Fujica Compact Deluxe

I eyeballed this Fujica Compact Deluxe for several weeks before buying it from Dan Kagle at The Darkroom @ Division 9. Introduced in 1967, the Compact Deluxe has a Fujinon f/1.8 lens, shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/500, and apertures from f/1.8 to f/22. It is fairly compact and easily fits in the case that came with my first digital camera, a Kodak point and shoot. For me, the clincher for the sale was the fact that Dan had tested the camera with film, so he knew that everything important was working.

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In my mind “everything important” did not include the metering system which is needed for the shutter priority mode to work. The camera did not have a battery installed, so there was no way to tell how the shutter priority mode was working, but I thought I’d shoot it manually using the Sunny 16 system. If everything else worked after I inserted a battery, that would just be a bonus.

The rangefinder focusing on this camera is controlled with a thumbwheel on the rear of the camera, a nice, though unusual feature. There is also a zone focusing wheel, marked with both foot and meter scales on the top of the camera near the shutter release button. I’ve seen brighter rangefinder patches but the patch on this camera is still quite useable (and I never had a problem seeing it in practice).

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 The oddest feature of this camera is the position of the film advance lever, which is tucked away on the bottom. I thought that was going to trip me up when using it, but in actual practice it turned out to be quite comfortable.

I shot an 8-frame roll after I bought it and after development determined that everything seemed to be working fine with the camera. After installing the correct battery, the shutter priority mode didn’t wake up, which was about what I expected. This camera will eventually have to be sent out for repair, but in the interim, I’ll be quite happy to shoot it manually.

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Since my motorcycling group was going to ride California Route 2, the Angeles Crest Highway the next day, it seemed a good time to give the Fujica a thorough test. I packed the Custom Deluxe in the right-hand saddlebag and one of the Nikon SLRs in the left bag as a backup. Example photographs from the Fujica Compact Deluxe will appear in the next blog post, A Mid-Spring Ride.