Beseler Pinhole

Here’s one from the archives circa 1998.

It was yet another dark rainy night in Seattle. Amid the general din of tires swishing by on the wet street and the noise of freeway traffic in the distance, my husband pulled up to the curb. I jumped in the car, all aglow from a fabulous day of photography lectures and workshops, but most of my excitement could be attributed to my most recent photographic acquisition. “You won’t believe what I found!” I squealed. Bob gave me the hairy eyeball. He doesn’t really care about cameras or photography in general. (I know! An alien among us! A non-believer!) He accompanied me to the city with the idea that while I was doing a photography thing he could go have fun. “Fun” ended up being a day spent sleeping off a bad hangover in a park while listening to football on the car radio. Me? I’m almost ten years younger than he is, so I could still enjoy my day after…though that’s becoming tougher and tougher as time goes on. Anyway, we picked up my friend Steve and headed out to dinner. Over dinner I told them both about the cardboard Beseler camera I’d bought. ” I mean, a cardboard camera! Could anyone resist it?” I said. Steve and Bob looked at each other and both said, “Do you really want us to answer that?”

An evening, two weeks later, I decided to sit down and glue the thing together. Two hours later, I was finished. Okay, it probably wouldn’t take everyone two hours…but, if you’re going to assemble this thing, allow yourself some time. I could have made a pinhole camera out of just about anything, but the fact that some company manufactures one intrigued me. The camera is a nice size, 3″ tall, 6 1/2″ wide (though the shutter in just over 8″), and 3″ deep. It takes eight 6×9 images on 120 film. It’s reusable. It came with a roll of Agfa APX400. When I’d exposed the roll, I opened the camera in the darkroom. The film wasn’t tight on the take-up spool, causing slight edge fog. Oops. Shoulda turned out that light.

McKeown’s PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE & CLASSIC CAMERAS 2005-2006 states, “Pinhole-Alpa [note: closest I could find was this listing]  1998. The least expensive Alpa camera ever produced, and made in Switzerland at that! A limited edition of 250 pinhole camera construction kits with Alpa branding were produced by Peter Olpe, a specialist maker of pinhole cameras. Takes 8 exposures 6x9cm on 120 film. Aperture f200, field angle 72 degrees horizontal and 49 degrees vertical. They sold out quickly at the original price of about $26.”

Update: Since I wrote that brilliant piece, above, I have used this camera numerous times. Here are a few samples with other films. The image tends to be an all-over soft focus.

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