My Fotron Experience:
Found this Fotron at a favorite antique mall in Wheeler, Oregon. It came with its original leather case, warranty and a promotional brochure. There’s even a film cartridge attached to the back. I was willing to pay the stated price of $12.50 but it turned out that the owner was having a half price sale and I got it for $6.25!
The film inside the cartridge is 828. The film counter is pointing to six. Everything on the paperwork says the camera takes color pictures. Considering the vintage of the camera, I’m going to assume the film inside is C22 process. Next time I’m experimenting with C22 I just might make an attempt to develop it. *
The brochure was worth the $6.25. (No sales tax in OR.)
So, here’s the rub; I didn’t get the re-charger cord. I opened the camera up, thinking I might be able to find something to replace the battery. Turns out it isn’t a battery as I know it. It’s a bunch of wires and capacitors and stuff like that, all gooey…it’s PCB city in there! But man, the little plug-in thingy looks so darn familiar… YUP! My kitchen mixer cord will fit it!
The big question… should I plug it in? Okay…. so I’ve got the cord in one hand. I’ve got the camera in the other. I’ve now plugged the two together and I’m going to plug the cord into the wall. I’m leaning forward… going to plug the cord into the wall… no, I’m not afraid. Okay… here I go. I’m going to do it. If you don’t hear from me again you’ll know I’
Heh, heh. Just kidding… I plugged it in. The little light comes on and the bottom of the camera heats up but no signs of life other than that.
McKEOWN’S PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AND CLASSIC CAMERAS 2005-2006 states, “Fotron & Fotron III – Grey and black plastic cameras of the 1960’s, originally sold by door-to-door salesmen for prices ranging from $150-$300 and up. The cameras were made to take 10 exposures 1×1″ on special cartridges containing 828 film. They featured many high-class advancements such as built-in electronic flash with rechargeable batteries, electric film advance, etc. At the time these cameras were made, these were expensive features. Still, the Fotron camera campaign is considered by some to be the greatest photographic rip-off of the century. Later models will be marked as originating in Glendale, CA.” $30-$50.
More info than you ever wanted to know:
A Fotron update!
Years ago I attended a family gathering where there was a box of photos, etc. The box was there for the taking, “Or they’re going to get thrown away!” As you can tell from the state of this site, I can’t throw away anything even remotely pertaining to photographica. So I took the box. [They were gonna throw it away!] It contained papers and photos left behind by my mom’s cousin Mike. Well, I stuffed that box up in the loft of the old studio… it languished there for two years or so. Then one lonely stormy night I happened to be up in the loft, forgetting what it was I was looking for (a favorite pastime of mine). I came across Mike McCoy’s box. Sitting on the floor, drink in hand, I began leafing through his stuff. Half-heartedly at first … then with minor interest… eventually I became totally absorbed in Mike’s life. I’d never met him. Didn’t actually know anything about him. Why didn’t he want his box? I became engrossed in Mike’s life. [Ages ago, when I restored antique photographs using dyes – before the advent of that clickable “remove dust and scratches” button – I would often become engrossed… I’d have to remind myself, “Doooooon’t go into the picture…” Seriously. You begin to notice slight nuances unavailable to the average viewer who only spends mere seconds eyeing a photo. Anyway, my obsession with Mike’s life was something like that.] It turns out that Mike worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Mike had lots of photos of his guy friends. He took a lot of photos of his cats over the years. Most all of the photos were from the 50’s to 70’s with a few, older, exceptions. Mike had a variety of cars throughout his life….. it appears he built a good-sized home… some certificates from work… a couple of letters…never married…and, toward the bottom of the box and well into that fifth of Jim Beam, a formal letter. A letter to Mike’s mother from his fellow employees at the NRC extending their condolences regarding Mike’s death. Mike’s death? Mike’s dead? Of course Mike’s dead. I knew that. But now that I’d gotten to know him, it’s a shame. I took it kind of hard.
Flash forward a bunch of years. 2010 and I’m visiting my mom – after her second hip surgery. I’m sorting through the old family sh*t in the hallway cupboard when I lay eyes on this absolute GEM! Can you believe it? A FOTRON PICTORIAL RECORD! Where the heck did this come from? I brought it out into the light. My mom glances at it and says, “Oh that was Mike McCoy’s.” Of course! If I were in a quiz show and the question was “What kind of camera did Mike McCoy own?” Mike McCoy worked for the NRC! Immediately – Fotron. Final answer. But who knew? There was no hint of it in the infamous box. Anyway, At the time I’d never heard of one. Now I’ve owned two. Lucky lucky lucky me!
*I processed that roll I found inside the camera. C22 processed as b&w. The processing did absolutely nothing to help this already terrible camera.
Check out Mike Eckman’s informative Fotron article. You have to scroll past a lot of ads, but it’s worth it.