The small 35mm viewfinder camera with it’s fake rangefinder window in front is the Dacora Dignette. Sounding like something from the 1992 and not when it was first introduced in 1962. It certainly not digital or even a functioning camera for that matter either. Actually it’s as broken as can be! but that’s the start of the story…
It was Sunday once again, I had cycled upriver to the car boot sale. On the prowl, as I walked by the tables where folks had laid out their wares. It’s the usual affair, old board games, plastic jewellery, boxes of random cables, record LPs, secondhand clothes and various household items from the nineteen eighties.
Among the rummage I found the Dacora (which included a grey leather case made actually in Austria to my surprise). The camera was sadly in appearance and very much water damaged. The shutter wouldn’t fire, complete stuck and closed up. Pretty much a lost cause. Should I place it back to be lost in time to a carton it came from with all the unsorted paraphernalia ?
But somehow I like the look and name that went with it – Dignette. Like Digital but it’s analog of course. Not a microchip or battery in sight. The metal camera with it’s faux blue grey leather had a working film mechanism. Could I use it I thought ? Could I even fix it ?
The Dacora Dignette in fact is very simple to open and take apart. Inside the camera where film would go are four tiny black flathead screws. Unscrewing them removes the front lens plate with it’s shutter and some springs.
It also smelt rather odd being water damaged. It stank like a wet old dog.
After trying to repair the shutter, I realise I would need to purchases a tool to loose the ring keeping the back lens element in place. That was out of my budget and I had only paid a mere two euros for the non-functioning device. The seller I guess was glad to get shut of it even for the low price I had offered. It also smelt rather odd being water damaged. It stank like a wet old dog. Hence why I haven’t used the leather case, it’s still hangs outside on my balcony. In the hope the rotten scent clears.
What to do with this broken retro camera called the Dignette ? I left it for a few weeks. Then the day came where I had decided it shall be a pinhole camera. I had some pinholes made from previous experimenting
Using a ‘Pinhole Camera Calculator’ App on my android phone to get an idea of exposure. I used Ilford PanF ISO 50, which is one stop less, making the exposure time of one second. This was practical for managing the makeshift plastic shutter. The shutter happen to be the lid off a film canister held reasonably tight with a couple of turn of an elastic band. It proved effective and results are reliable in most of the exposure. Of course the need of a tripod is essential at 1 second exposure.
More on Pinhole…
Multiple Aperture Pinhole Cameras from Jeff Korte on Vimeo.
How do I rate this camera
Best for sunny days and good light, because of it’s fixed exposure.
Fun Factor: Yes, not too serious
Build Quality: It was until I came along!
Ease of Use: Easy