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Alfie Tych (Pic: David Faulkner/Kickstarter)
The camera comes with up to four lenses selected via a rotary dial (Pic: David Faulkner/Kickstarter)

A new 35mm half-frame camera project is poised to meet its funding target on Kickstarter four days after its launch at The Photography Show (TPS) in the UK.

The Alfie Tych was launched at the event by its inventor Dave Faulkner, and at time of writing had reached 97% of its £27,000 goal.

The camera is a small 35mm half-frame camera featuring no less than three lenses: an f/8 plastic meniscus lens, an f/56 ‘zone sieve’ for soft-focus shots and an f/125 pinhole. These are selected via a rotary dial.

Premium models of the camera also come with a two-element f/8 glass lens.

The camera has an integrated light meter and an electronically controlled shutter, meaning it can be used in aperture-controlled mode, but also has a manual mode for those wanting more creative control.

Kosmo Foto inspected one of the pre-production models Faulkner brought with him to TPS (which finishes on Tuesday). This batch of pre-production fully working prototypes include some that were given to a small batch of testers ahead of the Kickstarter launch.

The camera does look and feel very different to small digital compacts, with some of the Tych’s electronic wiring visible through the camera’s digital display.

Two versions of Tych (Pic: David Faulkner/Kickstarter)
The premium version includes a two-element f/8 lens (Pic: David Faulkner/Kickstarter)

The Tych is available for as little as £275 for the three-lens model, with the four-lens version available for £449.

How long have you been working on this?
“I started working on a camera idea in the early summer of 2021, things soon crystallised into a concept for the Alfie Tych in August of 2021.”

What was the original inspiration?
“The original inspiration were some amazingly cool pinhole cameras by a South Korean watchmaker @3hands_studio. He makes intricate timepieces, automatons and beautiful pinhole cameras. Check out the “heartbeat” camera.”

Talk us through the different lenses on the camera.
“The standard camera comes with 3 lenses. An f/8 meniscus lens gives great images lovely and sharp in the center which drops off in the corners. Then we have an f/125 0.2mm pinhole. There’s also an f/56 zone sieve lens, this gives you pinhole style images with extra bloom on the highlights.

Alfie Tych (Pic: Stephen Dowling)
The camera was designed to be as small as possible (Pic: Stephen Dowling)

“The premium camera comes with a two-element f/8 periscopic landscape lens which does a great job of correcting the image corners. This lens has been developed for us by US lens design Jason Lane.

“The pinhole-based lenses are both 25mm focal length and provide whilst the f/8 lenses are both very close to 32mm focal length and are fixed focus from 1.5m (5ft) to infinity.”

Why half frame?
“The decision to design a half frame camera was primarily due to the availability of shutters. Options are few and far between and those that are readily available are generally designed for small sensor digital cameras. So covering half frame is possible but anything larger gets challenging.

“Also, half frame is so much fun to shoot and with the current cost of film a great way to make shooting film a little easier on the wallet.”

How difficult has it been packing all the features into a camera so small?
“I have spent my career designing small electromechanical medical devices so whilst challenging it has not been as difficult as it could have been. I have tried to keen the mechanical design simple and elegant to minimise the risk of mechanical failures.”

What modes does the camera feature?
“There is a fully manual mode where you can control the shutter from 30 seconds to 1/250th sec. Even a bulb mode if you want to do super-long exposures.

“Then we have three auto modes (one for each of the lens apertures), this is done using a reflective meter on the front of the camera. It effectively give you aperture priority shooting and you have exposure compensation +/- two stops in auto mode.

“You can adjust the camera settings to tell it what ISO film you have loaded from 12 through to 6400.

Alfie camera in front of video monitor (Pic: Stephen Dowling)
The new camera was launched at The Photography Show in Birmingham in the UK on Saturday (Pic: Stephen Dowling)

“There’s even a shutter delay mode so you can eliminate camera shake on a tripod or get yourself in frame with some selfies.”

You’ve said you want the camera to look different to modern cameras. Why?
“I wanted to make a camera that had a unique look and even a conversation starter. The aesthetic gives homage to the vintage camera whilst also offering a few unique touches. The watch glass window on top lets you see into the soul of the camera whilst the rotary lens selection is a joy to interact with. Oh, and I always wanted a camera with a shoe-mounted viewfinder so that was the first bit I designed, they just look so cool.”

How many are you hoping to build?
“Whatever quantity of cameras we get backed with we will almost certainly double. We need to build stock to allow us to continue to sell the camera and making in volume is the best way to bring our manufacturing costs down. If we can find the right partners then after the Kickstarter we want to tackle wholesale and retail markets.”

What will the camera retail for?
“After we have delivered to Kickstarter backers the camera will likely retail at £299 for the base model and £499 for the premium optics version.

Is this the start of a family of cameras?
“Yes, we want to build a sustainable business so this is very much the first in a family of cameras. The next two ideas are already on the drawing board but we need to concentrate on getting this one into production first.”

The Alfie Tych Kickstarter runs until 17 October.

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Stephen Dowling
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