The Alfie is a 35mm half-frame film camera looking for beta testers

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The Alfie TYCH is a new half-format 35mm film camera developed by a British startup of the same name: Alfie Cameras. The system is currently scheduled to launch in September, and the company is looking for photographers to help beta test it.

Alfie Cameras is a start-up based in Farnborough, UK. The company was founded with the goal of bringing creative film photography cameras to the growing community of film photographers. The camera name “TYCH” is a play on the word diptych, which is often used to refer to linked pairs of photographs taken by half-frame cameras.

Like the Kodak Ektar, the Alfie TYCH is a half frame camera and as such photographers can get over 72 shots per roll of typical 35mm film, but each shot is half the size.

What differentiates the Alfie from the Kodak Ektar is the ability to use a selection of built-in lenses. According to company founder Dave Faulkner, the camera has three built-in lenses: a pinhole lens, an f/8 meniscus lens, and a Zone Sieve lens.

Alfie TYCH

The pinhole lens is made by photoetching (laser cutting and CNC machining were attempted but abandoned), while the f/8 meniscus lens is repurposed from disposable cameras from Analogue Wonderland, in especially the Kodak Funsaver disposable camera. Finally, the Zone Sieve lens is the most complex:

“Zone Sieve lenses are created so that light waves interfere with each other, giving images a rather dreamy look. First, the lens design needs to be created to be a specific pattern that will achieve the desired look,” Faulkner explains to 35mmc. “Then it is photographed with panchromatic film with deep blacks. The most important part is getting the scaling right. This film is then used as a lens and acts as a filter.

The Alfie TYCH has room for a fourth lens, and Faulkner says there are hopes a glass optic could be used there, but that would require a partner to make it. Although one has been identified, it’s a process that’s taking much longer than expected, so it might only appear in a future version of the camera.

Faulkner says each lens offers something unique to the photography process, but they can also be combined for “endless creativity” through multiple exposures, diptychs and panoramas.

The camera has an auto exposure mode for quick shooting work as well as a manual mode to give the photographer full control over the capture, regardless of the film used. The Alfie TYCH uses a USB rechargeable battery and Faulkner says the camera’s near-silent shutter makes it ideal for street photography.

Dave Faulkner and his Alfie TYCH

“I took the things I wanted to see in a half frame camera and squeezed them into a compact design. The Alfie TYCH combines the advantages of modern electronics with the beauty of analog photography,” he says.

The Alfie TYCH will launch as a Kickstarter in September and as such the final price and availability are not yet known. However, before the official launch, the company is looking for beta testers to help refine it before launch. Those interested in becoming a beta tester can register on the Alfie Cameras website.

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