The Olympus AF-1 Infinity - The good, the bad and the meh.

The Olympus AF-1 is a point and shoot that came out around 1986. It's boxy as hell and sports a sliding lens cover, similar to the XA. It also has a 35mm f2.8 Zuiko lens which is purportedly sharp, though I'm not sure mine has convinced me that it is. More on that, later. As the "AF" in the name implies, it features auto-focus and everything on this camera is totally automatic, including the flash, which you cannot turn on/off. For more specs, visit Camerapedia

I've only put one roll through this camera and it was largely a test roll. It hung out with me in the car for a couple weeks and made a couple of trips on my bike during my morning workout. So here are some first impressions. 

The Good

Aesthetically speaking, I love the look and "chunk" of this thing. It has a very 80's vibe going on with its sliding lens cover, bulbous viewfinder, and boxy physique. Also, it doesn't hurt that it kind of matches my Dodge Charger. 

It also manages its flash decently well. It doesn't seem to blow things out. Even when it went off and I thought that I had enough available light and I didn't agree with the flash being triggered, it seemed to manage the flash just fine. That said, it's still a point and shoot flash, but a decent one at that.

It's capable of getting a well-exposed shot*. Why an asterisk? Well, in order to achieve this well exposed shot, there are a few situational factors that must line up. More on that in the "Bad" section of this review. 

The portability of this camera is fantastic, it slips in a pocket, car console, and it even fits perfectly in my bike's saddle bag, ready for an early morning ride.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there's a few things about this camera that are less than rave-worthy. Let's start with the biggest issue I've had with this camera - lens flare and glare. 

Yes, I know. I'm shooting into the sun here and that's a big no-no but I have plenty of other cameras where I can do just that and still get a serviceable image. You cannot with this guy. In fact, you need by very conscious of sun rays hitting the lens because, even when not shooting into the sun, even reflected light can wreak havoc on the exposure.

Here, the sun was basically directly above me, and not in direct line with the lens. Even still, I had to heavily rely on the "Dehaze" tool in Lightroom to recover this photo from being a washed-out mess. 

Lastly, I just haven't experienced this lens being all that sharp, and it's overall optics are in question. 80% of the roll had significant vignetting and about 50% had noticeable softness - though I'm not sure if that's attributable to the lens optics or the AF.

The Meh

The AF is reliable, for the most part, however, I had about 3 or 4 exposures out of 36 where there was a clear center subject in the photo and it just missed focus, usually, only slightly.

The other issue, which is more of a user error than anything, is the amount of times I put my finger in front of the lens. Because of the sliding lens cover, I tend to leave my finger on that piece when I take the photo. If your finger overhangs even in the slightest, you're screwed, and there's not a ton of phalangeal real estate there.

The Final Verdict

This little guy is too convenient and too funky not to keep around for at least a couple more rolls before I decide if it stays or goes. It's my only point and shoot at the moment and I'm not convinced that it will be the one I hang on to. But I will give it a fair shake at impressing me, though it hasn't yet. 

Have experience with this camera? Let me know what you think of it in the comments!