Mom lives on top of a mountain in northwest Arkansas. It’s beautiful there. In late July, 2021, I took four cameras along—Lomography’s LC-Wide, a Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, a Konica WaiWai, and the Nikon FM3a with the 17-35mm f/2.8D—and they did battle…

I present the contest in the form of a round robin. This is Round 1: featuring photographs made on or from Mom’s deck by the the FM3a, the LC-Wide, and the Ultra Wide & Slim (UWS).

Let’s begin with the first frame of each roll.

I was curious to see just how much film you get out of a given roll, and all of the cameras managed at least 38 frames from a 36 exposure roll. The first image, on the left, below, is the FM3a’s 39th frame. The second and third pictures, from the LC-W and UWS, are the 40th frame.*

There are benefits to small cameras, if only that you can stretch out a roll a bit further.

I took a few steps to the right, turned, knelt, and I took a photo to see how the different cameras handled staring at the sun. I knew what would happen with the WaiWai—and will share its brilliance later in the week—but what about the Nikon’s best film body and one of its best wide angle zooms? What about the LC-Wide and the UWS?

There are benefits to pro lenses, and to autoexposure systems… there are also benefits to crappy plastic lenses.

A couple of days later, just before sunset, I walked outside and pointed the cameras at the view off the deck, roughly to the south. How do the cameras handle landscapes? I know wide angle photographs should have some foreground interest, but still. With such a view, how could I resist?

Horses for courses, here, and you can see the benefits of pro lenses and auto exposure systems clearly. Also, 17mm is far wider than 22mm, but with no foreground interest, are any of the above even worth looking at?

I’m a bit biased, but I give this round to the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim.

Why? Just check that flare! No apps, no filters, just a crappy plastic lens from a crappy plastic camera that I got for under $50, shipped. (For some unknown reason, the superior Vivitar UWS is cheaper than the also-discontinued SuperHeadz Ultra Wide & Slim, and also gives “better” results.”

Additionally, the UWS gave me almost a whole 39th frame.

In second place… Well… It’s tough. A new Lomo LC-W will set you back a rather astonishing $430; a used FM3a runs about $1000 and the 17-35D runs about $1100 new or $450 used. Sure, the Nikkor lens is far sharper, far more capable, and gives far less distortion than the plastic lens in the LC-W, but at more than 3x the cost? I don’t know… Plus the LC-W can be shot in half-frame mode (which is what it stays in most of the time these days for me), so I guess second place goes to the LC-W.

  1. Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
  2. Lomo LC-W
  3. FM3a/17-35mm f/2.8 D.

Tomorrow: Round 2: Interior scenes with the LC-W, UWS, and Konica WaiWai.

*The cover photo—from the Konica WaiWai—is whole, as the design of the WaiWai has the film wound onto a spindle and effectively rewound into the camera as you shoot. The light leak on the left side is due to a flaw in my copy that renders it very hard to wind and very easy to produce multiple exposures. This was, effectively, the second photo from the roll (there was one before this, made up of at least 4 exposures), for a total of 40, with one partial at the end. So it wins the most-pictures-per-roll contest.

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