I was thinking about buying a Holga or Diana, but along came the Film Photography Project’s Plastic Filmtastic. It’s a hybrid of both, priced at $19.99 with a free roll of Kodak 400TX film from the Film Photography Project Store. The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair has a lot in common with other toy cameras, but the Debonair (classy name, huh?) has a great deal in common with the promotional freebies you would receive in the 1980’s for subscribing to Time or Sports Illustrated magazines. With 120 film in the FPP Plastic Filmtastic, you’ll get sixteen 6 x 4.5 images. The camera has an f/8, 60mm plastic molded lens with focusing options for a single person, group, or mountains (close-up, medium, and infinity focusing). Or as Michael Raso from the Film Photography Podcast likes to say, “One bloke. Three blokes. Mountains.” The camera also has a sunny and cloudy day switch for exposure control. The fixed shutter is approximately 1/100th of a second on sunny and 1/50th of a second on cloudy. No batteries are needed, and it has a hot shoe for a flash.
Using the Debonair was my first experience with a plastic 120 film camera. If you look closely at the photos of the camera, you can see a few blobs where grease was applied around the Super Lens during the assembly of the camera. I’m sure the lubricant was applied to keep the plastic from wearing away while focusing the lens. I didn’t notice it until I looked at these photos.
These are my initial shots with the free roll of Kodak 400TX Black & White Film that came with the camera. After reading another review of the Debonair on Lomography.com, the author indicates they noticed lines across the negatives. I noticed the same after receiving my negatives and scans back from The Dark Room. However, when I shot some sprockets on 35mm film in the camera the next day, there are no lines.
Many of my photos were taken while hiking with family last month in Zion National Park, Utah. The Debonair is a fun camera. Because it’s plastic, the weight is unnoticeable, so it went in my backpack with four other cameras. I didn’t pack any water or snacks for the kids, but managed to pack 5 cameras. My wife, making a joke, was quick to point out how messed up my priorities are. One item I was looking forward to with the Debonair was the possibility of some artsy light leaks and it delivered them nicely. With the lens pointed in the direction of sunlight, it produced the effect that Holga and Diana cameras are known for. In the two images of the abandoned truck, you can see how random the light came in. It worked as I hoped, but I think it looks better on color film. I also think that’s part of the fun and experience with a plastic toy camera like the Debonair. There’s a lot of possibilities for creativity that can come through experimentation.
The Debonair does require a lot of light. I like my black and white film images with a lot of contrast. The images I created with black and white 120 film versus the 35mm color film for sprockets are vastly different. The black and white images, with the lines, look aged and antique. The color images on 35mm film spill color with a vibrant retro look. The following are my recommendations for 120 film for the Film Photograph Project Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera:
Kodak T-Max 100 Black & White 120 Film for outdoors and bright light.
Kodak T-Max 400 Black & White 120 Film for indoors and low light.
Kodak Ektar 100 Color 120 Film for outdoors and bright light.
Kodak Porta 400 Color 120 Film for indoors and low light.
In Part 2 of the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair review, I’ll share my experience shooting sprockets. And I’ll be giving away a sweet little accessory to help you shoot sprockets in your 120 or 620 film camera!