Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sedic XF33 110 Instamatic: Sedic who?

I inherited this camera from my late brother years ago. The camera store where I worked got a "deal" with the distribution company who represented Sedic light meters. Seems Sedic decided to get into the camera business and chose the (then) popular 110 Instamatic film format for their first foray into the equipment world. As I remember, these suckers were not inexpensive; Sedic assumed their good name (almost unknown in North America) was worth the extra buck or two. Boy, were they wrong.

The Sedic XF33 shown here was one of several models they offered. As usual, the line was arranged along price-points for consumers. The XF33 as I remember was somewhere at the top of the line. It seems to me there were a few underneath this model and maybe one or two above. No matter. With an unknown brand name, these cameras soon found themselves in the wire basket of clearance stuff near the checkout counter. They languished for some time until my brother came along.

My brother took to this camera as it had a certain high-tech look and it allowed the addition of an add-on motor winder. That was something to have in a camera during the late 1970's. The whir of a motor winder was usually only heard on far more expensive 35mm cameras of the day. What he really liked is that it provided a much better grip for him to hold the camera. I told him that for under $5 I could get him a tripod socked grip. Nope, the motor winder was just too cool to pass up.

After a dozen or so rolls of Instamatic film through the XF33, my brother noticed that the photos produced by the camera's "Color-Balanced Lens" (aren't they all?) were not so hot, or at least no better than our father's older Kodak Instamatic 50 camera. He found out that how a camera looks and how it shoots are two different things. On top of that, setting the zone focus never matched where he happened to be standing. Soon the Sedic ended up in a drawer until it was given to me.

When presented with the Sedic, I wanted to just quickly donate it. But I kept the camera out of respect for my late brother. He loved it, though he didn't use it. Except to click off the motor winder from time to time.

And the hotshoe. Let's not forget the hotshoe. Most other 110's used Flipflash or MagiCubes. Very few offered the same interface as a "real" SLR camera. The trouble was, the hotshoe was on the side of the camera. Any flash of the day weighed about a pound. It was destined that either the flash's plastic foot or the hotshoe itself would lose-out to gravity. And no one wanted to bounce their Vivitar's flash sideways instead of the usual upward. Bit of a design error there.

I certainly had no interest in collecting a camera series from a company that didn't have either the kind of construction quality that was high enough to admire or the funky coolness of any of those lovable photo doggies out there like a Lomo or a Spartus.

Actually, the longer I have this camera, the more I like it. Sure, it's got more chrome on it than an old Chrysler, yeah the leather is flying off it daily. Worst of all, you've got to unhook the motor winder just to load another cartridge into the camera. It just looks, so . . . Disco era. Not really a camera looking camera, more like a some old sci-fi show pistol. I guess I'm drawn to the weird.

Whatever. There's room in the collection for examples of the also-rans as well as the classics. Sedic may have come and gone but I've got one piece of someone's marketing dream to prove they once existed. Excuse me, I've got to go and put some fresh AA's in the Sedic's winder now.

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