Black Slim Devil - Cult Camera Clone!

A previous FPP blog featured the celebrated Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim, a camera with near cult status today.

The “UWS” is no longer made, though, so unless you can find a used one your only recourse is to pick up one of the new UWS clones, such as those made by SuperHeadz. Should you?

SuperHeadz christens their colorful cameras with equally colorful names. I have the “Blue Ribbon.” You can also get the badass sounding “Black Slim Devil” (pictured above), the heavenly “White Slim Angel” or a variety of others. Except for the color the SuperHeadz looks identical to its Vivitar ancestor.

Handling
It’s light as a feather this thing. And that’s with a roll of film in it. Frankly it feels a little flimsy. The back door, for example, seems to latch closed only half-heartedly. And the internal gearing and winding mechanism, being plastic, fail to inspire confidence. Yet it feels good to hold, with a kind of fuzzy/grippy surface that makes it stick nicely to your fingers, and it doesn’t leak light. Not yet anyway.

The focal length is wide enough at 22mm that you don’t always feel the need to compose through the viewfinder. Indeed, you’ll get a lot in the frame.

You'll get a lot in the frame. See the pier in the distance?

 

Features
Features? There’s nothing to speak of, really. Mainly it features what SuperHeadz calls the “Super Fat” 22mm lens.  That’s about it. It has a film counter, too. And finally,…it features no battery!

Picture Quality
I’ve liked the results. The vignette and lens flair can be quite pronounced, and under the right conditions the saturated colors are very pleasant indeed. I haven’t shot any slide film yet, but I expect more color saturation when I do.

SuperHeadz, claims a 1/125 shutter speed. I wonder about that. My Blue Ribbon likes to make blur. This can be good sometimes, but can also be a pain when you’re forced to snap quickly and want your subject clear and sharp.

Blur sometimes when you don't want it.

Beware
With a fixed aperture of f11, the SuperHeadz needs good light to produce its best images.  I thought I’d enhance the camera’s low light capacity by shooting a few rolls of 800-speed film. I was a bit disappointed. In shade the images looked OK, but in sunshine they were a tad overexposed. I think ISO 400 film is probably best all round, although you could shoot 200-speed with decent results if you have bright daylight. 

Shot with Fuji 800 ISO

I have a bad habit of trying to squeeze an extra frame in when I get to the end of a film roll. I’ve read, however, that this was a major cause of transfer mechanism failure in the original UWS. I’m guessing the same goes for the SuperHeadz clone.

The lens on this camera is w-i-d-e, so keep your fingers back when you’re snapping a picture. If you wrap them around the front of the camera when you hold it you’re liable to feature a knuckle or two in the final image.

There’s no “bulb” mode nor is there a flash sync.

Although the lens is recessed, it’s always exposed to the elements. Use the camera long enough and it’s going to get scratched or marred in some way, so do take precautions to protect it.

Summary
It’s only a daylight shooter and, being plastic, you should plan to handle it carefully if you want it to live a long life. On the other hand, you can expect good color from the images, as well as vignetting, flair and some pleasant distortion. If you want interesting images from a simple, go anywhere, no hassle camera (and who doesn’t?), the SuperHeadz is for you.

(Headz up people,...the FPP store has the SuperHeadz Black Slim Devil in stock right now, so "get ovah there.")

Vignette, flair and pleasant distortion.

Brian Moore is a listener and regular contributor to the Film Photography Podcast. Brian Moore on Flickr
All images © Brian Moore

The Black and White image was shot on Arista Premium 400 film from Freestyle and processed in Rodinal. The color images were shot on Fuji Superia 400 film or, in the case of the shady street shot, Fuji 800.  

Read the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim Blog - http://filmphotographyproject.com/content/2009/07/ultra-wide-slim

Buy the Black Slim Devil right here in the FPP Store - http://filmphotographyproject.com/store/superheadz-black-slim-devil-camera-black

Comments

Antony Shepherd's picture
The recommendation for the Vivitar UWS was to use 24 exposure rolls to avoid strain on the film transporr mechanism, so I've stuck that that with mine. And yes, it is VERY easy to get your fingers in shot, I had that several times on the first roll I shot. Good to see there's an alternative still available, they really are nice lightweight pocketable cameras.
Brian Moore's picture

Thanks for your response Antony. Sounds like good advice. 

Chris Gampat's picture
I love the way you compose your images.
Brian Moore's picture

Thanks Chris. I appreciate that very much. 

Shelly Sometimes's picture

I have the Vivitar UWS and I agree on 400 ISO being the best universal film for it.  At any rate, it's what I've had the best luck with.  I didn't have good luck at all in mine with slide film - it was really blown out and ended up being almost unusable.  I think slide film needs more caressing than this little camera can give it - but YMMV.  :)  One hint that someone on the Flickr passed along to me to help take care of the film advance (malfunctions are often heard of with this in these cameras) - don't immediately wind the film after you've clicked the shutter.  Wind it right before you go to take your next picture.  It helps lessen the tension on the film advance mechanism - I've shot lots of 36 exposure rolls in my UWS and doing this, I had no problems!

Brian Moore's picture

Thanks for the response shellysometimes. I appreciate that you've shared your experience with the UWS and passed along that hint about winding. 

Shelly Sometimes's picture

Thank YOU for your great post!  Totally makes me want to get out my UWS again.  :)

Nano_Burger's picture

For those who like to void warranties, you can add some photographic controls that the lowly UWS does not have. Step-by-step here:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Bring-Your-Vivitar-Ultra-Wide-and-Slim-I...

 

 

Brian Moore's picture

Thanks Nano_Burger. I appreciate your suggestions. (By the way, you're instructable on modifying the Vivitar PN2011 camera helped me a while back when I flipped the lens on mine. Thanks.) 

Bitan Photography's picture
I own probably 40 film cameras, but this one, and another brand's clone, are always in my backpack. I'm shooting an Ironman triathlon this weekend for a magazine with my highfalutin digital rig, but will take some moments to break out the plastic fantastic with black and white loaded in one of them and Fuji Superia Xtra 400 color film in the other. Here's a favorite of mine taken with the Superheadz: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39671454@N06/4773875021/ And a folder dedicated to it on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.290850284341418.66466.100002493...
Brian Moore's picture

Thank you for commenting, Bitan Photography. You've got some nice pictures on your facebook page. 

B.C. Lorio's picture
Great post on the Black Slim Devil. I've had it for two years and think it is a fun way to shoot film. You touched on all the main points. I actually love using expired film or experimental film (for instance, Revlog) just because it seems to be fitting for a camera of this type. On a whim, I used it at a concert at a small venue two weeks ago. The results were really good. As long as there is bright light available, you can't go wrong with it!

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