The EmulsiveSanta 2018 gift exchange program found me gifting my chrome Action Sampler. My victim recipient asked for the clear one, and, shame on me, within minutes of dropping the gift in the mail, I went on the ‘bay and found a clear Action Sampler (in Toys ‘R’ Us packaging, with a roll of long expired, Ferrania-made, Lomo 800). And then my Emulsive Santa sent me a black and white (or maybe glow-in-the-dark) Action Sampler too…

So I went from 1 (chrome), to none, to 2 Action Samplers, all in the space of about 3 weeks…

1 Action Sampler is fun: cheap and cheerful, as they say. 2 Action Samplers is excessive.

Oh Well.

I decided to try out the clear one first and carried it down to Mineral Wells, to the grocery store, and on walks with my darling, adorable wife with a roll of Lomography’s new Berlin Kino 400 film, just to see what would happen.

(Apologies: I haven’t made product shots of the new cameras yet. Lazy. It’s this one.)

I wanted to test the Berlin Kino in the Diana Mini, but when I went to load it, I discovered a problem with the winder… So the Action Sampler was an obvious second choice… sorta.

I worried about light leaks… with a clear camera, can you blame me? And, indeed, there are some…

They’re largely limited to the sprocket area, but one extends along the left edge, and another appears in the right 1/3 in many frames.

They’re not a huge issue, really: they don’t appear in every frame. More worrying, to me: the winder sounded like it was ripping every sprocket hole, it just makes an awful sound. But the film came out unscathed, and otherwise, it was just like my old chrome Action Sampler.

With ISO 400 film, the 4x 26mm f/8 lenses at 1/100th are just about right for most daylight subjects. It fails in deep shade and bright light, but is really just fine most of the time.

The sweet spot of focus is fairly deep, from maybe 4 or 5 feet out to 40 or 50 feet, but not to infinity. That’s fine with me, as it’s more or less how I see anyway, and like the f/8, 1/100th lenses, it works for most subjects, most of the time.

Bright lights outside of the, or just inside, make some great starburst patterns… With some nice saturated color stock, I bet they would really sing.

The Berlin Kino film worked well. (I shot another roll in the FM3a, with the 24mm f/2.8 and 75-150 f/3.5 E and will have more to say about the film later.) The grain structure and everything works well with the rendering from the plastic lens. If you’re curious, I developed in Ilfotec HC, 1:31, for 7 minutes, normal agitation.

So… The Clear Action Sampler…

Well, it’s an Action Sampler: 4 plastic lenses, 26mm, with fixed f/8 apertures, shooting sequentially over about 1 second. It seems intended to shoot some sort of short action sequence or movement, but I like it for static scenes just fine. Nathan Pearce put out an entire zine of Illinois landscapes shot with an Action Sampler, and it got me interested in the Action Sampler in the first place.

If you don’t have one, they’re an astonishing $35 at Lomography, but you can find them for less on the ‘bay. I probably wouldn’t pay more than $20 or $25 for one, and that’s about what I spent on two (the Chrome one cost me $10 or $12; the Clear was $10 flat). They also appear under other names—Sports35, Action Tracker, Cyber Sampler, Quattro, etc.—so if you’re looking for one, hunt around a bit. (Or reach out to me: I have two now, and once I put a roll through the other one, I’ll probably be happy to pass off one of them, probably this clear one…)

So that’s the Clear Action Sampler. Look forward to some thoughts on my other one (some day), and on the Berlin Kino film (soon).

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