An epic battle between two premium and compact all stars: the Fujifilm Klasse and the Fujifilm Klasse S! How much would you pay for a premium compact camera? $200? $500? $1000? Last year I bought not one, but two premium compact cameras, both made by the same manufacturer in the 21st century.
I am of course talking about the Fujifilm Klasse and the Fujifilm Klasse S. I shot two rolls of film side by side with these cameras to see if there was any difference in image quality. The biggest differences between the two cameras is actually the cost and the feature set. Which one is right for you?
The original Fujifilm Klasse was released in 2001 exclusively in Japan.
In Europe and the US, a virtually identical camera made by Fujifilm was sold under a different name and marketed under a different brand – it was called the Rollei AFM 35. Essentially it was a white label version of the Fujifilm Klasse that was for sale under the Rollei name in those markets.
Fujifilm Klasse specifications
Now if you’re thinking that 2001 was a strange time for Fujifilm to bring out a new camera, just when digital cameras were becoming more and more affordable, just a reminder that 2001 was the peak of demand for colour film sales according to Fujifilm,
In 2001, film still offered much better quality than digital. For example, Nikon’s flagship camera released in 2001 was the Nikon D1X which featured a 5.4 megapixel sensor.
Film sales didn’t start falling significantly until 2004 and 2005, and then from 2006 to 2010 film sales were in freefall.
online from Fujifilm that talks about the development of the original klasse in 2001, let me read you some of what it says.
Fujifilm Klasse: designed for slide film
What I find interesting in Fujifilm’s documentation is that there are two mentions of reversal film. Let’s start by having a look at some of the classic Fuji slide films.
Fujifilm colour reversal films (slide films)
Fujifilm of course being the manufacturer in days gone by of some classic reversal films such as:
- Sensia: general purpose consumer, daylight-type colour reversal film with faithful colour reproduction and fine grain.
- Provia: professional-quality, medium-speed, daylight-type colour reversal film with ultrafine grain, designed to provide medium colour saturation and contrast.
- Astia: provides softer, subdued colours for portraits and fashion.
- Velvia: a quality, medium-speed, daylight-type colour reversal film with ultrafine grain, designed to produce high-contrast images with the highest colour saturation among 100F series films for landscape, nature, commercial, food, and interior applications.
- Fortia: thought to be a variation of Velvia released for cherry blossom season in Japan.
By 2004 the original Klasse camera was discontinued and consumers were finding them hard to find second hand.
Second coming: the Fujifilm Klasse S and Fujifilm Klasse W
Premium compact camera fans didn’t have to wait long for the second coming of the Fujifilm Klasse. They were delighted with not one, but two new Klasse cameras featuring a range of improvements.
The first new model was called the Fujifilm Klasse S: S denoting the standard 38mm lens
The second new model was the Fujifilm Klasse W – w standing for wide with a 28mm lens
original cost of the camera was 89000 yen around 800 USD
In his video review of the Fujifilm Klasse S, photographer Kirk Mastin stated that only around 8000 were made.
Why buy a Fujifilm Klasse S or W?
Launched in 2007, the Fujifilm Klasse S and W are the newest premium compact point and shoot cameras you can buy.
In contrast, Kyocera ended production of the Contax T range in 2002 – five years before the Klasse S and W were released. The much sought after Contax T2 started production in 1990, meaning that if you pick one up today, it could be up to 30 years old.
Looking back at the Fujifilm colour film sales chart, by 2011 demand was less than 20% of what it was in 2001, and so the Klasse S and W were discontinued in 2012.
What are the similarities between the Fujifilm Klasse and the Fujifilm Klasse S?
- Advanced 35mm compact cameras manufactured by Fujifilm.
- Film format: 135 35mm
- Autofocus: 0.4m to infinity
- Manual focus: with both cameras you can set the focusing distance manually
- original dial on the front
- Klasse S, in the menu system
- The Finder: field of view: 85%
- Aperture: dial with Program, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.
- Power: 1x 3v lithium CR2
- Almost identical in size and weight
- Shooting modes: Program AE, AE Aperture Priority
- Film speed: Auto DX, ISO25-3200
- Metering for both is courtesy of a CdS element with a range of 4 to 16EV (ISO 100)
What are the differences between the Fujifilm Klasse and the Fujifilm Klasse S?
- Lens: although they have the same lens, the original Klasse is a f2.6 lens, and the Klasse S is an f2.8 lens. The difference is due to the different aperture design in the S making it 2.8 rather than 2.6. I’m not sure you’d be able to tell the difference in photos
- The Fujifilm Klasse is 15 grams (half an ounce) lighter than the Klasse S
- The shutter speeds available are slightly different:
- Fujifilm Klasse S: shutter speeds: Bulb, 1/2s to 1/500s at f2.8 and up to 1/1000s at f16.
- Fujifilm Klasse: the top shutter speed at the widest aperture f2.6 is 1/290s.
- The dial on the front of the camera to the left of the lens performs different tasks. On the Klasse, it sets the manual focus distance. On the Klasse S and W, it sets exposure compensation.
- Fujifilm NP mode
Fujifilm’s Natural Photo mode
This can be activated in the menu with films from ISO 800 to ISO 3200. NP mode generates “natural” photos with non-flash shooting. The camera detects the brightness of the subject, and matches the aperture (from 0 to +2EV) according to the brightness.
Should I buy the Klasse or Klasse S / Klasse W?
All three cameras are fantastic, but which one should you buy?
Buy the Klasse if:
- If you prefer to manually set your focus distance – this is easier with the original Klasse.
Buy the Klasse S if:
- If you like to change exposure compensation often – this is easier with the Klasse S. Changing the focusing distance manually can only be achieved via the menu system. You want a self timer – choose either 2 or 10 seconds with the Klasse S.
- You need to use a cable release – there’s a socket on the side of the Klasse S.
- You want to use Fujifilm’s natural photo (NP) mode.
- You want to set the film ISO speed manually.
- You want the film leader to be left out when the camera rewinds the film. Pretty cool huh? You can set this up from the menu.
superia 1600 / natura 1600 – of course they are the same film – natura being the japanese market name and superia being the name used in the USA
coding on the film is identical
called natura because of the natura point and shoots
Film speed – ability to manually set the ISO speed
Klasse S remembers flash settings – the original does not, it forget
in terms of looks and build quality, the klasse s does looks and feel more premium than the original, bit more special
klasse s also has a small petal lens hood – these alone fetch around 100usd on ebay would you believe
What’s are the Klasse cameras like to use?
I really enjoyed using both cameras. They are very compact and light in your pocket. My natural way of shooting is in aperture priority mode, so given my love of point and shoots, the Klasse cameras are perfect.
Set your aperture on the top dial, then shoot. The shutter speed tops out at 1/500 second which isn’t fast enough in some lighting conditions – if that’s the case the shutter speed will flash when you
The only small issue is that there feels like there is a slight shutter lag when you press the button, it doesn’t feel quite as responsive as other cameras I’ve used. I’m nitpicking here though.
Shooting in program mode
With the original Klasse, you have no idea which aperture was used. With the Klasse S/W, it will actually show you on the LED on top of the camera which aperture it used.
Through the viewfinder the Klasse s will blink when it’s going to use a slower shutter speed
Overall I’m very happy with the job then camera has done for exposure
Shot them with no exposure compensation except for a couple of random frames on the Klasse s I shot at plus one by mistake
Focus maybe like 1-2 frames per roll both cameras seem to miss focus
desc of images
how i knew about eachone
during the scans got really cranky
bought the scanner to save money, i can scan 110, 120, 135
Where can you buy a Fujifilm Klasse / Klasse S/W camera?
I bought both my Klasse cameras from eBay. I bought the original Klasse in April 2018
i found the manual thanks to 35mmc
printed it out and started reading it on the plane ride to sydney
we were going down to the vivid festival in late may
as i read the manual, i realised that the dial on the front was not the same as the dial in the manual… and then it dawned on my dear listeners… i’d bought the wrong camera
i actually thought that i’d bought a klasse s… but i bought a klasse original
cautionary tale – always double check what you are buying, that’s actually the second time ive done that would you believe
i was really interested in some of the features like natural photo mode and being able to manually set your ISO, so i actually bought a Klasse S
the most expensive film camera i have by quite some way
kirk mastin review of the klasse s recorded in july 2016 – 450-600 dep condi klasse S
link in show notes
Klasse Original 400 usd
Klasse S a few months later with original box, japanese manual and petal hood for $1000usd
Klasse W was cheaper at around $800 USD – always surprises me as a lot of photograhers always seem to like wider lenses
over the few months that i was looking for these cameras, prices were kinda steady
even in the six months since I bought mine, i’ve noticed a big – in box klasse S selling for around 1400 USD and the Klasse W has climbed o tover 1000usd
you do have to take with a grain of salt – ebay prices – depends on condition, accessories included, whether postage is free or paid, all sorts of factors. unlikely to find any on facebook or at your local garage sale
should you buy a premium compact?
could he have been out shooting cameras? petrol? time?
maybe i was moving more
maybe my subjects were moving
maybe the light changed
Should you buy premium compact?
– Anil don’t have to baby it shoot with it have fun underwater give it to your kids
– other major advantage – No expectuaons – buy
– Maybe that’s where the reputations for theses cameras came from in recent times
– People picked them up for a pound or a dollar
Episode 6 summary
- History of the development of the Klasse camera in 2001
- The Rollei AFM 35 is the same camera
- Fujifilm colour reversal films (slide films)
- 2001: the peak of colour film sales
- Fujifilm Klasse S and Fujifilm Klasse W released in 2007
- Specfications for Fujifilm Klasse and Fujifilm Klasse S
- Similarities and differences
- What they’re like to shoot
- Discussion of the images taken with both cameras (see images below)
- Expectations: the one big reason why a cheap point and shoot is your best friend!
- Weekly roundup
- Kirk Mastin’s review of the Klasse S
- Safelight Berlin review of the Klasse S
- Cameraville review of the Klasse / Rollei AFM 35
Images taken with the Klasse and Klasse S
Check the captions for which camera was used.
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