I was thinking about how I might get some more people interested in this blog. And I realised that the best way to do that would be to write the most useless gear review ever.
Wildlife producer John Downer demonstrates how he and his team went about making a documentary about penguins.
In order to get close to them he deployed 50 special cameras disguised as rocks, eggs and penguins. — BBC News
Well. Alright. Not that penguin-cam.
The pingo camera is:
- A 35mm film camera
- Shaped like a penguin
The shutter isn’t quite silent – it makes a little “poing” noise as if a plastic coil has sprung itself. Still, it’s pretty quiet – so good for leaving those penguins undisturbed.
It also appears to be very relaxed, so I thought it might have a good influence if I used it for some street pictures.
In fact, I spent a whole hour walking up and down the street with this camera only to realise that the wind-on mechanism is completely pingo’d. I actually managed to ruin two cheap rolls of film (one chucked, one blank from the lab – who graciously didn’t charge me) before quite figuring out what was wrong: the film does advance, but not every time and not all the way. Much of the time it merely gives the sweet illusion of having wound on.
Still, I figured, in for a penguin – in for a pound. I put another roll through it.
Well I suppose even the most liberal definition of street photography wouldn’t accommodate many of these. But I’m still glad I put that third roll through!
For that one guy in 2015 who’s wondering, the film was Agfa “Vista” ISO 200 from Poundland (where by God’s grace everything is £1).
I guess if there’s any lesson about photography my penguin-cam can tell me it’s this: Give any camera a fair try. Perhaps I was so persistent because when I started out with my FED-4 rangefinder (my first film camera), my first few results were terrible too. But this little Pingo takes it to a whole new level – even though it has a plastic lens, fixed settings, broken “essential” components, and was sold with sweets to children as a toy – I was still able to get these (in my opinion) enjoyable photographs out of them with a little care and the steel determination of someone with too much time on his hands.