Here is a super simple 127-format camera from 1960. The Kalimar “Colt 44”, also known as the Kalimar 44, also known as the Anny 44, is about one step up from a box camera. As with many other cameras with a ’44’ designation, it takes twelve square 4x4cm frames on a roll of 127 film.
It’s designed to look like a rangefinder, but really it’s just a fake-out. The ‘focus lever’ is actually a lock for the shutter release, with the ‘rangefinder window’ turning red when the shutter is locked, and black when the camera is ready to shoot.
The fixed-focus lens has a focal length of 60mm, and is set to capture subjects from 5 feet to infinity. The camera has a single fixed shutter speed of roughly 1/60th – not even a bulb setting. The only thing you can control is the aperture, which can be set from f/8 to f/22. An indicator on the lens barrel suggests f/8 and f/11 for colour film, and f/16 and f/22 for black & white.
The 127 format is nearly obsolete, but there are a few places still selling fresh / new film, such as the Frugal Photographer. You can also respool 35mm film with a 127 spool and backer paper, but you will have sprocket holes in the image. Or skinny panoramic images, if you crop out the sprockets.
One other funky thing with this camera, it has an accessory shoe (not a hot shoe) and it has a PC connector, but it is not an X-sync — it’s an M-sync. This means it is timed for old ‘medium’ flash bulbs. Meaning, it triggers the flash about 20 milliseconds before the shutter is opened. So with an electronic flash, the flash is over and done with before the shutter has fully opened. So even though the camera looks like you can use a flash, it’s no-go. Unless you have some bulbs, that is…
All in all, the Colt 44 reminds me of the Holga, in fact. It is smaller, and made of metal and glass rather than plastic. And where the Holga has fixed exposure and zone focus, the Colt 44 has fixed focus and lets you set the aperture… ok in fact the Colt 44 and Holga are really nothing alike. Yet they still remind me of each other all the same.
The shots below were taken on a generic “store brand” colour negative 35mm film that was made by Fuji.
Souped, as usual, in my exhausted C41 chemistry. By exhausted I mean, it’s nearly the end of the road for that batch. Soon I’ll have to bid it fare well, wash out the containers, and prepare a shiney new batch. Then I’ll have to reset all my timers and start over.