By Suridh Hassan
There I was in Seattle, the Shot On Film Store trying my hardest to get my Nikon FE2 fixed. It wasn’t happening. The drop it took killed the electrics and after some conversations I left with a personal fave, a Nikon FM.
On the way out, I remembered a conversation with a friend about cameras under $20. I could not help myself. I went right back to the counter and asked the guy ‘hey, got anything that works that isn’t too beat-up, has relatively clean functioning parts and under $20?’ His eyes lit up. When it comes to gear, I know that look. He headed straight over to the budget bin of cameras (which is more like a massive table) and starts to dig. The sounds of clicks, whirrs, hums and aahs takes over. He was clearly having a good time looking for some well-used gear that muggins over here will happily part money for.
A few mins later, he emerges with a Toyoca-S and assures me, it works. So $18 USD poorer (but with 2 free rolls of film – cheers lads!) I walked out with another camera.
The Camera Gods
Now it’s gotta be said, I don’t think I walked out with a bargain here, but I believe the world turns in mysterious ways. Getting home, I downloaded the the manual, did some basic research on my new, pre-loved Toyoca-S and found it originated in a small Japanese midlands-type city called Toyohashi. This stopped me in my tracks as I know this random part of Japan well. Toyohashi is where my business partner of more than 15 years is from – amazing! I thanked the camera gods for a dose of serendipity and bringing me another camera with a great backstory.
I grabbed the cheapest film I had, a roll of Arista EDU 400 because for me it’s a film that has a lot of character, but what a pain it was loading the film. I’m sure more experienced film shooters will laugh at me as I happily bare my ignorance and tell you all that you have to do is strangely catch the film in the right place on a nearly invisible groove. I wasted a good few shots just loading the damn thing but then once it was loaded, I was ready.
As I was in the midst of relocating from Seattle, USA to Jakarta, Indonesia, I figure some ‘in transit’ shots would be perfect for this tiny camera. Sadly, that didn’t happen as travelling across the world, with a ton of life, gear and family in tow means me taking pictures was pretty low on the wife’s priority list.
All the shots you see here were taking over a 48-hour period, starting in Seattle where I lived for a couple years and ending, somewhere in transit in Tokyo, about 3am waiting for a connecting flight to Jakarta.
In terms of usage, as a predominately video shooter who’s come back to the 35mm fold, using the Toyoca-S is fun. It’s small, lightweight and to a certain extent, does not really feel like a camera to me. This isn’t bad, or good, it’s just I can forget this piece of kit is in my bag. The way you wind the film on means it’s easy to capture double exposures and the overall process of focusing on an area, using my own eye, brain and skills to take pictures is enjoyable. I’m too lazy to carry a light meter and the Toyoca-S slows me down to a snails pace which forces me to live in the moment just a little bit more.
Thanks for reading and the original article I wrote for one of my favourite blogs 35mmc and you can read the original here.