Outside of my initial troubles with the film advance knob during building, the use of the camera is fairly straight forward. Open the view box on the top, flip the internal mirror up to see through the lens (lever located by the lens), choose your exposure (Normal or Bulb) compose, focus, press the shutter release button (on the top) advance the film.
I like the way the view box is constructed. Each component has a little tab to use to flip it up, and they lock together to hold the viewbox open. There is even a tiny magnifying glass built into the top that you can use for closer viewing, however without flipping that up it is possible to hold the camera at your waist to compose and focus. The mirror is pretty bright, once it is flipped up. (most of the time it took several attempts with the mirror lever to get the mirror to stay put)
I also decided to load one (probably final) roll of film into my TLR to do a final "tape every inch of the door" light leak test.
The camera is upside down here, I taped over the bottom hinge.
Taped all the way around the bottom.
Tapes all around the edge of the back "door" where I load the film. (the note on the back is because the viewer is so hard to see through that I had to remind myself where to put the lens when focusing)
While I was out, I frequently stood in the sunshine and turned both cameras over, allowing the sunlight to hit it at every angle, both with the viewfinders open and closed. I had planned on shooting the exact same shots, from different angles, using the two cameras, however about 3 frames in, my TLR's shutter (to add insult to injury) started defiantly sticking. Perhaps it was jealous that I took another film camera out in the field. Or it is just tempermental. In any case, I didn't bother to scan most of the frames as they are mostly overexposed and blurry from camera movement with a long shutter.
And there is the whole "light leak" problem that clearly did not disappear
I scanned the adjacent gap between frames to show the red streak that has plagued so many of my rolls of film. The leak is either from the viewfinder being open in the sun, or from light reflecting inside the film box when I shoot with the sun to my right. In any case, I just can't reliably use this camera in daylight, add to that the sometimes-sticking-shutter and the TLR is officially retired to my shelf of "I can't shoot with them but aren't they pretty?" cameras.
On to the successful part of the day, the Konstruktor!
First of all... NO LIGHT LEAKS (so far) With no special taping, and with keeping the viewfinder open and turning the camera this way and that in the sunshine, I saw no evidence of light reflection or light leaks on any parts of my film. It is such a relief!
As for the image quality, I do enjoy the nostalgic feel of the plastic lens and film combination. The focus seems to be fairly accurate with what I saw in the viewfinder (though the viewfinder seems to be sharper than the resulting image) I like the vignetting that I get from the lens, and I *love* that the film advance knob stops after each frame, so I'm not wasting film over-rolling or overlapping shots by under-rolling.
Here are some of my images from the botanical gardens
This is a meadow along the trail... testing the infinity focal length.
Here are ferns growing out the side of a tree trunk, testing the .5m focal length. It looks like I get some depth of field on this setting
This is probably my favorite shot on the roll, again testing the .5m focal length
This was set to infinity... the little brown streak in the air near the center/bottom is actually a juvenile bald eagle riding thermals... I did curse under my breath for my decision to leave the big DSLR and lens at home, but this was only meant to be a quick stop to test the film camera. Still... birds!
This was an intentional double exposure
This was an accidental double exposure. I'm not sure if I forgot to advance the film or if I hit the button accidentally while pulling the camera from its case.
The next thing to test will be the bulb setting, and the challenge will be to remember to advance the film after each shot.