Testing the “Modern-Day Warrior” camera

Okay.  I’ve “Frankensteined” three different Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic 127 shooters into the shooter that I currently have nicknamed my “Modern-Day Warrior” 127 camera.   Now comes the test that determines whether this camera becomes a “shooter” or a “dust-gatherer.”

And the only way to test it – is to take some pictures.

I put a roll of 100 efke film in the camera, wound it to frame #1, and hoped for the best.  A few pictures here and there, just to see if I’ve brought this camera to life.

Monday morning, I dropped the roll of film off at McGreevy Pro Lab.  You know the line, dear blog readers… it’s not a Monday unless I’m dropping SOMETHING off at McGreevy Pro Lab.

And when the pictures came back…

Well, what you see here was the best shot from the roll.

Lombardo's Restaurant sign.  Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic camera, Efke 100 B&W film.  Photo by Chuck Miller, although he's not happy with it.
Lombardo’s Restaurant sign. Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic camera, Efke 100 B&W film. Photo by Chuck Miller, although he’s not happy with it.

Argh.  And this wzs the best one, so you know the others were of miserable quality.  All the shots were soft and all out of focus.

Oh, son of a !

After all this work, after cobbling everything together… after assembling what I thought would be the perfect 127 shooter from three imperfect cameras, I got a piece of junk.

There must be something on this camera that I can adjust, something that I hadn’t thought of before.

And I came up with an idea.  Perhaps I made a mistake in swapping out the lens from one camera into the body of the current camera.  Just because I had the ability to use a “Rapid Rectilinear” lens on this camera doesn’t mean that I SHOULD have used a “Rapid Rectilinear” lens for this particular camera.

Only one way to find out.  I cleaned out the original lens, and swapped it back into the “Modern-Day Warrior” camera.

One last roll of 127 film available.  Use it or lose it, I say.

And on Sunday, my last day of my Saint John vacation, I took the “Modern-Day Warrior” camera for a quick test run.  Just a few pictures here and there, within walking distance from my hotel to the sports arena and back.

And after McGreevy Pro Lab developed my films, I scanned the negatives in.

And they were worse.  Major worse.  So bad, in fact, that I didn’t even feel like uploading them to this blog post.  Suffice it to say that this “Modern-Day Warrior” camera is dead in the water.  That’s it.  Retirement shelf for you, little camera.

After much searching on the internet, however, I was able to find a replacement Vest Pocket Autographic, this time a near-mint copy from Great Britain.  This one had a a clean, light-tight bellows, a Rapid Rectilinear lens, and a solid chassis.  I put a roll of film in and started to wind the film to the first frame.

Hmm.  Turning the key, turning the key…  No movement.

I looked inside.  The internal mechanism for the winding key was busted.


Okay, so now what do I do?

Simple.  I grabbed the winding key mechanism from the “Modern-Day Warrior” camera and put it on the new Vest Pocket Autographic.  Part here, part there.

And last Wednesday, I got this picture with the new camera.

St. Patrick's Bell Tower - final day
Road Closed. Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic 127 camera, Efke 100 film. Photo by a much happier Chuck Miller.

Yeah. Finally. Finally finally finally.  This is what I want from a film camera.  Especially a film camera that’s nearly 100 years old.  And in case you’re wondering, the little “11” and “10” and “R100” on the borders of the picture are actually the film control numbers.  The area of exposure on this camera is much wider than modern film was designed to accept.

Makes no matter.  I got what I wanted.  Now it’s time to put this new Vest Pocket Autographic camera into the rotation of film shooters in my collection.  Even if it took four cameras to make one… I’ve finally got my dedicated 127 shooter.

Thank God for interchangeable parts and minor variations in production.