Enter the Konica Wai Wai

Somehow, I’ve managed to be on Twitter at just the right time, twice, to catch generous offers from Dan K: first for a giveaway, through which I scored a bunch of different black & white films, some disposables, and some other stuff; the second to score 1 of 4 reloaded Konica Wai Wai disposables…

I tried to come up with some sort of clever title for this post. “It’s my Konica and I’ll Wai Wai if I want to” was the clear favorite, but still seemed too silly, and while the Wai Wai is a 15 year old, plastic, disposable camera, maybe it deserves a bit more respect than that.

After all, there aren’t many Wai Wais still Wai Wai-ing. Production started in the early 2000s, with a second edition some years later, and  they originally came with a sort of grip to help keep fingers out of the frame and a mirror on the front for selfy fun. Most of the reviews and experience reports (see Hamish at 35mmc, Sean Moomin, and filmwasters, for example) out there have pictures of the Wai Wais with these grips on them, but mine arrived naked.

After my fingers appeared in some shots from the first roll, I developed a fancy grip for it for the second (and subsequent) rolls.

Did I mention the Wai Wai is reloadable? Well, it is, and while I had some trouble with it the first time, my second attempt went down without a hitch.

So how does it perform? Well… It’s  a plastic, disposable camera with a plastic lens, but it’s surprisingly capable, and fairly sharp from about a foot in front of the lens, out to about 20′, after which it goes a bit soft.

 

The lens is also prone to some wonderful flare, and once you know it’s there, it seems like one could put it to good use, maybe.

 

If I got out a bit more, maybe I would too…

Anyway. It takes a bit of planning and work to get the best results with this wide a lens. In general, you want some foreground interest near the edges of the frame, something to draw the eye into the composition.

And you really have to get closer than you think.  The cake is about 8″ away, if that, and Daniyal is maybe 30″, and there’s still loads of open space on both sides.


You may notice a horizontal line running across the top third of the frame… It’s in every shot from the second roll (my first attempt at reloading). I know I messed something up: there was so much tension on the film that I had to use two thumbs to wind it: one to spin the winder, the other to keep the winder steady and prevent it from spinning backwards. It didn’t do this with the roll that came in it, and it’s not doing it with my second reload attempt, so I hope that line comes from some stretching or a wrinkle or something. I won’t find out until I finish  the roll of Bergger Pancro that’s in there now, but it’s definitely not a light leak, as it runs down the entire length of the roll.

It’s a bit of a shame, since the Wai Wai is the only camera I used to document Daniyal’s 4th birthday party. InshaAllah I’ll do a better job for his 5th, maybe.

In other news, today is the last day for my employer’s Dallas office. All 75ish employees sited there are (or will be as of close of business today) forcibly moved to Work from Home status. It’s no surprise: of the 75, only 6 or 8 came in with any regularity. Another 4 or 5 maybe came in once a week. Everyone else moved to full time WFH status months or years ago, so why pay for a big corner suite with internal restrooms for less than a dozen people?

In partial memoriam, here are some recent shots out the window…

and some recent at work selfies too.

With the flash on, you can get some really good subject isolation, especially at 2.5-3 feet. Beyond that, it falls of quickly. Also, a couple of florescent bulbs is insufficient for f/8 or f/11 at 1/100th, and my pre-Ramadan work diet was much different than my during and post-Ramadan work diet, and likely different from my WFH work diet too, since my darling adorable wife looks at me crosseyed when she spots snack food wrappers in the garbage…

So, the Konica Wai Wai. 17mm is WIIIIIIIIIIDDDEE. Plastic, disposable cameras are not the pinnacle of sharpness or robustness. But at 3 rolls in (with one more before the people at Showa reloaded it and gave it to Dan K), I’m really having fun with it, and I look forward to seeing what I get from the Bergger Pancro (and have an idea to shoot some HP5 in it, and push it to 1600… wonder what that would be like?).

Purpose
Price
Craftsmanship
Ease of Use

Sure, it’s plastic, and the lens is so wide that it requires a modified grip to shoot successfully, and at rapidly diminishing quantities, they’re getting a bit expensive, if you can even find one, but it’s fun fun fun, and makes me want to get one of those 14mm Sammyang lenses (or maybe save up for one of the Nikon zooms…). Until then, though, the Wai Wai is just right for the likes of me. It’s just fun!

Overall, I’d give it a solid 3.8, and I’d really like to give it more than that. I’m glad to have one and hope to keep it running for awhile. I’ve read reports of people getting 20+ reloads out of it, and when I finish, maybe I’ll mod the lens into a m42 body cap and find some kind of slr to put it in.

Thanks, Dan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.