Category Archives: Lomography

Canon Photura

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.

 

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The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Part Two

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After shooting the first free roll of 120 film in the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair, I was anxious to try something new. I decided to do some sprocket hole photography. What is sprocket hole photography? It’s a method where you use 35mm film in a camera that normally uses medium format 120 film. The result is a style where the image displays the sprocket holes in the 35mm film because the camera has exposed the full width of the film. To use smaller film in the camera, you can modify the camera, or modify the way the 35mm film is held in place. Either way, if the camera or spool is hacked, it’s critical to ensure film is centered as it passes behind the lens.

Before I loaded film into the camera, I took two pieces of black electrical tape and blocked out the red frame indicator window on the back of the camera. This is done because 120 film has a paper back, 35mm film does not. If the window isn’t covered, the 35mm film will become exposed to light. Without a number in the window, how do you know what frame you’re on? A little guesswork, but turning the takeup spool about 1 ¼ turns advances the film far enough to be safe without overlapping on the previous image. A 24 exposure roll should yield about 17 images. I was probably winding too far, I only shot 12 images on a roll of Kodak Gold 200.

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Earlier this year I purchased some adapters from Pinhole Printed. These 3D printed adapters attach to the 35mm film and center the film in the perfect spot. They allow the film to unwind from the canister and move to the take up spool without having to modify the camera. There are several hacks you can find on the internet that basically do the same as these 3D printed spools. I liked the idea of using the spools because they’re cheap and they fit snug on the 35mm film canister. The only problem I had is the size of the spools. They’re meant to fit in most cameras, and because they fit so snug in the camera, I had problems after the first eight shots. I found myself really cranking the camera to advance to the next frame. Before I use the adapters again from Pinhole Printed, I’ll need to sand them down and make them a little smaller. I found that storing the adapters in an empty plastic film canister kept them from getting lost in my camera bag.

Shooting sprockets on the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair was fun. I spent the day in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, with my family. I love the vivid blues and golden browns in my photos. This is exactly what I expected from a toy camera with 35mm film. In the past week I purchased a Holga 120N camera. I think I’m going to come back to the Debonair to shoot sprockets over the Holga. Why? The Holga back and body doesn’t seal as well as the Debonair. Without trying, I can see that shooting sprockets on the Debonair is easier than the Holga. On the Debonair, you only have to block out the frame indicator on the back of the camera. The Holga will require blocking out the window, and covering half of the camera in gaffers tape to ensure light doesn’t leak to the 35mm film. Removing film from the Debonair versus the Holga would be much easier too. Because the 35mm film is now on the 120 takeup spool in the camera, it’s necessary to manually rewind the film back inside of the 35mm film canister. This can be done using a film changing bag or dark room. I took the Debonair into my dark basement, opened the camera, and removed the 35mm canister with the adapters still attached. Next I carefully removed the 120 takeup spool and rewound the 35mm film back into the camera. Going back to my earlier comments about the Debonair versus the Holga. When I rewound the film, I was doing it in complete darkness. With the Debonair, it was only a matter of flipping the latch on the bottom of the camera and removing the film. On the Holga, I would need to remove all the gaffers’ tape, in the dark, before opening the camera and rewinding the film.

The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Review Part 1


The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Part 1

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!