Written – 06/07/2023
I’ve been shooting film for 7 years or so and over that time I’ve learned what makes a good camera and what makes a bad one.
The key differences between the Kodak Ultra F9 and the Kodak Ektar H35 are that one of them is a half-frame camera and the other is a full-frame camera. Also, the H35 has a 22mm lens and the F9 has a 31mm lens. Otherwise, there isn’t too much difference, is there?
If you want to see these cameras compared in terms of usability, price and quality then read on!
A Brief History Of These Two Modern Film Cameras
With the resurgence of film photography and most people preferring to use reusable cameras rather than through away disposables, a pretty obvious gap in the market opened up. Amateurs, travellers and partiers would now be able to pick up a very basic, non-disposable camera.
So, on September 20, 2021, the Kodak Ultra F9 was born, an incredibly basic camera that can be bought wholesale from Alibaba, (this is why there are so many other versions of it, like the Ilford Sprite II). This not-so-special camera filled a bit of a gap but let’s face it, there isn’t much to it.
Then, in 2022 a new star was born, the Kodak Ektar H35, a half-frame camera that kind of seems like some thought actually went into it. Looking similar to some of Kodak’s first cameras, (like the Kodak Instamatic), this actually seemed to have been designed and considered.
These really similar cameras, at similar price points, beg the question, what’s the difference? Which, if any is the best?
|Aperture||F9||F – 9.5|
|Focus Range||1M – ∞||1M – ∞|
|Film Transport||Manual wind and rewind||Manual wind and rewind|
|Flash Reload Time||Built-in Flash Push Switch – 15s recycle||Built-in Flash Push Switch – 15s recycle|
|Lens||31mm||22mm – 2 Element (31mm actual)|
|Max Shots Per Roll||36||72|
Now, specs aren’t everything but they give you a really good idea about what the key differences are with these cameras.
Personally, I’d say the shutter speeds and aperture don’t matter at all when it comes to these two cameras, the differences between them a negligible, they really won’t impact your shooting experience or the final image.
What does make a bit of a difference is the lens, the Ultra F9 has a 31mm lens and the Kodak H35 has a 22mm lens. This might seem like a big difference but the Ektar H35 is a half-frame camera, so actually, the lens is more like a 31mm focal length, so they’re effectively the same.
Of course, then you can wonder about the price, which is very slightly different, but at £12 more for the H35 you’re gaining a lot, you’ll be saving a tonne on each roll and the camera is actually different from other new point-and-shoots that are being made today.
The biggest difference is the fact that you can get 72 shots when you’re shooting the Kodak Ektar H35 because it’s a half-frame camera, whereas the Ultra F9 will provide you with the standard 36 shots as a maximum.
As you can see, the Kodak Ultra F9 has a slightly bulky, basic look, which makes sense because it is very basic. I can say with 99% certainty that this has been ordered from a factory that made these camera bodies wholesale already and Kodak just got them customised and added their own accessories.
(I know this because I looked into producing my own film cameras before these came out and they were exactly the same).
This makes for a pretty nothingy design, it’s not exciting and not much thought has gone into it. I can say that I like some of the colourways though and it definitely looks far better than the Ilford Sprite II, which looks like trash.
The Kodak Ektar H35 isn’t necessarily anything special, but when we’re comparing it to the Ultra F9, I think the design is much better. I can tell that they’ve actually had these specifically produced because it resembles the old Kodak Instamatic cameras.
Also, the Ektar H35 is a bit smaller, which is always a great thing for a compact camera. Not to mention, the nifty little way you can turn the outer part of the lens to turn flash on and off, great little additions.
It’s no secret that these are both really easy cameras to use, but I definitely prefer one of these to the other.
The Ultra F9 is simple, you pop the film in, pop your batteries in and you’re good to go, and that’s the same situation with the H35 too.
There is one small difference, to put your flash on, with the Ultra F9 you just push a switch on the front somewhere, nothing special right?
To change turn the flash on with the H35, you need to rotate the outer ring of the lens. I think this is more intuitive, you know where the lens is without looking but you wouldn’t easily know where the flash button is on the F9 without looking.
Otherwise, the shooting experience is basically the same with these cameras, just press the big button on the top.
Ultimately, image quality is what counts. With these two cameras being two of the most simple cameras going, image quality isn’t really at the top of the agenda.
Basically, both of these have very basic, plastic lenses that don’t really produce sharp pictures. Also, you can’t change your settings (other than choosing to put the flash on) so really, there’s very little control when you’re trying to get good shots with these.
That being said, they’re both not so bad for what they are.
The pictures above are from the Kodak H35 and despite the fact that it’s a half-frame camera with a pretty nothingy lens, I’d still say these shots are just fine. I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly bad about them.
These shots above are from the Kodak Ultra F9 and I’d say they’re basically the same as the H35 in terms of quality.
Neither of these cameras are going to give you really sharp pictures or really high-quality shots, they’re going to give you basic shots. As they go, I don’t think either of them are bad and despite the fact that the H35 technically have less quality because it’s a half frame, I think there’s no visible difference.
Obviously, there’s a small difference in price, the Kodak Ultra F9 is about £38 and the Kodak Ektar H35 is about £50. For me, I would pretty much always suggest that you spend that extra £12 and buy the Ektar H35, you’ll literally save that by shooting one roll on it.
You are literally halving your costs with each roll you shoot with the H35, if you shoot Kodak Gold (about £12 a roll and another £8-10 to develop), you’re getting double the amount of shots so you’re halving your cost. You’re effectively getting 2 rolls per roll.
What Do I Think?
The Kodak H35 is the best option, it’s basically the Ultra F9 but you get twice as many shots, it’s a no-brainer.
What Film Is Good To Use For These Cameras?
The ideal film stock for the Kodak Ultra F9 or Kodak Ektar H35 Kodak Ultramax 400 because it’s less expensive than Kodak Portra 400 but it’s the sweet spot for ISO so you should always get a well-exposed shot.
Alternatively, if you’re shooting black and white film then I’d suggest Ilford HP5 as this is 400 ISO film and really affordable!
How To Get The Best Pictures With These Cameras
These cameras are pretty stupid, you can’t change any settings and the lenses are low quality. So sometimes it can be easy to make basic mistakes and ruin your pictures. That’s why you need to know how to get good pictures with them every time!
Keep People At Arms Length
These cameras can only focus from 1 meter to infinity. So basically, if you are any closer than 1 meter to your subject then your subject will not be in focus!
You have to keep people just a bit further away than arm’s length in order to be sure that you’ll have your subject in focus! Most of us are used to using more modern cameras that can focus more closely, so we have to be reminded that these cameras are stupid!
Use Your Flash
Because you can’t adjust the shutter speed or aperture for these cameras, you need to be aware of when to use your flash!
Any time you’re in ‘low light’ you want to use your flash. Low light is when you’re indoors, it’s dusk or dawn or you find yourself outside in a dimly lit area. You’ll get used to knowing when to use your flash, but it’ll save you from a lot of underexposed shots!
Take Your Time
You need to take your time with these cameras because the shutter speed is only 1/120. This means that there’s a chance that you could take a blurry shot if you’re not taking your time.
Just remember, bring your camera up to take a shot, hold it for a few seconds, and then you can put it back down. If you do this too quickly then you’ll definitely ruin your shot!
Aim For The Middle Of The Lens
Because the lenses on these cameras aren’t very good, you’ll want to get your subject in the middle of the frame to ensure that they’re in focus. Often low quality cameras have lenses that have really soft focus around the edges, so if you try to keep your subject near the middle then you’ll be more likely to get a sharper shot!
How To Use Them?
Sadly, I’ll just have to describe rather than show it as I no longer have these cameras.
First, you’ll want to open up the back of your camera, there should be a small catch/switch on the side which will make the back pop open. Then once it’s open you’ll see that on one side there is a space and on the other, there is a spool.
Simply place the film into the side with the space and then pull the camera film across to the spool. Once you’ve done this then you can attempt to wind it on by using the winder on the top right-hand side (you may need to press the shutter button to ensure that it’ll wind on).
Once you can see the film is winding on, then you’re good to go, close the backup and you can start taking pictures!
How To Take A Picture
You simply press the shutter button on the top to take a picture, then once you’ve taken it you can wind the film on and you’ll be good to take another one.
For the Ultra F9, there’s a small switch on the front that you can flick in order to make the flash engage so you’ll be able to use your flash!
For the Kodak Ektar H35, you can rotate the outer ring surrounding the lens to engage flash!
When You’ve Finished Your Roll Of Film
When you’ve finished your roll of film you need to unwind it before you open your back up. There may be a small release button on the bottom of the camera that you need to press (I can’t remember). If so, press it and then you can begin winding the film back using the winder on the top left.
Keep winding until it starts to feel noticeably loose and then wind some more for good measure. Then you can open your back up and your film should be wound back into the film cannister!
What Kind Of Photography Are These Cameras Best For?
Both of these cameras are basically the ideal replacement for disposable cameras. They’re best for lifestyle, day-to-day, travel and festivals. If you’re a casual photographer and you just want nice film photos then this camera is for you!
Ultra F9 Sample Shots
Samples From The Kodak Ektar H35
You really just want to pick up the Kodak Ektar H35 and forget about the Kodak Ultra F9.