January 17, 2012 by darl0153
Up first is this plastic camera from Poland, the Ami 66, made between 1970 and 1980 by Warszawskie Zaklady Fotooptyczne (Warsaw Photo-optical Works or WZFO) a firm set up by the Polish government in 1951. The Ami 66 is a simple, low cost plastic camera, similar to the Holga. The camera was very popular in the People’s Republic of Poland, although as the Polish government controlled the production of the camera, they were hard to get hold of.
The Ami 66 was a modern simplified replacement to the Ami 2, simplified in the fact that it only had two shutter speeds, 1/50 (labeled as ‘M’) and B (Bulb), whereas the Ami 2 had 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 and B. It’s body made form ‘Styropol’ – a form of high impact polystyrene – and the addition of a white polka dot design sticker around the lens, possibly to imitate the look of photocells, gives it a retro, pop art design feel to it.
There is a small sticker to the right of the lens of an outline of a dog on a red background, some suggest that Ami is the name of the dog, whilst other sources say that the name could be from the French ami meaning ‘friend’, as French was very popular in Poland at the time.
There is a shoe attachment on the top of the camera, and a flash sync port located on the lens, with the flash sync speed being set at 1/50, the ‘M’ setting on the aperture ring.
The camera came in a leather case, which was odd for a camera designed to be ‘cheap’. Inside the case the manufacture usually stamped the date the camera was made
I first saw this camera in June 2011, on eBay, whilst searching for a Voltron toy camera, and fell in love with the simple, but striking design of the lens plate and lens. I noticed how much it resembles the Holga camera, the back attachment is the same, as is the actual feel of the plastic, it’s a little bit larger than a Holga, but not much, and has a chunky wind on knob. The shutter lever give a nice solid ‘clunk’ when you press it down, and a reassuring ‘clack’ when you let it go and it returns to its original position.
It wasn’t until later that year that I found time to take it out for a ‘spin’ around my home town, I loaded it up with Ilford HP5 120 film, and as it was a fairly bright day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds I decided to take a red filter along with me (with my trusty one-size-fit-all-filter-holder-device – otherwise known as a blob of ‘blu-tack’) to make the sky a bit more dramatic. Here is a selection of the results:
I was very pleased with the results, the images have a nice dark corner vignetting, and a strong level of contrast. The lens, being fairly cheap, does give some distortion around the edges, again which I like, and sharpness is missing in some of the images, but that is probably just down to a bit of camera shake. I will definitely be including this camera on the ‘to use again’ shelf.
Information taken from: