The Alfie TYCH is a new 35mm half-frame film camera that is being developed by a U.K. startup by the same name: Alfie Cameras. The system is currently planned for launch in September, and the company is looking for photographers to help Beta test it.
Alfie Cameras is a start-up based in Farnborough, U.K. The company was founded with the aim of bringing creative film photography cameras to the growing community of analog film photographers. The “TYCH” camera name is a play on the word Diptych, which is often used to refer to pairs of related photographs taken by half-frame cameras.
Like the Kodak Ektar, the Alfie TYCH is a half-frame camera and as such, photographers can get more than 72 photos per roll of typical 35mm film, but each photo is half the size.
What makes the Alfie different from the Kodak Ektar is the ability to use a selection of built-in lenses. According to the company’s founder, Dave Faulkner, the camera has three built-in lenses: a pinhole lens, an f/8 meniscus lens, and a Zone Sieve lens.
The pinhole lens is made through photo etching (laser cutting and CNC machining were attempted but discarded), while the f/8 meniscus lens is repurposed from disposable cameras sourced from Analogue Wonderland, specifically the Kodak Funsaver disposable camera. Finally, the Zone Sieve lens is the most complex:
“Zone Sieve lenses are created so that lightwaves interfere with each other giving the images a rather dreamy look. First, the lens design has to be created to be a specific pattern that will achieve the desired look,” Faulkner explains to 35mmc. “Then it is photographed with panchromatic film with deep blacks. The most important part is getting the scaling right. This film is then used as the lens and acts like a filter.”
The Alfie TYCH has room for a fourth lens, and Faulkner says that there are hopes a glass optic can be used in that spot but that would require a partner to manufacture it. While one has been identified, it’s a process that is taking a lot longer than anticipated so it might only show up in a future version of the camera.
Faulkner says that each lens offers something unique to the photography process, but they also can be combined for “endless creativity” through multiple exposures, diptychs, and panoramas.
The camera has an automatic exposure mode for quick point-and-shoot work as well as a manual mode to give the photographer full control of the capture regardless of the film used. The Alfie TYCH uses a USB rechargeable battery and Faulkner says that the camera’s near-silent shutter makes it ideal for street photography.
“I’ve taken the things I wanted to see in a half-frame camera and squeezed them into a compact design. The Alfie TYCH combines the benefits of modern electronics with the beauty of analog photography,” he says.
The Alfie TYCH will launch as a Kickstarter in September and as such, final pricing and availability are not yet known. However, prior to the official launch, the company is looking for Beta testers to help refine it ahead of launch. Those interested in becoming a Beta tester can register on the Alfie Cameras website.