Imperial Debonair

Discussion in 'Lo-Fi Cameras' started by ME Super, May 10, 2013.

  1. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    I've recently been given an Imperial Debonair camera, manufactured by the Herbert George Company in Chicago. It looks like it's a fixed focus camera with no aperture or shutter speed controls. I know it takes 620 film, but shoot, it's medium format! The shutter fires and the film transport mechanism is super simple (no double-exposure prevention either), so I plan to re-roll 120 onto 620 spools to be able to use this. Anybody know what modern film emulsions will work in this camera, or what aperture and shutter speed it uses?

    DSCN0524.jpg

    I may finally actually shoot some color negative in this, as it has more exposure latitude than slide film.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    So, given the films of the same era as the camera, you should go for fairly slow film, but with good exposure latitude. Bottom line: Pan F: no; Plus-X, FP4: yes; TMX, Delta100: maybe. If you can't or don't want to process your own b/w, your options are:
    - b/w: Kodak BW 400CN, or Ilford XP2 400; both can be developed at any minilab as if they were color print films; but, starting with an ISO 400 film, even with large latitude, is maybe pushing the limits
    - color: fuji superia 200, if you can find it in 120, or kodak portra 160, if you don't mind the slightly higher price. Or any color negative expired film (not on ebay, where it' sold for more than fresh film!!)
    Slide film is a no-no.
    With 100-200 ISO film, b/w or color, you should be able to take usable pictures in daytime, sunny to overcast weather. Shoot one film, take notes.
     
  3. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    Before you go to re-roll 120 onto 620 spools, a process I found quite tedious, try trimming the edges of the 120 plastic spools modern film comes on. If you clip it down with something like nail clippers or an X-acto blade, some (most?) cameras will take it.

    Looking it up on Camerapedia, it seems it was made in the 60s and was also branded as the official Cub Scout camera.
     
  4. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    just about any film from asa 100 on up will work -- remember, this is a spiffy version of a Holga and depends to a great deal on film latitude to give good images.

    If you use 100 you will be restricted to sunshine and brightly lit -- asa 400 will give you a lot more leeway...
     
  5. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    Thanks. I'm replying to several people at once. I figured slide film would be a no-no. First roll will probably be Ektar 100 since that's what the local camera shop has on hand fairly cheaply. Probably will order some Portra 400 from B&H with my next film order. I've been wanting to shoot square pictures for a while, and since 126 isn't an option for me, 6cm x 6cm will work. Might even have some scans sent to Dwayne's to put on 35mm slide for projection, just because I can. :smile:

    That's cool that this camera used to be sold as the official Cub Scout camera. Will have to share that with the other leaders in my son's Boy Scout troop. They'll probably get a kick out of it.

    Will probably respool at least some 120 over to 620 rolls, as I'm considering building a 120 pinhole camera, and need at least 1 spool for a take-up spool for that.

    Thanks again, this looks to be a fun camera, even though it has only one aperture and shutter speed! It also came with a flash that takes flashbulbs, so may have to source some flashbulbs for it too, just because I can.
     
  6. limnidytis

    limnidytis Subscriber

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  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I've had a couple of these fixed-everything cameras, and it seems like f/8 or f/11 and 1/50 is a common range for the settings. In full-sun conditions, I usually shoot a 25-speed ortho film in them and develop in Diafine for compensation; ASA 100 for brightish-overcast, and I suppose 400 would work for dimmer conditions, but I don't really trust my ability to eyeball the light levels at that point. In any case a compensating developer is pretty useful.

    Marcy Merrill says good things about it: http://junkstorecameras.com/ImperialDebonair.htm.

    -NT
     
  8. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    With fixed focus cameras the lens is usually set to give the best focus at about 6 to 8 feet to infinity. Avoid subjects closer than this distance for best results.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2013
  9. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I tried Portra 400 in my Brownie Hawkeye and all the pictures were blown out. I did get some from dark shaded places that were usable. This camera is (I think) f8 at 1/45th. The Ektar and Reala 100 work great.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi me super

    for what its worth ...
    i use box cameras Sometimes
    and speeds vary ... maybe 1/50 ... maybe 1/100
    fstops may be anywhere btween f 8 and f13
    have fun!