Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Samsung Evoca 90w Neo

EVOCA by Samsung

To be honest, I didn't realize that Samsung made 35mm cameras until this one showed up in a box full of point and shoots.  Samsung did, in fact produce some very good compact P&S 35mm cameras, as well as an APS P&S.  The camera's clean design, short zoom range, Schnieder lens, and LCD rear display intrigued me enough to try it out. 

The Samsung Evoca line

From what I have found so far, Samsung sold 35mm point and shoots from at least 1990 into the early 2000s.  Shutterbug's June 1, 2002 archived page has an article by Peter K. Burian reporting on P&S cameras from the PMA show.    There were several model lines by Samsung -- Maxima, Pronta, and  Evoca. The Evoca line was apparently their top line for "photo enthusiasts": 

"Samsung's Evoca line now includes a model with a zoom lens that includes a true wide angle 28mm focal length. The Evoca 90W Neo QD is a fully automatic model with a 28-90mm f/4.5-11 Schneider-Kreuznach lens and diopter correction eyepiece. In spite of the moderate price ($210) this camera is said to be housed in a titanium body. Features include continuous autofocus, two Program modes, Panorama Frame mode, and a remote control unit, plus an advanced flash unit."

It's quite possible that the Evoca cameras were the outcome of the purchase of Rollei by Samsung in 1995.  It's been suggested that the Prego cameras were the inspiration for the Evoca line, and I have to say that the lens choice may have been the result.  I have found the Prego cameras to be delicate things.  The Evoca 90 W Neo is not fragile. 

There are several Evoca models -

  • 70 SE, 35-70mm  Schneider-Kreuznach zoom (highly touted in 12/1999 Popular Photography as a travel camera)
  • 70 S, 35-70mm Samsung SHD lens ($129 in May 1999 Popular Photography)
  • 90w Neo, 28-90mm Schneider-Kreuznach Varioplan Zoom (Reviewed here)
  • Zoom 115,  38-115mm, (also called Fino outside of USA)
  • 140 S QD,  38-140mm f/4.6-12.2 Schneider-Kreuznach zoom 
  • 170 Neo QD, 38-170mm Schneider-Kreuznach zoom, passive (not active) multi-point autofocus, Panorama Frame mode, and backlight compensation control 

The Samsung Evoca 90w Neo
At first glance, one might think this was an early digital P&S, especially since there is a small rear LCD panel which occupies the left side.   However, this 2002 camera appeared at a time when a digital P&S could not compare in image quality to 35mm.  It was however, the end of the premium compact 35mm cameras, as consumers started buying the premise that digital was the new “best thing.
rear of camera 
zoom at 90mm

The 90 Neo is a bit unusual in that its zoom range is from 28-90mm.  There are not many short-range P&S zooms with such a good lens as the Schneider- Kreuznach Varioplan.  In use, I found myself shooting mostly at the wide end, as 28mm is a good focal length for a lot of street photography. 

Camera specifications

  • Lens- 28-90mm Schneider-Kruzenenach Varioplan, f/4.5-11.  
  • Focus – 2 ft – infinity
  • Shutter speeds – B, 1/3 – 1/400 sec
  • ISO - (via DX coding) 50-3200
  • Viewfinder – Real image, 80% coverage, adjustable diopter
  • Focus – automatic, can be preset for infinity
  • Film Advance – Automatic, power rewind
  • Exposure Modes – Automatic, Bulb, Program
  • Flash – Built-in, range 2 ft – 34 ft at ISO 400, 28mm, 8 sec recycle time, red-eye reduction
  • Tripod socket – yes
  • Remote control – optional
  • Self-timer – 10 sec
  • LED Info – focus, flash ready
  • LCD Display - battery condition, date / time, film advance mode, flash mode, frame counter, program, red-eye reduction, remote control indicator, self-timer mode, zoom; 
  • Features - auto power off, autofocus lock, captions imprint, panorama mode 
  • Power – 1 CR123A 3V battery
  • Weight – 8.1 ounces
  • Dimensions – 4.6 x 1.7 x 2.6 inches

Overall, a pretty good array of features that should appeal to the compact p&s crowd.  In fact, it compares very favorably with the Yashica T4 Zoom (made by Kyocera).   In hindsight, had Samsung just issued this with a 28mm f/3.5 single focal length, I think it would have been a highly desirable camera with the street shooting crowd, and would be commanding Contax T3 prices today.  Alas, the zooms were the thing in the late 1990s, but the Evoca 90w certainly is a very good camera if you can find one. 

I loaded the camera with a roll of Kodak T-max 100 film and took it with me to Columbia, SC.  It was easy to use, and of course, easy to goof up things without a manual.  In the course of using it, I somehow selected "print" with the multiple controls on the rear of the camera, and ended up having the date imprinted on most of the negatives (without having set the date and time, no less).  Subsequently, I loaded a roll of T-max P3200, and made sure that I had everything set properly. 

Conclusions -

The Samsung Evoca 90w Neo is a great little camera.  The zoom is fast and quiet, and I liked being able to preset the camera for infinity focus and no flash.  To me, the 28mm focal length was my preferred setting.  I also liked the Panorama masking mode.  The images at 28mm had a definite panoramic look when the Panorama mode was selected via an easily-found switch on the back.  The adjustable diopter in the viewfinder was a nice feature, too.  The body of the camera feels comfortable in the hand, with nothing protruding when the camera is shut off.  It is easy to use, and apart from my mistake with the date stamp, the camera modes are easily adjusted via the mode dial on the back.  Note, I am not a fan of date-stamping an image. It has no place in serious photography, and it certainly does not indicate that one can verify when an image was made.  According to my images, I was there in 2015.

This seems to be one of the less-seen models on eBay.  The 70SE 115, as well as the 170 are typically in the $5 to $60 range, but the 90 does not show up.  Given that it was sold at the end of the compact 35mm P&S era, probably not as many were sold as the earlier models.  I would say that if you were to find one, $50 would be a good price. 


P3200, selfie

P3200, All Souls Cathedral, Biltmore Village, NC

P3200 living room light

P3200, Biltmore Village, NC

P3200, Biltmore Village

Columbia, SC State House steps, Tmax 100

Tmax 100, Panorama mode, Columbia SC

Tmax100, ca. 90mm, Columbia, SC

Tmax100, ca. 35mm, Columbia, SC

Tmax100, 28mm, panorama mode, Columbia, SC

Tmax 100, Columbia, SC

Tmax 100, Columbia, SC

1 comment:

Tom said...

I love the black and white shots, thanks for sharing. Been thinking of upgrading my camera.