May I present to you the 6×9 Kershaw Eight-Twenty Penguin. Released in the 50′s and made in Britain, it was crap even back then. One shutter speed (or bulb), and a choice of two apertures, plus some dodgy manufacturing didn’t leave me feeling confident of getting decent photos. On the plus side, the bellows were in good nick with no light leaking, but the lens did have some fungus Oh, and the shutter didn’t really work (it worked in bulb mode, but acted like it was in normal mode, if you pulled the shutter button out then pushed it back in!). And the the viewfinder was completed loose and wobbly. And the metal struts that held the lens in place were stuck. And the aperture selection switch pretty much didn’t slide.
But apart from that it was fine.
I love experimenting with old cameras, I buy a few here and there, and always use them. It’s such a waste to think people buy old cameras just to collect them without ever firing the shutter. I was determined to see if I could get anything out of it.
A perfect opportunity arose, we were heading up Ben A’an for a brisk walk, and with such great views of Loch Katrine and further afield, I figured a 6×9 would be perfect! Just to be safe I did end up taking a holga and a polaroid though!
After scaling the mountain, i pulled out the Penguin, folded it out and starting taking photos. The problem was, however, the metal bracing on that held the lens in place was stuck, so the first 4 photos were completely out of focus due to a wonky bellow! After correcting it with some force, I continued taking photos until i realised you only get 8 on the film(damn my below-par mathematical skills!).
I developed them and a few things were apparent: The shutter is waaaaay slower than the 1/100 I had read on the internet. With 400ISO film, they were incredibly overexposed(it was a stinkingly dark day too, so 400 film was the right one to use), I had to turn the levels right down in photoshop to see the photo Next time I’ll use some 100ISO film and I should be sorted (if there is a next time!). The other thing is that there is an obscene amount of dust on the inside of the lens, but as I don’t have a working bulb mode to clean the inside of the lens, it’s stuck there forever.
Here’s the photos anyway, I guess they really do look like they have been taken with a 60 year old camera!
Overall, I would say there are better folding cameras out there to try, most of them are incredibly cheap at the moment too, so get digging (check out our recent article on the Zeiss Ikon). I wouldn’t bother with the Penguin, it’s pretty rubbish! Maybe if it’s a couple of dollars, but otherwise leave well alone.
Anyone else tried some crap old cameras in the hope of getting something good out of them? Sometimes you find some real gems, other times you get the Kershaw Penguin.