Summer holidays in France means for me taking an odd camera out of the cupboard in my parents house. I must say I am always tempted to take the Dacora Digna which gives me quite some quite consistent results. Its lack of settings, its Lomo / Holga style rendering (yes but a Free vintage Holga mind you) always make it for interesting results.
Le Cabanon de la Plage is an extremely nice good restaurant with an amazing setting on the border of the beach in La Bocca just outside Cannes on the French Riviera.
I also became partial to using slide film with it. This makes the price per shot quite high indeed but actually I really like what I get in return.
Nice is nice I think “Nice is nice” is part of lyrics of a song, this made us laugh our heads out when we were teenagers.
Finally, a subtle hint of posts to come, picking one one of the “odd” camera was quite challenging this year as I carried from Singapore my beloved Leica M4 and also my new long awaited toy, a pristine M6 Classic black with a Summaron 35mmF2.8.
During last summer holidays my wife looked into an old card-box in the garage and found the Canonet 28 her dad offered her for her 10’s birthday. The camera was still boxed, with the never ready case, strap, manual, guarantee card and a film still engaged.
All looked in perfect condition at the time, but I did not have time to take it for a try and the wife did not want to bring it back to Singapore.
So last month we were back to France for Christmas holidays and I planned carefully to arrived with a roll of Tri-X and an Alkaline battery to make my test. Opening the box a second time was a different experience: the never ready case is very deteriorated, and some joint on the camera door are desaggregating as well. The battery contact shows some corrosion but my father in law was clever enough to remove the old battery before packing the camera. All in all the camera is in good shape, but bought in 1975 and packed probably since the middle of the 80’s (30 years ago), it is not in pristine condition.
After cleaning the contacts, I loaded the battery and the roll of film and the meter start moving when the aperture ring is set to auto mode. I went though the documentation but could not get the meter to give me a speed indication when I select the aperture manually; so all the shots are done in full auto mode.
Results are quite good I think. Quite good contrast if not sharp. There is a few limitations ISO is limited to 25 to 400 range and speed from 1/30th to 1/600th. When it is getting dark, the camera will take pictures at 1/30th F2.8 which cause some motion blur or under exposure. Focusing is easy and seems quite accurate.
I saw the fence and just thought about Geoff Dyer’s book “The ongoing moment” that I am finishing at the moment. He makes a relationship between a 1916 shot of a fence by Paul Strand and a far later picture by Michael Ormerod echoing to it. And here I am in the next century, 100 years later indeed, in front of the fence… really I have no shame
And now for those who read carefully the start of the post. What of the film that was engaged in the camera? This was Konika SR-V 100 color print film; manufacture in the late 80’s; so this is probably expired for 20 odd years. I rolled it back carefully, loaded it in the Nikon F3 and shot it at 50ISO and brought it to the lab… absolutely nothing was shown on the negs when I collected them. Too bad….
This is probably the last film of 2013, all in all I think I shot 54 rolls not including a couple of complete lost ones, so I reached my target for the year: 1 roll a week. I am not sure I will do it again this year.
But back to the Rollei Digibase CR200. This is a slide film, formerly sold as AgfaPrecisa, and now produce by Agfa in Belgium. I orderd a 5 pack a few month back and found it in the post box (so to speak) when I was back in Cannes for Xmas. I could not resist to try one of rolls.
My medium format of choice when in Cannes in the Dacora Digna. A german point and shoot made in the late 50’s with a single adjustment for apperture : F8 and F11 (this was all shot at F11) and a very simple shutter made of a single spring that works more or less at 1/50 seconds. The distance is set on the barel of the extensible lens with just 3 markings.
Back in Singapore it took a while to have the film processed: I was told that the guy doing slides was busy which I think is a good sign (or maybe he has so little work that he waits a few weeks to process a a couple of rolls in one batch). Anyway 4 weeks and 12 SGD (7.5 EUR) later I got my 12 shots. Talking about money I think the film goes for more of less 5EUR.
The film is easy to scan, although a bit curly, the colors are going out very well, very natural, unlike the last roll of Fuji that I scanned. There is probably more grain than on other slide films, but oh actually are there any other slide films available in 2014?
All considered I’m very pleased and cannot wait to try in with the Hassie.
This is a lucky year for the Digna, not only did he get to shoot a roll of slides at Christmas but as I was recently on holidays back home I did 2 more rolls with it. 3 rolls in a year this is unseen for this little camera that I use on for holidays.
What I like the best is what I call the “Lomo effect”, the little distortion of the picture that make it a bit more interesting. So these are just holidays snaps, with this little extra.
Pictures are done with KodakPortra 160 and Kodak Ektar 100 all shot at 100ISO.
So actually on the french national day I was going to the market and I came across a guy in traditional dress holding a drum so just followed and realized he was going to the local celebration of the national day. I took a few shots with the Dacora Digna, my beloved holiday camera, and with the LeicaIII that I brought with me for the summer holidays back home.
The Leica shots are done with the Summitar 50mmF2 on a Rollei RPX 100 Film and I managed to ruin the shots by trying to process the film at home using the Caffenol method. The film was not well developed and very difficult to scan, hence the grain. I’ll come back on the Caffenol story later.
I like the shot I called “The photographers”, the Asian tourist with her phone on the foreground and the official photog in the background.
This Dacora Digna use to belong to my wife’s late uncle.
These camera were manufactured in Germany in the mid 1950’s.
It has a collapsible 80mm/F8 lens and a very simple shutter, made from a single spring, two apertures F8 or F11, made from a disk with holes of two different sizes. The shutter speed is said to be around 1/50th. The distance is set via guess-o-meter with a dial that indicates 1 to 3, 3 to 8, more than 8 meters.
It takes modern 120 films.
The shutter was stuck but it was easily sorted out and works great since I got in summer 2008.
So during Christmas time I went back to France, and pulled it from the treasure chest (an old Tamrac Bag). The only film I had at hand was a 100ASA Elite-chrome Slide film from Kodak, not the best choice for a camera with so little settings.
But here are the results, thanks to shiny weather ad sheer luck.
This one is the best of the lot ; people having a picnic on the beach the Sunday after Christmas, thanks to the mild weather.
The Port Canto, I like the depth of the colors coming out of the slides.Not much post processing was involved appart from cloning dust out. This camera is the only one which is giving me this problem of putting dust on the film resulting in black spots once exposed.
The building of the “Capitainerie” of Port Canto in Cannes.