Camera Speed Dating – Purma Special

Those that know Meghan and I know that we have what appears to be an on going camera acquisition problem. To remedy this but continue to try out ALL of the cameras we have decided to start borrowing cameras from our fellow camera enthusiasts instead of trying to purchase or hoard them all to ourselves. Not all are winners though and some are just easier or more fun to use but you have to shoot with them first to find out! Thus, we decided if we run a roll through every camera we are interested in, not unlike going on a 5 minute date with a bunch of strangers at a singles night, we can quickly see which are worthy of being added to our collection (or put on our list of “must haves.”) Camera speed dating!

Here is the most recent camera I had the pleasure of a date with….the Purma Special 127.


A few quick facts about the Purma Special, made in England from 1937 to early 50’s. Its made of Bakelite and has a rather unique design. Its actually pretty clever if you ask me, it sports a curved focal plane shutter which has three speeds, its neat how one changes speeds, by positioning the camera differently when framing your photo, you achieve a slow 1/25, medium 1/150 or fast 1/450 shutter speed by keeping the camera horizontal or vertically framing to the left or right. It is referred to as gravity controlled.

I spied this camera at the fall Vancouver Camera show, the one held at the Croatian Cultural center twice a year. The gentleman had two of these, one was perfect and out of my price range and the other was not so perfect and STILL pricey, however it was Bakelite and had a unique shape — only after did I realize just how unique it was. It took me a while to finish my roll, I admit to being nervous about carrying it around with me because of its slippery exterior and odd shape, I am clumsy and it begged to escape my grasp and tumble down. Like with all my other “box” style point & shoot-esque Bakelite cameras I assumed 4 feet was the close the focus only to find that I either misjudged 4 feet OR the close focus is actually 6 feet or more! One thing I noticed is it must have a better Anastigmat lens in it than most because my photos seemed uncharacteristically sharp. Also because of its different shutter speeds I was able to get good photos in all types of light. This is definitely one of the keepers, makes me wish now that I’d sprung for the pristine one.


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Beau Photo Supplies Inc.
Beau Photo Supplies Inc.