Perfex Fifty-Five

A Perfex to ponder:

   This camera sat on the shelf of a junk store near here for months! They wanted six bucks for it. Six bucks is well within my camera-buying budget, but what the heck was I ever going to do with a camera in THIS condition? It sat there for so long…I simply had to buy it. I figured I could use the lens (which is pristine) for something…and it does still have the take-up spool. Once I really, really looked at the camera, it began to grow on me. What could possibly have happened to it to get it into the condition it is in? It’s sort of like a dog that you get from the pound; you can only guess about its background by the behavior it displays. But you never really know. Anyway, here are more images:

McKeown’s Camera Guide says this camera is worth between $40-$60, so I got a good deal!

I’m thinkin’ the only way it could have gotten into such a decrepit state is by having been run over by a tank. Then it was dropped into a lake…wait! No! Salt water. For a number of years. Someone actually bothered to tape a rubber viewfinder piece back on, though the other one remains missing. The shutter kind of works, though it sticks. And the back has a slight alignment problem. Do you think the warranty is still good?

Okay, so you get the general idea…

Today I decided to try to get an image out of this camera. After soaking the parts that make up the shutter in lighter fluid (non-moving, until soaked), I loaded a roll of 35mm b&w film into it. You have to sort of mess around with the back to get it to snap back into place and even then, it doesn’t quite settle into place exactly. Wrapped in Gaffer’s tape (fabric of the Gods) I exposed a few frames. I used the sunny 16 rule and achieved quite a bit of success. The rewind didn’t appear to be rewinding. Later, I found that the film had gotten bound up and the sprocket holes were torn. I took the camera into the darkroom, removed the Gaffer’s tape and, in the dark, attempted to pry the back off the camera body. In the middle of a good pry, it suddenly popped off. In the dark I could feel something that wasn’t there before. A flap of something tough, yet pliable…  it was wet, and getting wetter…eeeuuuu! It was a big slab of my index finger that had been torn off by a sharp hunk of rusty metal. My first thought was that I was glad my tetanus shot was up-to-date (due to an accident from the recent past which, by the way, was also photographically related). In the dark, while loading the film into the developing tank, I remembered an article I’d recently read. It was an interview with Naomi Campbell. She talked about how Helmut Newton had made her tighten her muscles and hold the pose for minutes, during a photo shoot. She said, “We all have to suffer for our art.” , or something ridiculous like that.

There is no way to bring this camera back to its former glory, however it can be brought beyond its former glory. I made it into a Gala Edition Perfex Fifty-Five.

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