Ami 66

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Ami 66

The Ami 66 is a toy viewfinder camera made of plastic during communist era by the Polish firm Warszawskie Zakłady Fotooptyczne (Warsaw Photo-optical Works or WZFO). Simple and popular in the People's Republic of Poland, examples of the Ami were nevertheless hard to get since their production was limited in the economy controlled by the government.

The Ami 66 came into existence when the earlier, slightly more complex model the Ami 2 was discontinued around 1970. (The Ami 2 replaced the Ami, which replaced an earlier camera produced by WZFO called Druh in 1962.) The body of the Ami 66 was redesigned, but most importantly, the shutter was simplified further. The Ami 66 has become a rare find nowadays, attracting numerous collectors.

The body of the camera was made from “styropol” or high impact polystyrene, substantially reducing its weight and improving its aesthetics. A funky pop-art design with white dots around the lens (which resembled photocells) was meant to attract attention. A logo in its lower right corner printed on flame-red background depicted a dog (which some say, looked like a horse).

The camera has a B (bulb) option that allowed for keeping the exposure open indefinitely (a dark environment or indoors).

Ami 66 was accompanied by an all-leather case designed for this camera with production dates marked inside the snout of the case and inside the strap; a slightly tight fit. The convex back of the camera indicates that it was made for a camera without a film plane.

Ami 66 only takes 6×6 cm exposures on 120 film. It has a 75/8 simple, fixed-focus meniscus lens, and a choice between 1/50 sec (with flash synchronization) and B (Bulb). The aperture is f/8 for cloudy and f/16 for sunny.

Ami does not have any particular meaning in Polish, but French was a widely known language in Poland at the time and it is thus possible that the name refers to the French word ami ("friend").

Technical data[edit]

Version Ami

  • Film: 120
  • Lens: meniscus lens 1:8/75mm, achromatic
  • Aperture: f/8 (cloudy) and f/16 (sunny)
  • Shutter: sector shutter ca. 1/50 only
  • Focus: fixed
  • Flash: mountable, synchronized for flash bulbs only
  • Body: high-impact polystyrene

Version Ami 2

  • Film: 6×6cm
  • Lens: meniscus lens 1:8/75mm, achromatic
  • Shutter: central at 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 and B
  • Focus: adjustable from 2.5 meters to hyper focal infinity
  • Flash: mountable, synchronized for flash bulbs and electronic flashes
  • Body: high-impact polystyrene