Purma Special

At first glance, this camera appears too big for its britches. In classic, hulking 1930s Bakelite this 127 fixed-focus camera is a bit on the portly side. But there’s a reason for that, which we’ll get to in a minute.  With its Beck lens , it’s not a loser, baby and love is what it’s got. [Sorry, couldn’t resist.] This Bakelite beauty is rumored to have famous origins. Since I can’t verify that, I’m not going to mention it. But supposedly it was designed by the same guy who designed the Anscoflex.

I was in England and trying to lighten my load of junk store cameras. In a place called Mr. Magpie in Brighton I saw some super cute British cameras. The proprietor was willing to trade (yes, I know … trading is not lightening the load). I offered up an Argus c3. He said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” and we each walked away knowing we’d got the better end of the deal.

Here’s why this camera is so chunky: it’s a shutter mechanism that is activated by a counter weight. On either side of the viewfinder are the words “fast” and “slow”. The image is a square format, so it doesn’t matter whether you hold the camera horizontally or vertically. HOWEVER, the position of the camera affects the shutter speed. Check it out on my youtube video located here.

It’s one of those 127 cameras where you advance the film until the number 1 is in the first window. Take the picture, then advance until the number 1 is in the second window – and so on.

I reloaded some Ilford HP-5 35mm film onto a 127 film spool. Here are my results: Click on any image for a larger view.

Oyhut, WA “I like to look up.”


Oyhut, WA


Redwoods, CA


Redwoods, CA


My back yard.


Hawkeye and his Brownie Hawkeye – on my hood,


So, there you have it!


Mr. Magpie. In Brighton, England.


  1. Mark Jensen

    Is your Mr. Magpie link supposed to take me to a site entirely in Japanese? Or maybe it’s Chinese.

    • Marcy Merrill

      Mark: Nope. It’s not. Thanks for the heads up! -Marcy

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