Imperial Debonair

Olive drab Bakelite, inlayed with stylish graphics, this camera has Herbert George’s DNA all over it . With its little carrying strap sticking straight up out of its head, it grows on you. It takes twelve wide-angle-ish images on 620 film. (Here’s a link about how to respool 120 film onto a 620 spool.) The image area is slightly larger than 2 1/4″ square. I wasn’t expecting much from this camera. I got a pleasant surprise. It gives an image that is nicely in focus near the center with really nifty edge distortion. The shutter speed seems to be consistent. Manufactured by the Herbert George Co. Chicago 6 Illinois, it truly is debonair. It enjoys long walks on the beach or cozy evenings in front of a fireplace. Still in pretty good shape, though it’s “been around”.

The photos below were taken, by me, years ago. In a moment of rash generosity I gave my Debonair away. All these years spent Debonair-less have given me time to come to terms with my decision to part ways with the camera. Fast forward to four days ago: A package arrived in the mail. In it were cameras to die for! One being the classic Imperial Debonair – in olive drab. Just like my long lost friend! Thanks, Terry, for the very thoughtful package!


McKeown’s PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AND CLASSIC CAMERAS 2005-2006 says, “Bakelite box camera with interesting styling. Brown, olive, maroon colors. $20-$30. Normally found in black. $1-$10.”

3 Responses

  1. I just bought a 35mm-620 adapter from Film Photography Project which seems like it will work with my Debonair. I’m running a roll of expired TMax 100 through it and will share images (if they come out) on my @markj913 instagram. They should come out; I imagine TMax is reliable as an old film, like Tri-X or HP5+. Maybe not as great as Verichrome Pan, but then again it’s not as old as a roll of VCP would be.

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