Collecting Cameras

Recent acquisition: Reto Ultra Wide and Slim

After saying a few weeks ago that I’d look for an original Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim on eBay rather than buy the new clone, the Reto Ultra Wide and Slim, I bought the Reto anyway.

Roberts Camera, the camera store in my town, received a batch and priced them at $29. It was easy to say yes at that price.

I’m surprised by how small and light this camera is. At 3 7/8″ x 2 1/4″ x 1″ and 2 1/2 ounces, it is easily the smallest and lightest 35mm camera I own.

It also joins a small, select group of film cameras I’ve owned from new, which includes the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 I reviewed last year, and a couple snapshot cameras I owned as a kid.

I chose the “murky blue” body color. The all-plastic body has a very slight texture to it. A previous Ultra Wide and Slim clone by Superheadz had a rubberized body. I’m under the impression that the original Vivitar’s body was smooth plastic.

The Reto Ultra Wide and Slim features a 22mm lens (hence, “Ultra Wide”). It’s barely thicker than a 35mm film cartridge (hence, “Slim”). If it is an exact clone of the Vivitar camera, its lens is f/11 and its shutter is a fixed 1/125 second. There’s no meter and there’s no flash, so this camera calls for fast film (such as ISO 400) with wide exposure latitude.

Conventional wisdom with the Vivitar version is to stick with 24-exposure rolls of film, as that camera jams on 36-exposure rolls. I’ll assume the same is true of this clone. 24-exposure rolls of color film are becoming hard to find as manufacturers are shifting production entirely to 36-exposure rolls. I have some 24-exposure rolls of ISO 200 color film on hand so that’s what I used. I wish I hadn’t used up the last of my 24-exposure Kodak Ultramax 400 recently.

Loading film into this all-plastic camera highlighted how flimsy it is. It was a little challenging to fit the film cartridge over the film rewind prong as the space for the film cartridge is snug. The winder feels plasticky and turns roughly, with a loud click when it locks the frame.

I’m sure I’ll be able to shoot the roll in this camera quickly, as I’ll easily be able to bring it with me everywhere I go. Look for a review here soon.

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16 thoughts on “Recent acquisition: Reto Ultra Wide and Slim

  1. I picked up an original unused Vivitar version a few years ago, only put one roll of film through it, was surprised how good the results were, very easy to include the ends of your fingers in the shots though. Must pop another roll into it and give it another go when the weather gets a bit better.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    Wonder if they really meant to call it the “Retro” but just lost it in translation. I love this type of thing, but have gotten to the point where I’m trying to divest rather than purchase, so more than happy to read and see your results rather than get one myself!

    • Reto is a strange brand name to be sure. I’m sure I’ll have photos from mine to share soon. The blog is scheduled out through the first of March so probably early March at this rate.

  3. I bought a RETO Ultrawide and Slim a couple of weeks ago but haven’t had chance to put a film through it yet. I’ve also read that the flimsy construction means that it’s safer to use 24exp rolls rather than 36exp as they reduce the tension on the components. I don’t tend to buy 24exp rolls, but I do have a final roll of Agfa Vista Plus 200 which fits the bill. After that I’ll probably have to chance my luck with longer rolls (unless I buy a bulk-loader or something).

    I’ll look out for your results with interest!

    • I’m gonna put a 36-exp roll of something into my Reto and see what happens. I think 24-exp rolls of color negative film are becoming a thing of the past.

  4. I’ve been shooting the same Vivtar Ultra Wide and Slim for about fifteen years. It does have a flimsy feel which prompted me to keep one I found at a thrift store as a backup, but no need for that so far. I have shot mostly color using both 24 and 36-exposure rolls. I initially shot mostly cheap Kodak 100 ASA color film, but later used a lot of 200 and 400-ASA films. A few times, I used a piece of exposed b&w film leader as neutral density filter, but decided ultimately that the exposure latitude of most faster C-41 films took care of over-exposure issues. Nice to see the Reto being sold at that price; perhaps that will bring the cost of the used originals down to a reasonable level as well.

    • It’s good to know that the vuws is hardy.

      It was unseasonably warm and sunny here yesterday so I went into town and shot a whole 24-exp roll of film in the Reto. I came into some expired but frozen Kroger-branded Ferrania color film, ISO 200, and that’s what I used. Always a risk to use such a film in a new-to-me camera but that’s what I did.

  5. I’m interested in the results you get. I’m also thinking about picking up one myself. Yeah, it would be cooler to find the original Vivitar one, but pickings are slim (ha!) and they go for quite a bit. I’d rather spend decent money on a decent camera, not something that’s basically a toy camera. (Not disparaging the results, but the build.)

    • I shot a roll through it yesterday, and have another in it now. It’s simple like a box camera! Choose a film speed for the lighting that works with the single aperture an shutter speed.

  6. I’m excited for you. I hope you love the new camera! It’s not for everyone, but it’s one of my favorites. FYI: I’ve shot many 36-exposure rolls in my Ultra Wide & Slim without issue. It’s a risk, I know, but I’m always gentle when winding on to the next frame and when rewinding the roll after shooting. Those are both “danger” moments when the winding mechanism can break. You can feel the extra tension in the winder. These days I try to stick with 24-exposure rolls. But now that the Reto version is available, I may just risk another 36-exposure roll in my Superheadz UWS!

  7. Alfred Bradshaw says:

    I have run a few 35 exposure rolls through a RETO I picked up last week with zero bind issues. Looking forward to seeing the results.

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