Friday, April 22, 2011

every camera I own: the dick tracy 127

A gift from V.
The Dick Tracy camera was produced around 1947. There are several other bakelite cameras that look just like this, like the MajesticPickwick, and Falcon, but have different face plates - one of the keenest variations on this model is the  Brenda Starr  camera. I can't figure out what the ur-brand is of this camera but "Seymore Products Co.", as well as Falcon, originate in Chicago. This is essentially a half-frame camera - it makes sixteen images on a roll of  8-exposure 127 film.  There are two frame-windows on the back; I've been careful to tape up the frame windows to prevent light leaks, and I only peel back the tape when advancing film.

A full-frame 127 exposure produces a somewhat larger negative than 35mm film.  I sometimes see 127 referred to as medium format, but I don't know about that. If 35mm is bantamweight (like the Kodak Bantam, whose 828 film spools are similar in size to 35mm), then 127 is welterweight, but middleweight does not weigh in until you get to 120. Still, I am throwing around boxing weight classes with only a passing (read: I looked them up on Wikipedia) knowledge of them. Go ahead, call it medium format if you want; lives do not depend upon it.

You might think 127 is a long obsolete film format.  Kodak did stop manufacturing it in the 90's,  but this welterweight gauge is in fact still in production from companies like Efke,  Blue Murano, and even Rollei. The august German manufacturer introduced black and white 127 stocks just a few years ago, perhaps tailored to the legacy of their Baby Rolleiflex, a less expensive alternative to its even more prized medium-format big brother.

I've used some of these new 127 stocks with this camera before.This is the lovely Bluefire Murano - note the minor light leak at the top of the frame:

I have fresh(-ish) Bluefire Murano stock at hand, but as is my wont I used an eBay acquisition of long-expired (ca. 1961) Verichrome Pan. And it turned out fine, if a little wanting in contrast after all these years. This Midas franchise is Winchester, VA:

A small park in my neighborhood. The backing paper bled through a bit here. I was inclined to thank the camera for the fact that there are no details here that would make you think this image was made in 2011, but maybe a sharper image would not have revealed the times. Or are those rooftop spikes antennae?

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