Sunday, November 23, 2008

bratz cam

shortly after i began experimenting with different kinds of film cameras, i found this bratz cam. the good news is that it was more or less a freebie. . .

well, it was free provided that you purchased the bratz doll and this ended up posing a small problem since i couldn't justify spending 20 bucks for the camera and throwing the doll out. i could have, of course, tried giving the doll to one of the neighborhood kids but i wasn't sure how parents would feel about this. with my luck, i'd give it to someone whose parents had forbidden them to play with bratz dolls. as luck would have it, my mom found, purchased, and sent to me last month a deeply-discounted doll and cameras set. (in the end, i ended up keeping the doll even though i noted that one of the neighborhood kids does, in fact, ride a bratz bike and guessed at least her parents might not object to her receiving a free bratz doll.)

so, let the experimentation begin! . . . on second thought, if i'm being truthful, my response was more timid, less committed, less hopeful. more like, "let the experimentation begin?" at the time i received the bratz cam i had just experienced a run of really bad camera luck. it felt like everything i touched or tried to do came out the opposite of okay. first, there was the dead-spider-in-the-praktica-viewfinder situation that i was never able to solve. miraculously, i did find a post from another person--i think it may have been on flickr--who described having the same problem with his praktica. at first, i thought it might be the person who sold the camera to me but his was a different model. unfortunately, no one responded to his post and to this day, i wonder how the spider got in there. i tried taking the top off the camera, no luck. i got the screws out but the top wasn't budging. (again, left wondering how the spider got in there.) of course, it didn't need to be a total loss. i could always try to frame shots around (or inspite of) the spider, but it kinda made me queasy to look through the viewfinder.

and then there was the polaroid 225 misfortune. the camera only cost me 2 bucks "as is" and i was hoping that cleaning up the piggy little camera and installing a new battery would do the trick. no luck. i read up on how its electromagnetic shutter system worked, tried different tests to see if the shutter was firing as it should. no dice. 225 was placed in the "no bueno" box, where it is currently hanging with mr. praktica-with-spider. (fortunately the polaroid 220 I had purchased for 3 bucks arrived a few days after the bratz cam did and it works wonderfully--didn't even need a bath.)

also joining the 225 and the praktica in the "no bueno" box were the parts and pieces of two of the dollar store trashcams i had recently purchased and proceeded to break (or to not be able to get back together--at least not in working order) while attempting to flip their lenses. needless to say, when the bratz cam arrived, i was feeling like i had something decidely opposite of the midas touch when it came to cameras. and it didn't help that i had wanted the bratz cam for so long and that it was a gift from my mom. if i were to mess this one up to. . .well, i'm thinking that would have pushed me over the edge.

on the first modification. the great new was that the bratz cam is fairly idiot-proof when it comes to getting it apart and gaining access to the lens. unlike the other two trashcams in the "no bueno" box, i could flip the lens on the bratz cam and get the camera together again without messing up the shutter mechanism. the four pictures below were taken after i had inserted one of the lenses from one of the broken trashcams. i flipped, (lightly glued) and placed the other lens in the bratz cam. the lens was very similar in both size and shape to the lens that came with the bratz but this one had a little bit more plastic around the outside of the lens, making it easier to glue and hold in place. i was bummed when i scanned in the negatives--hanging there to dry, the negatives looked pretty promising. otherwise put, it appeared as though something would actually be in focus. no bueno.

on the second modification. i am, if nothing else, persistently hopeful. plus, i knew that i had at least two more lenses left to experiment with. and if all else failed, i could just use the camera as it was intended to be used--with the original non-flipped lens. for the next modification, i decided to insert and again lightly glue in place the lens from a suprema sunshine trashcam. compared with the original bratz lens and the lens used in the first modification, this lens was much larger and much flatter. i'm pretty sure i flipped it before putting it in place, but the lens was flat enough that it was kind of hard to tell.

once again, no point of focus but after viewing the negatives, i hadn't expected as much. but in this case, the images really grew on me. but maybe it had more to do with my actually working up the courage enough to drive myself somewhere (in this case, ellicott city) so that i could take pictures of things that were not in my house, backyard or on campus. . .

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