I began to think I might have a problem with collecting cameras when I found myself accidentally buying them. Not accidentally as in I didn’t intend to buy a camera and wound up changing my mind and doing it anyway. But a real, true accident in that I found myself buying lots of cameras on eBay. Anything you find worth having when you buy a lot of cameras is almost certainly an accident. The odds are definitely not in your favor.
Sometimes, it works out. I got a Polaroid SLR680 in a lot. The camera worked great, and only recently became cranky. It’s currently out for a CLA and leather replacement. Expect a good look at it when it comes back.
Most of the time, however, you end up with cameras like this: The Kodak Star 335.
There’s not a lot of information out on the internet about this camera. Mostly, it seems to be a pretty common thrift store find. That seems to be about the depth of interest people have in it. The best descriptive word that comes to mind is: uninspiring.
The Kodak Star 335 was introduced in 1990 and made until 1994. The list price for this camera was $49.95 when it was introduced, and that was a bit of a stretch, I think. For the price, this camera did not offer a lot of features. And by not a lot of features, I mean almost none.
The advertising literature called it a “focus free” camera. This is marketing speak for fixed focus. It wasn’t auto-focus, it didn’t do anything for you, there just wasn’t an option to do any focusing. If I had to guess, and from the total absence of any information about the camera I will have to guess, I’d say it was a simple plastic lens of about f8 or f11. It is labeled an Ektanar lens, but I think the only thing it has in common with the older lenses of that name is that it’s attached to a camera with the name “Kodak” on the outside of it. The shutter speed sounds to be the typical plastic camera speed of 1/60th. It has a sticker inside indicating it “Uses Kodak film” but it also uses other brands. Shhhh, it’s a secret.
The front of the camera is a clam-shell lens cover. A red switch next to the front of it controls the flash. Your only creative input is flash on or flash off. The flash on mine works, but I do not like the results, so that test was the only time I used it. When you put the pair of AA batteries in it to run the flash, the weight of the camera more than doubles. It is made of the finest plastic that Thailand could offer in the early nineties, and is at last light to carry. The ergonomics are the typical blocky 90s as well. Very retro chic!
It does the job well enough, though. It’s a good contrast on the way cameras have changed over the years. It’s reliable as a brick. I’m willing to bet none of the little digital point and shoots will be working this well when they are twenty or so years old.
Mostly I keep it to remind me that buying lots is not all it’s cracked up to be. You can find some really great bargains in lots of cameras. But mostly, you don’t.