This Ain’t Your Father’s Film Camera. Wait, Yes It Is.


 Fuji X100 | 1/60th sec f/5.6 ISO200

On the heels of my last post, another film-related adventure! The camera above is an Ansco Cadet, a nifty little 127 format camera that was made in the late 1950s. I dug this camera out of my parents’ basement, and learned that they purchased it back in 1960 to bring on their honeymoon.  This camera has been in my family, then, for over 50 years.

I kept the Cadet in my home for a long, long time, and all the while it served no other purpose other than looking good on the shelf. The shutter was stuck and I just assumed it was broken, with no hope of ever firing another frame. But I very recently decided to inspect the camera further. I opened it up, played around with every moving part, put it back together, and doubting completely that anything different would happen after all these years, hit the shutter release.

“Ka-Click”

No way. There’s no way that just worked. Cranked the film advance and fired again.

“Ka-Click”

I can’t really put into words how exciting it was to hear that sound and see the camera’s shutter move so smoothly. It was time to find a roll of 127, and it turns out that only one place in the city that I know of carries that format (you rock, Glass Key!). Picked up a pack of both black and white and color, good for 12 frames per roll, and went through both of them in one little afternoon with the wife and the Suki:

Shooting with the Ansco is pretty interesting, to say the least. I had to tape up parts the body here and there to prevent light leaks. There are only 2 control points: the shutter release button, and a toggle switch between B&W and Color, which basically gives you two different apertures. Light meter? Of course not. Focus control? Sorry. Shutter control? Nope. It does fire though, which is all that really matters:

I had a hard time finding a place to develop this film, and it wasn’t cheap, so I may need to start developing the black and whites myself. On top of that, I had to take it to another place entirely to have scans and prints done. Goodness!

Here’s the color roll:

All in all, pretty happy with the results. Incidentally, I had the opportunity to share all of these prints with a small group of artists at Photobooth’s monthly portfolio night this week. It was a wonderful experience. Lately I’ve been used to sharing my photos on my blog or Flickr page or whatever other online service I’ve been using these days. But sitting down in person with others that have a passion and a respect for the art of creating photographs, laying real prints on a table, and sharing in thoughtful discussion with one another…that’s an entirely different experience altogether. I left that event more inspired than ever to continue my journey with the Cadet.

Oops. Where’s the Nano Coating? 😉

19 thoughts on “This Ain’t Your Father’s Film Camera. Wait, Yes It Is.

  1. It’s such a lovely fact that the camera came from your parents’ honeymoon trip. I agree with sharing photos with people in person. I’ve been holding out on uploading much for a while because my pictures are just the same without much breakthroughs and don’t feel like I can add much to the community. If only I can break out of my shell and attend some in person groups…

  2. I didn’t know the camera, but I just love the result! You’re lucky to have Photobooth in the neighborhood? :))

  3. You could try the SF Photo Center at 50 Scott Street (at Duboce). It’s in the Harvey Milk Bldg run by the SF Parks & Rec Dept. They have black and white facilities, approx 35 enlargers (both for 35mm & MF), and will wash/dry prints for you. No color though. Cost is $50/year for membership and an additional $5/day (6 hrs/day max) you use the facilities. Or you pay $200/year with no additional payment.

  4. hmmmm! i didn’t know that photobooth did that. i’d love to go to that type of an event… although i would probably also be really nervous! it’s one thing getting criticism on the interwebs, but in person?

    but still! i’d love to try that out sometime.

  5. Dude, the shot of the coin-operated toy machines (whatever those are called… I was gonna say ‘gumball machine’ but there isn’t any candy in them!) is sooo goooood. The muted but still somehow vibrant colors it produced are beautiful. Definitely can’t wait to see this adventure continue!

  6. Love the images, but even thou i like black and white, the color picts look much better to me. Great feeling on both, but like more the color ones. The last one, with the haze and blur has such a great feeling in it.

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