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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.")
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 - https://filmphotographyproject.com/content/2009/07/ultra-wide-slim
Buy the Black Slim Devil right here in the FPP Store - https://filmphotographyproject.com/store/superheadz-black-slim-devil-camera-black