If you spend any time on “film photography twitter” you’ll have heard about the CULT (allegedly) that is the Sh*tty Camera Challenge. The rules are simple: find a camera that costs less than a roll of film and see what you can do with it.
This time around we were given a bit more time (3 months) than in previous editions, which is a good thing since I moved from Madagascar to Burundi and had to wait for all my film stuff since you can’t exactly drop off your film in downtown Bujumbura.
Back in August I acquired my camera: a handsome bright red plastic specimen that looked like a toy plastic from the 1990s or so. I had stopped by a camera shop in Pretoria, South Africa called Ludwig’s Photographic and when I walked in I saw he had a huge collection of vintage cameras stacked on shelves all over his shop. I looked at a couple of Kodak Retinas and picked up a tiny Minox for a very reasonable price, and when I expressed interest in the Braun, he threw it in for free.
It’s a cute little camera with an automatic flash and what appears to be autofocus. It was a bit cranky in terms of operation – I had to fiddle with it quite a bit before the shutter button would work, and if you forgot to shut it off the battery died pretty quick (and it won’t let you take photos without a working flash). But I took it along with me on a business trip to Geneva and gave it my best.
It turns out that according to the limited information available on the internet, the Braun camera company was started in 1915 but they stopped producing cameras in the 1960s because they had trouble competing with the Japanese. Given this new information, I was much more impressed with the fact that this 60+ year old camera still functioned at all! Incidentally, the company still exists, but they now sell photo- and optics-related accessories.
So how were the results? Surprisingly, there weren’t as many blank spots on the film as I had feared. I had chosen a gloomy time to visit Geneva, and thus the photos are a bit underexposed, and the Fuji 400H film in many cases has a lot of noise. A number of photos are also out of focus. But in retrospect it performed remarkably well, and it’s all in the spirit of the #sh*ttychallenge.