Ditch Digital and Travel Back in Time to the 1980s With the New Kodak Ektar H35N

Ditch Digital and Travel Back in Time to the 1980s With the New Kodak Ektar H35N

Retro never truly disappears. The Kodak Ektar H35N half-frame camera evokes memories high school parties and youth summer camps. But is this plastic fantastic or missing the mark? I ran some film through it to find out.

First Impressions of the Camera

There are two opposing trends in photography. The first is the pursuit of ever-sharper, technically perfect images, and the other embraces the freedom to ignore commonly held expectations. The Kodak Ektar H35N is a camera that fits into the latter bracket.

Although I spent the latter half of my teen years in the 1980s, it’s an era that I remember with warm nostalgia. Overall, I think the music was better in the 1960s and 70s, albeit with a couple of exceptions. The 80s Memphis Design movement didn’t enthrall me either, and those hairdos were dreadful. However, I understand that, for many, the 1980s were a decade remembered with warm fondness. Oddly, millennials seem to like that decade too.

There is something reminiscent of the 1980s about this camera. It’s the combination of its plastic body and the shiny metallic front plate available in various colors that would fit with the color palette of the time.

It’s a true point-and-click camera. It is simple but is it too simple? To use it, one must have a reasonable understanding of exposure as there are no exposure controls. Have too fast a film loaded and you are going to be over-exposing. I loaded ISO 200 film and needed the right conditions to use it. A novice photographer may not be aware of that.

It is a half-frame 35mm camera. That means you load a reel of 36-exposure, 35mm film, and you end up with 72 pictures.

Instead of each frame being 3 x 2, they are 3 x 4, slightly taller than wide. Thus, an ideal aspect ratio for portraits; in my opinion, 3 x 2 rarely sits comfortably in portrait orientation, looking too tall and narrow. One could argue that the reverse is true for landscapes, with the wider aspect of 3 x 2 being better, but I also like the tallness of 3 x 4 that is achieved by rotating the camera by 90°. This is entirely subjective, and you are welcome to hold your own belief if it differs, but it is something to be aware of.


On top, there is a shutter button, plus a provision to attach an old-fashioned remote trigger that will give you bulb mode. There’s also a frame counter.

At the front, there is a 22mm f/8 two-element lens; one of the elements is glass. Being half-frame, it will give you the same field of view as a 44mm lens on a 35mm full frame camera. You can slide the ring surrounding the lens to activate the flash and a switch slides a star filter in front of the lens. There’s also a viewfinder set at about one o’clock above the lens.

At the base of the camera is a tripod mounting screw socket and the film rewinding controls.

The viewfinder is located close to the lens, thus reducing parallax error.

To load the film, you open the door via the latch on the side of the camera. You pop the film in, wind it on, and away you go!

My first impressions of the camera were that its low cost was reflected in its quality. However, once I put in the film – I used one of my rolls of 36-exposure Kodak Gold 200 – that would give me 72 exposures and fitted an AAA battery for the flash, it felt much more substantial.

Taking Test Shots

Shooting with a film camera is very different from digital and using an inexpensive compact point-and-shoot is worlds away from a flagship mirrorless camera. I loved it!

Between receiving the camera and starting to shoot, I fell off a rock and couldn’t walk for a few days. On top of that, we have had the worst spring and early summer weather I can remember. So, getting out with it has been a challenge. However, with my foot bandaged and taking a dose of Ibuprofen, I slipped the camera into my shirt pocket and finally got through all 72 frames.

I’ve always found small point-and-shoot cameras fun to use. It’s such a far cry from shooting with a flagship mirrorless camera it’s liberating.

Using the in-built flash.

With the viewfinder so close to the lens you can see the edge of the lens mount when composing a shot. At first, I found this disconcerting, but then I realized it had an advantage. It is a useful reminder to adjust the framing slightly so that the lens points directly at the subject.

Star filter activated.

The camera was light and fun.

The Kodak Multi-Purpose Camera Strap

I also acquired to go with the camera a Kodak Multi-Purpose Camera Strap. This versatile and well-designed strap proved a good design for lighter small cameras. It works over the shoulder or around the neck and can be attached to a single anchor point, like that on the H35N camera or a smartphone. However, it can also be anchored to double anchor points using the Kodak QD Snaplocks supplied with the strap. They are also available separately. It does come with a useful attachment for your mobile phone.

I probably wouldn’t use it with my OM-1, but the strap would suit smaller cameras. It’s secure with a quick-release mechanism requiring a deep push of the button to separate it from the strap, so it is unlikely to be detached unintentionally.

The Results

Being in the UK, B&H’s excellent developing service wasn’t available to me so I used my favorite service, filmprocessing.co.uk.

The results were pretty good for a cheap film camera. For those interested in Lomography, this camera is a great entry-level option.

With hindsight, I probably should have bought some ISO 100 film as the 200 I had at hand was a little too fast for some outdoor shots, but when I used the built-in flash, the exposures were spot on. ISO 100 film would also be less grainy, which would have been advantageous for the half-frame size of the negatives.

On some images a softness could be seen at the corners of the frame. This seemed more evident on close-up shots.

Nevertheless, the pictures were acceptable, but with one caveat. There’s a tradeoff when you throw the star filter switch. It softens the images, making them appear out of focus. There were a couple of shots where I forgot to switch it off.

Wiht the star filter left switched on accidentally.

What I Liked and What Could Be Improved

What I Liked


  • Affordable.
  • Gives you 72 exposures out of a 36-exposure film.
  • Neat design.
  • Easy to use.
  • Acceptable quality results or a point-and-shoot camera.
  • Small enough to slip in a shirt pocket.
  • A good option for Lomography.


  • Affordable
  • Versatile design.
  • Strong Construction
  • Looks Smart
  • Secure.

What Could Be Improved Next Time


  • A version with zoom, ISO adjustment, and no star filter would be useful.
  • It would benefit from an indicator in the viewfinder that the star filter is activated.


  • Although the anchors seem secure, and I couldn’t accidentally release them, a failsafe dual-action release would give me more confidence.

With the star filter left switched on accidentally.

In Conclusion

This little Kodak EKTAR H35N camera grew on me the more I used it. For image quality, it doesn’t hold a candle to a film SLR, but I would not expect that because the lens is smaller.

I have owned point-and-shoot cameras that give better results. However, those cost a lot more. For example, the Olympus µ (Mju) II I took with me backpacking around the world retails second-hand at more than double the price. Furthermore, sometimes pin-sharp images are not that important. Taking photos that look like they were shot with a point-and-shoot camera in 1984 does appeal.

So, who would want this camera? I can see it becoming popular with artists, students, and children. Photography enthusiasts who want to do something different might also be attracted by it. Plus, I can imagine wedding organizers distributing them to a few guests to shoot photos at the reception because it is better than a disposable camera. It will be a fabulous gift for children to encourage them to get into photography.

The camera is available in a variety of colors from B&H for $64.99

The Multi-Purpose Strap costs $44 on Amazon

Ivor Rackham's picture

A professional photographer, website developer, and writer, Ivor lives in the North East of England. His main work is training others in photography. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being. In 2023 he accepted becoming a brand ambassador for the OM System.

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Looks like fun, Ivor, thanks for the review but is the full frame equivalent of the lens not about 33mm?

Oh, yes. You are right. I have no idea how I managed that although 3 is next to 4 on my keyboard and I had Covid while typing that article. You get 10 extra points and a gold star. Thank you.

p.s. Your gallery is one of my favorites here. Just my cup of tea.

Ooh.. thank you sir!

Looks good. It would be interesting to do a shoot-out with the new Pentax which I'm expecting to be better but is it £400 better?

I guess that depends on what you want. The image quality and lens versatility of the Pentax are completely different, and if that is what you want then the answer is probably yes. Which model are you getting?

I believe Tim is referring to the new (and beautiful) Pentax 17 half-frame camera - I just read a review on PetaPixel. Around $550, I think.

I read about the Ektar H35N a few months ago.
In my opinion, they missed an opportunity when they put in this star filter.
I think they should've given it a second aperture, e.g. an F22, to slide in with this lever. (A heptagonal or nonagonal F22 would produce nice sun stars.)
It would also allow to use higher ISO film without risking a "whiteout" in bright conditions.
With F8 and F22 and a film with ISO400, this toy would become pretty useful.
The Sunny 16 rule says 1/100s and ISO100 works with
Sunny: F8, 2 stops overexposed (the rule says to use F16)
Lightly Cloudy: F8, 1 stop overexposed (the rule says to use F11)
Cloudy: F8, correctly exposed
Overcast F8, 1 stop underexposed (the rule says to use F5.6)
Sunset F8, 2 stops underexposed (the rule says to use F4)
Dusk F8, 3 stops underexposed (the rule says to use F2.8)
With 1/100s, ISO400 and F22 or F8 to choose from, you’d get way better exposure::
Sunny: F22, 1 stop overexposed (instead of F8, 4 stops overexposed)
Lightly Cloudy: F22, correctly exposed (instead of F8, 3 stops overexposed)
Cloudy: F22, 1 stop underexposed (instead of F8, 2 stops overexposed)
Overcast F8, 1 stop overexposed
Sunset F8, correctly expose
Dusk: F8, 1 stop underexposed
With F22 instead of the star filter to slide in, I had bought one.

Thanks, all good points.

this is a great article and how fucking refreshing to not have it be written by an AI and be designed simply to be as long as possible so that I have to scroll past ads. it was actually entertaining and informative.

No Fstoppers articles are written by AI, all by real people. Glad you enjoyed it. I would appreciate it if you could remove the profanity from your comment as children read these articles. Thanks

One mistake... The 22mm lens is equivalent to roughly 31mm on a full frame, not 44mm. Half-frame has a crop factor of 1.41, not 2. Each frame is half the AREA of full-frame, but the crop factor is about diameter, not area, so the crop factor is the square root of 2.

yes, it was a typo, as per Ignace Maenhaut van Lemberge's comment earlier. Well spotted.

Silly nostalgia to take your money. Half frames went out of style decades ago... And for good reason

Yet they are becoming more popular.

A very decent review for a fairly expensive hobby...by that I mean processing prices....there is always a lot of hype about that "special film look" that is widely emulated and for many a good reason to stay with film...I do have a few analog SLR cameras sitting in my bookshelf, but used for decoration purpose only...I read you are closely connected to the OM system...as I am also by using my all time favorite point and shoot, the Olympus TG6...a very unique photography experience similar to what you mentioned in this review, but a lot cheaper...in the long run...