After I graduated from high school 1989, I went to work at my local Best Products store in Riverdale, Utah. If you don’t remember Best, it was also known by its former name, LaBelle’s. It was a catalog showroom where customers would walk the isles of the store or browse a catalog, find the product they wanted to purchase, write down the product on an order form and bring it to the order desk. If the item was in stock, it would gently roll out on a conveyer belt. Best was known for jewelry, electronics, sporting goods, housewares and toys. I was part of a group that made sure the products were on display in the store. During the five years I worked there, I decorated countless Christmas trees, unpackaged hundreds of TVs, and managed to meet my wife.
In the electronics area of the store were several large glass cases that displayed cameras. Best sold everything from Canon, Nikon, and Pentax. Some entry-level SLRs and numerous point-and-shoot cameras. One of the cameras I loved to play with was the Canon Photura. It looked like a small video camera and had a strange lens cover that also became the flash. Having no money and no interest in photography, I was content to pull it out of the case on occasion to play with it. One day last year my wife and I were reminiscing about dating, working at the same place and all the odd people we encountered. I suddenly remembered the Photura and went to eBay to purchase one.
Made in 1990 by Canon in Japan, some say that the Photura is one of the last truly innovative camera designs that Canon made. It’s an odd cylinder shape, and when the lens cover is opened on its hinge, it becomes a fresnel lens and flash. The Photura is the easiest camera to load by simply dropping in the 35mm canister in a vertical position and closing the camera back. It features a 3-point Smart Focus lens with a near-infrared beam to assist. Shutter speeds are 2 seconds to 1/250th, and shoots ISO 25-3200. The camera has a 35 – 105mm f/2.8 – 6.6 powered zoom lens.
To test my Canon Photura, I used Lomography Color 400 Film. While there is some grain, I like the color. These photos look identical to the photos from my Pentax IQ Zoom that my wife (then girlfriend) gave to me for Christmas in 1990. The flash and its plastic fresnel lens emit a lot of light. More light than any point-and-shoot camera I’ve ever used, digital included.