What a quirky little camera. It's been a while since a newly acquired camera has given me pause--made me think, "hmmm. what have we here?" Maybe it's because it has been a while since I've tested a new camera and the whole testing process seems somewhat new and novel again--like there's something to appreciate with each and every new acquisition. (and believe me, this has not always been the case. . .far from it!) Or maybe it is the case that the Wirgin Junior folding camera is actually pretty cool, pretty quirky.
A bit of background: I saw this item listed on ebay when I was searching for exposed film. It was about the time when I told myself that I wouldn't be buying any new (new to me, anyway) cameras unless they were tlr's. I should have known that once I made this commitment, I'd find a way to break it. Anyhoot. I was intrigued with the camera cause I could find so little specifically on or about this camera--not even on flickr. There is some info there on Wirgin cameras generally, but not really much of anything on the Wirgin Junior. What little I found seems to be incorrect. This fixed focused camera has two shutter settings, 1/50 and B. And it takes 12 6x6 shots, not, as indicated elsewhere, 6x9 shots. The camera itself is in great shape. I got it [the camera] along with the box, manual (both in minty condition) and the exposed roll of film for 20 bucks. [As an aside: The exposed roll of film was pretty much a bust--only three or four exposures had been made, and none of these were particularly interesting. . .didn't really do much by way of making me eager to test this one.]
The camera had been loaded (with artista edu 100 speed film) and ready to test for the past month or so. I just never got around to testing it. Till yesterday, that is.
Images like this make me think the Wirgin might actually out-Holga the Holga. . .or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it might out-Diana the Diana. Well, almost. I was a little surprised that the images came out as underexposed (or dark) as they did. I worried that even 100 speed film might be too fast for the 1/50 shutter setting. I'm thinking next time around, I definitely want to go with 400 if not something higher. The images of the Thomas Viaduct below where also among my favorites on the test roll. They don't suggest Holga to me in the way the guard rail image here does, but I'm pretty fond of them.
Here's my main complaint: The lens appears to be way too soft to handle distance combined with lots of detail very well. Things get fuzzy, bunchy, blurry. Contrast, for instance, the image of Lost Lake left with the one below. The rail and cattails in the foreground of the image below help me make sense of the composition as a whole--gives me something(s) upon which to focus/anchor my understanding of the scene. I still have to do some more experimenting with distance here but I'm thinking that this camera might work best at greater distances with simple/singular subjects (like the viaduct) but will likely do the best job when I'm about 5 feet from whatever I'm attempting to photograph. Another complaint, albeit a minor one, is that it's hard to tell--based on the sound the shutter makes, how it feels when I depress the shutter button, etc.--if the shutter has actually fired. Although I had made sure it worked before loading the camera with film, I had this worrisome feeling while working with the camera that all my shots would be blank. They weren't of course. A small, good quirk: When I began scanning these negatives, I realized that it appears as though I have created my own jagged mask for the film plane. I haven't. I realized that I cropped the jagged parts out of most of the shots here, but you can see a little of what I'm talking about at the bottom of the guard rail image above.
I've included a number of other images from the test roll here as well. As I try to do with every new camera I acquire and test, I had to get the Wirgin Junior's take on the bend as well as the swinging bridge. I was, on this same outing, taking infrared images with my Twilight Zone Holga, so the second to last image below depicts the moments before I took some Holga infrared shots of the bend. [Note: Images were developed with Diafine]