A day at Disneyland inspired by the Casuaphotophile’s review of the camera from 2018 (https://casualphotophile.com/2018/11/16/fujifilm-natura-s-black-f19-review/).
Disclaimer: This isn’t a full review, it’s more of an overview of my thoughts on using the camera at Disneyland Hong Kong. I used one roll of Kodak Gold 200 and half a roll of Lomography color 400.
Being exclusively released and sold in Japan from 2001 to 2006 the Natura was sold as a companion camera to Fujifilm’s Natura 1600 35mm film for night photography. Boasting a maximum aperture of f1.9, a wonderful 24mm lens, and tiny body, it’s been coveted by camera collectors around the world for its form, function, and design.
Morning to Afternoon: Kodak Gold 200
The day began by loading the film into the camera, simple easy and quick. You literally plop the film canister into the camera and the camera automatically winds the film counting the frames in the process.
It was a beautiful morning, blue skies, windy, and super sunny. However, that made me worry. A part of me was scared the bright sunlight might prove to be too much for the camera’s limited fast shutter speed and mysterious smallest aperture.
No one on the internet seems to know the camera’s smallest aperture. I know it gets smaller in bright conditions but I am not sure how small it can actually get and how well the camera limits light intake. I was worried that the bright sunlight would cause all the images to be over exposed…they were… but not by a lot.
The SUPER-EBC FUJINON LENS 24mm takes wonderfully toned and sharp images. Not to mention the 24mm field of view (my favorite focal length) is great for almost anything. Take a look at this selfie taken at the line for the It’s a Small World ride. Though a little overexposed, it is still worthy of praise *chef’s kiss*
In It’s a Small World, the camera underperformed in hindsight. Meaning there was a disconnect between the image in my head and the actual image scanned. Being on a moving ride for lowlight images proved a bit too much even for this f1.9 beast.
Shooting still at 1/30th of a second shouldn’t be an issue for the camera as it’s light and small enough to be held stably but when you’re on a boat ride of twist an turns, it’s slightly more difficult.
Like most other automatic exposure cameras, you have the to ability to do an AE lock (Auto Exposure Lock) by pointing the camera to a spot and half pressing the shutter. A minor issue I have with this camera is, I have no idea where the light meter is. I assume it’s in the center of the eye piece and pointing the center to a spot will take an internal light reading but again, I am not entirely sure…
There was one shot I tried to get a few times with Lauren (my girlfriend) on the ride. I wanted to capture a silhouette of her with the backdrop of the psychedelic landscape of It’s a small world. After three tries of getting an exposure lock on the right spot, and intense listening and feeling for the leaf shutter for the correct shutter speed, I knew I had a photo I’d like on my hands.
Where the camera really stood out was in the shade, during sunsets, or wherever I could use the flash.
The flash supplies each image with a punch, giving that nostalgic flash photography look impossible to emulate on a digital camera. Colors are rendered beautifully, and the separation between the in and out-of-focus areas are graciously rendered with the f1.9 lens.
I don’t know what it is but this camera makes me want to use the flash, or at least not mind at all when I forget to switch off the auto-flash function. A feeling I’ve never experienced with any digital camera that had a built in flash.
After coming out of the Lion King show at 2:30pm, the sun got less intense marking the arrival of the afternoon. The over all mood at the park seemed to slow down, photo taking was limited, we were both due for a nap, and the images show that.
However, the afternoon tones and colors produced by this lens and Kodak Gold 200 were simply beautiful, evoking the memories of childhood photographs taken on the same film stock and the point & shoots of the late 90’s.
The afternoon marked the end of this roll of Kodak Gold 200. I really like the warmth and toned down level of vibrancy of this stock. It’s not overly saturated and handled the blown out areas of skies with a nice glide back into deep blues. The next roll we used was the Lomography Color Negative 400.
Tip 1/2: Get a camera holster
I don’t think there’s any other way to use this camera than with a holster on your hips. The ability to pull the camera out at any moment has quickly made the Natura one of my favorite cameras to bring out. In addition you look cool as f***.
Because of its size and weight you barely even notice it holstered to your belt. I had the camera on me on every ride I went on and I never had a doubt about the safety of the camera.
Afternoon to Night: Lomography Color Negative 400
We had initially wanted to ride the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car but it was closed for the afternoon. Additionally, a sudden surge in people at the park convinced us to use the afternoon as a rest period. We had gone on all the rides we wanted to go on and were exhausted. We sat, walked, ate, and sat again.
As we walked out of Grizzly Gulch we realized there was one thing we had yet to do…a couple’s photo by the Disney Castle. Wanting to avoid the crowds and asking people to take a photo for us, we decided to get creative. Using the self-timer and a rubbish bin as a platform, we managed to get a couple’s photo which we believed captured the afternoon mood.
As the sun began to set and our dinner reservation drew closer, we decided to stroll around Main Street and Tomorrow Land.
I know it’s called the Moonlight Camera (月光機) in Chinese and Japanese, but man, it handles the afternoon brilliantly too. Everything is so pleasantly exposed and despite the 24mm wide angle lens, the separation of the subject and background is nothing short of perfection.
I simply have nothing to add because all the images turned out exactly as I had imagined, and maybe even better (minus the graininess — I’ll get to that later).
After our dinner, we decided to beat the park’s closing time at 7:30pm for a few last rides on the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car ride which had reopened. Boy oh boy, did we capture some fantastic photos to mark the end of our trip to Disneyland.
As I entered the ride, the camera was inconspicuously holstered to my belt and as the ride began, I took the camera out of the pouch and secured it to my wrist. The following photos showcase just how capable of a camera this little point and shoot is.
There’s not a single shot from the ride I didn’t like. Everything was shot perfectly.
Lomography Color Negative 400
Although the Lomography Color Negative film doesn’t have the same nostalgic feeling and smooth transitioning of tones as the Kodak Gold. This film stock has quickly become one of our favorites for its high-contrast, poppy colors and vibrancy, adding energy and life into the photos.
My only reservation with this film stock is its sharpness. At ISO400 it seems to be handling the grain rather poorly compared to other ISO400 film stocks. It’s not really an issue when viewing the image on a phone but is very noticeable when viewed on a larger screen. However, what it lacks in sharpness, it makes up for with its lively characteristics.
Tip 2/2: Get a camera strap
Not the ones that go around your neck, the ones that loop around your wrists. I know, I know it’s not pretty but trust me getting a wrist strap has improved the Natura experience greatly. In addition to the camera being holstered to your waist at all times, you now have an easier way to pull it out and safely secure it from dropping out of your hands
Take this image for example. Had I not had the wrist strap on, the camera would’ve surely fallen on to the track. The strap saved the camera, and you never know, one day it might even save you too…
There’s no reason not to get a strap. It’s cheap, improves your experience, and you never know when it might come in handy on a camping trip or when you’re the sole survivor of a plane crash. Already being so lightweight, you might not even notice you had a camera strapped to your arms.
Point and shoots have always had a bad reputation after years of shi**y and cheap cameras flooding the market. To call the Fujifilm Natura just a point and shoot pains me, as it is so much more. This is a camera that has its place in my collection because it fills a nice little niche that none of my other cameras can fill. Each image has so much character and feels so genuine, and if there’s a photo I don’t like I can always blame it on being just a point and shoot. If you’re in the market for a film camera that you won’t be disappointed by, this might be the one for you.