is quite hard to open, but it’s just a matter of holding the camera upside down and letting the back drop open, rather than trying to break your fingers wrenching it out with the flimsy plastic knob. The front plastic surface also gets scratched very easily. I ordered my gold harikin thinking that it would be a sort of matte gold finish like in the first photo, but it’s more of a shiny candy-wrapper gold, and the scratches make it look so dull!
Ultimately, the SuperHeadz UWS is like a reusable version of those disposable cameras you can purchase at supermarkets. If you don’t want to spend $30 on a piece of plastic, you can get similar results with the Lomo Aquapix, a $9 waterproof film camera also available on eBay. But of course, those don’t have the super fat wide lens of the UWS!