The serious toy from the 70's
The Ami 66 looks and behaves like a toy camera. It is made of plastic with a very simple shutter mechanism. Produced in 1970’s in Poland by Warsaw Photo-optical Work the Ami 66 wasn’t widely available because the production line was state controlled during the communist era.
The Ami is made of high impact polysryrene and it is very light. Its funky design attracts attention even today. You don’t need a lot of technical skills to take pictures with this camera. Many people agree that it resembles Holga, although it is bigger, lighter and indeed more stylish.
It takes 6×6 cm exposures on 120 film and has a 75/8 simple, fixed-focus lens, and a choice between 1/50 sec and a long exposure bulb option. There is a mountable flash with a flash sync port located on the barrel of the lens. The aperture is f/8 for cloudy and f/16 for sunny.
Inside, the circular casing of the lens creates a vignetting effect on the print giving it a nostalgic feel. It also produces fairy high contrast.
The shutter can be slow and sometimes gets stuck (you will know it if you cannot hear the noise that the shutter lever gives when you press it and then when you release it. If this happens don’t be afraid of DIY with his camera. You can easily unscrew the plastic casing to check if everything is ok and put a tiny bit of grease on the moving parts.
Despite having a very limited choice of settings, images produced by the Ami are interesting and creative. You may be surprised that the Ami is 40 years old. It looks like a modern ‘retro’ camera, but the shots it takes have a definite ‘old’ warm quality that makes shooting with it not only fun, but also a joy.
If you enjoy this review, you will probably like others. Check out Bilora Bella 3c - beautiful in so many ways, Sputnik - 3D with TLC, and Zenit-E - mass produced for the common people.
Ami may look like a toy but don't underestimate the way it behaves. Here is a selection of photographs taken with this camera to show you what it can do: