Olympus AF Tele Point and Shoot

For the last couple of years, I’ve kept an Olympus Infinity Twin point and shoot with me on most days, either in my pocket or in my work bag. Also known as the AF Twin in some markets, it’s been my preferred “every day carry” camera for the last few years.

However, I’ve noticed that recently the Infinity Twin has started to become more finicky than usual. It takes a few more tries to get the gears to catch the film when loading and the motor just sounds… old.

In anticipation for the day my Infinity Twin eventually does make the trip up to camera heaven, I started testing out other point and shoots attempting to find a new potential daily carry. A few other models I tested out were the Ricoh R1 and a Pentax IQzoom 700.

The Ricoh was tiny and really pocket-able. The lens on the R1 was sharp, but in comparison, it only had one focal length to the Infinity’s two. Where the Pentax fell short was that it is too much of a behemoth to tote around easily.

What really draws me to the Infinity Twin is its bi-axial lens system that allows you to toggle between 35mm and 70mm at the tap of a button. I also really like Olympus’s clam-shell design- it allows me to throw the camera in my bag without the worry of snags, misfires, or scratches on the front elements.

While these are a few of the design positives, the Infinity is far from perfect. The lenses aren’t very sharp, there’s a fair amount of distortion on the 35mm and vignetting at 70mm. Also, you’re definitely not sneaking up on anyone shooting with an AF Twin. The sequence of whirring sounds emitted from the gears advancing when you press the shutter is like a Terminator robot taking a piss.

Indentical… twins?

Back to the problem at hand. I decided to be proactive and look for a replacement before it left me high and dry. I set an alert on eBay with the keywords “new” and “Infinity Twin” hoping to find one in decent condition that could last me a few more years. This gets increasingly more difficult the farther away we travel from the heyday of analog and steady production of film cameras

Many of the Infinity Twins from the alert were in rough shape, but one also popped up was a “new in box” old stock Olympus Infinity Tele. I had never heard of an “Infinity Tele” before but damned if it didn’t look like a literal twin… of the AF Twin. Pun intended.

After a few minutes of Googling, I found out that the Infinity Tele is actually the newer iteration of the Infinity Twin by a few years. Aside from a lack of weather resistance, it appeared to be identical in size, features, and functions.

SOLD.

When the Tele arrived it was obvious that this was a used camera, but in typical eBay fashion listed as new because it had the original packing. Even with the seller mislabeling the condition it was still in very good shape otherwise with minimal signs of wear. This is the price we have to pay for shooting discontinued film cameras, I suppose.

The morning that I decided to take the Tele out for a test drive, it must not have been feeling all that agreeable. Loading a roll of Tmax 3200 took three tries before it finally caught and registered on the LCD that it was ready to go.

Two of those times the camera actually spooled the leader onto the take-up side but displayed a flashing ‘E’. To correct it, I ended up having to yank a few frames off of the advance reel pulling the film backward as the motor whined in pain. Serves it right for not loading my Tmax correctly the first time.

I’ve been here before

It may sound concerning to have a camera that you just purchased give you problems loading the film from the start But to be honest, this actually wasn’t a surprise. My Infinity Twin would do the same thing on occasion. I think it’s something inherent to the design of these cameras. They’re so small and compact, and for whatever reason don’t always catch the sprocket holes of the film the first few times.

After all the drama was finished, I took a quick trip downtown with the Tele to see how well the meter would expose some rainy city scenes.

Testing the Infinity Tele

The video below picks up from here and goes on to talk about how I rated and developed the roll of Tmax:

YouTube player

I’m happy to report that aside from the snafu with loading it, I think everything functioned alright, and I now have a solid backup for the day that the Infinity Twin decides to throw in the towel.

Here are a few images from the outing. No prize-winning shots, but the purpose was to test the meter and operation of the Tele.


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Kodak Portra 35mm Film (5 pack)
Tmax 400 (35mm, 5 Rolls)
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Tmax 400 (120, 5 Rolls)

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