The Debonair is a cheap, plastic camera originally manufactured in the 1980s by a factory in Hong Kong and sold in its original box with instruction manual by the good people at the Film Photography Podcast. I decided to pick up a Debonair camera just after I returned home from Christmas holiday as a little new year present. I’m really good at justifying new camera purchases for myself.
Once I ordered the camera it shipped quickly and arrived at my house within a week. I also received a free roll of expired 120 film with my purchase which I’ve tucked away for a special occasion. The Debonair camera looks like a hybrid between the Lomography Holga and Diana F+ cameras. The lens is almost exactly like that of the Holga. In fact, if you have Holga close-up filters or wide angle adapters, they’ll fit on the Debonair lens. The body of the camera reminds me of a much sturdier Diana F+. There is a lock on the bottom of the camera body and the entire back slides out when loading film. The film spools are held in place by plastic clips at the bottom which are much sturdier than the ones in my Diana F+.
It’s important to note that the Debonair does not shoot square 6×6 images, instead it shoots something closer to 5×6 which I find suits my shooting style. I like to have a little more width for landscape shots and height for portraits. Also important is the lack of tripod mount and bulb mode. If you follow my blog then you know of my penchant for long exposure for which a tripod mount and bulb mode are essential. Oh well, not a big deal really, that’s what my other cameras are for.
I did a little research online to determine the aperture and shutter speed which is supposedly f/8 and 1/100 on ‘sunny.’ Focusing is very similar to the plastic Lomography cameras – one head for 3-4 feet, 3 people for 4-6 feet, mountain for infinity. These are my guesses anyway.
I loaded up a roll of Ilford HP5+ and finished the roll of 16 frames in one day. It was a pleasure shooting this camera, and the quality of the images really surprised me. I wish my overpriced, overhyped Lomography Bel Air could produce results like these, but that’s a matter for a different post. I did notice odd light distribution, where low light areas have deeper shadows creating something like a vignette on that edge of the frame. There was also some light scratching on the negative from the film advancing over the plastic edges. Nothing a little tape can’t fix.
I really like this camera and look forward to more adventures. Mahalo!