Despite a few glitches, this camera has brought more fun into my life! While using it I had quite the epiphany. More on that later. As I have mentioned before, my friend, Philip, recently passed away from cancer. He fought for a long time and he did not want to go. Before he passed, he asked me to come and pick up his camera collection. This Fotodiox is one of that menagerie. It’s a do-it-yourself kit camera and I believe he did-it-himself. When I was choosing which cameras to bring on a recent trip to Hawaii I decided that this particular camera most likely won’t be effected by humidity and weather … heat. Small and lightweight, if you squint your eyes and let your mind wander, it has the look of a 127 twin lens camera. But no. The camera accepts 35mm film. Looking at the film plane, you can see that it takes rectangular images but I just keep expecting squares. Okay so…
Hawaii is the very last of the 50 states that my husband and I had not yet visited. I picked out a couple of funky Airbnbs but otherwise we pretty much left our itinerary open. Sitting on the screened-in porch at the first Airbnb – a tiny home near Milolii on The Big Island. I love saying that “The Big Island”. Like, “The Big Show”. “The Big Lebowski”. “Big Lots!” – I loaded the camera for the first time ever. As I lifted the folded viewfinder hood, the entire hood just fell apart.
I began to attempt to clip it all back together, but realized that I can actually see the image better without all that phroof. I saved the pieces, but find them not really necessary. The viewfinder is actually pretty bright!
To focus: The gears on the viewing lens mesh with the gears on the taking lens. I loaded the camera with some Svema Foto 200 b&w film and took it on a sea kayaking adventure. Another camera I had brought, the Yashica Partner, was a kayak candidate but … whoa. WHOA! What if the kayak were to flip? The Partner has some complicated circuitry. Well, it has a flash anyway. Rather than take a chance, I brought this diy wonder. I thought about trying to use it underwater, but nah. By the time I’d have gotten the film back to Tokeland it would be a hard, stuck together mess.
After about one or two shots, the film advance indicator (a little rotating arrow thingy) quit engaging. I could tell the film was advancing but had to guess how far to advance it.
Though the viewfinder is bright – as I mentioned before- the camera’s focusability, for me, is still a bit of a guess. I can’t quite see the image clearly without my readers (or, as Bob refers to them, my cheaters). How can I look cool, active and together if I spent my kayak time, slapping my pockets in search of my glasses? So I made do.
The next day, the unthinkable happened. The camera fell off the porch table and broke a focus gear on the viewing lens. I considered ending the trip early and flying home, but I persevered. As long as I remembered to not push it any farther, the camera could still focus on infinity and slightly closer. This was living on the edge. Total survivor-tourism. But it pretty much worked!
Back home: I glued the broken piece of focusing gear back on with jeweler’s cement. It worked!
Yesterday I ran a roll of Efke KB 400 through the Fotodiox. The advance gears just weren’t quite meshing with the film advance indicator arrows so I decided to tape a strip of cardboard inside to hold the film tighter against those gear teeth.
That worked too! Which brings us to yesterday.
Our beach is littered with debris from a fishing boat that has capsized. The Coast Guard, after having searched for two days, has called off the helicopters. As I use my happy-go-lucky, DIY camera, the family is still combing the beaches for their loved one – a fisherman missing from the disintegrated crab boat. His sister stops to show me his picture – just in case I see him. Our beaches are not like Hawaii beaches. They’re windswept and often desolate. There are memorials along Hawaii’s beaches just as there are memorials along ours. I could say a lot of cliché things about the dangers of the sea but this is a silly plastic camera review, for Christ’s sake.
I feel a little self conscious, having this fun while others are suffering. My friend Philip invited me to have fun with his cameras. He suffered. Yet I’m having fun, as intended. Adventures are what we’re here for. Adventures respect life. Everyone, please, have a good time during and after I die. Respect life and party like maniacs.