The first weekend in June 2020, our family hit up a neighborhood garage sale, and my son (age 8 at the time) “borrowed” 50 cents to buy this camera.
Appropriately enough, the Vivitar cv35 was marketed as “an ideal first camera for young people and beginning photographers.” If he hadn’t seen it first, I might have bought it myself, though; I’m a sucker for trashcams and toy cameras.
Its main distinguishing features on the surface are its translucent body, a built-in sliding lens cover, and a flash powered by one AA battery. However, it also has a two-element lens, which is a step up from most cheap plastic cameras from the 90’s. Cameras like this can produce unique results with vignetting and sketchy focus, so I was eager to load it up and take it for a spin.
I found these three Herbert George cameras at the antique mall last March. I paid $37 for all three, which was more than I’d usually pay per box camera, but I have a soft spot for Herbert George Imperial cameras for some reason.
The Herco Imperial and the Imperial Six-Twenty are clearly identical rebranded cameras, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to see how two “identical” cameras would compare to each other.
I loaded up the Six-Twenty last April for a test run, and discovered that it does not accept 120 spools; the spools are too tall. Some suggest sanding down the ends of the 120 spool, but instead, I respooled a roll of Ektar 100 onto a 620 spool. I suspected film plane issues right off the bat, as the tension seemed off while winding on — so much so that the bottom of the take-up spool kept coming unseated. Luckily, my fears were unfounded.
I picked up this Nikon One Touch Zoom 70 AF for two bucks last February at my favorite thrift store (which has since closed — RIP, Savers).
I loaded it up with my last roll of 35mm 400-speed film, only to discover that it made a crazy grinding noise with each advance of the film. The first 8 exposures or so were different nighttime views of the living room as I was debating whether to continue the roll or give up entirely.
I ended up deciding to leave the film loaded and just take some snaps around the house over time instead of taking it on a photo walk downtown.
I finished up the roll over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, just snapping indoor photos at home. I experimented with selfies using the timer, portraits with different flash modes, zoom distances — all the while expecting that the photos weren’t going to come out, anyway. That grinding noise is ominous.
Of course, since I didn’t record info on any of the photos, it turns out that the camera works just fine.
Ever since I discovered that 110 SLRs existed, and that there were multiple models by multiple manufacturers, I made it my mission to collect them. I love my Pentax 110 SLR, so why not catch ’em all?
The film advance on the Mark II had been stuck since I got it at a yard sale back in the Summer of 2016. I finally got it working in early February 2017 by cleaning the battery contacts with a pencil eraser and loading fresh LR44 batteries. I actually had to polish the batteries on my jeans and avoid getting any fingerprints on the poles for the camera to recognize the batteries, though, which was a new one on me.
Once I had the camera working, I loaded up the Mark II with Lomo “Tiger” 200 speed film and headed out to the local metropark to start photographing.
I purchased the Brownie Twin 20 at Savers (a thrift store) for $4 two years ago, and discovered an ancient roll of Ansco black-and-white still loaded with only four or five exposures used. Unsurprisingly, the found photos didn’t come out, and neither did the photos I attempted to take on the remainder of the roll.
Finally, a year and a half later, I did a real test of the Twin 20! Back in February, I loaded it up with Ektar 100 speed, spooled onto a 620 spool.