The Purma Camera Book: A Vintage Camera Guide – Using and Buying Purma Cameras

Purma cameras have some unique features.  From the Purma Camera Book –

The focal plane is curved, with a solid metal, curved focal-plane shutter with three speeds, controlled by a weight, which varied the slit-width.

The Purma Special shutter is cocked using a pear-shaped lever on the top edge, above the lens with the slit width/shutter speed depends on which way up the camera is held. Horizontal gives medium speed, vertical with winding knob down gives slow, and vertical, knob up, fast. The shutter is cocked using the film winder on the Purma Plus.

The lens is sprung to telescope out of the body and is held closed with a screw-on lens cap. Capping (and so collapsing) the lens locks the shutter release – which, unusually, is on the photographer’s left when viewed from the top of the camera.

The ever-ready case opens upwards from underneath the lens, unlike most cases, which open forward from the back.

The Purma Special is said to be the first camera to have plastic optics, although this is in the viewfinder only.

Three Purma cameras went into production which lasted more than twenty years.

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Picking up a camera that is 50 or more years old, understanding how it works, using it in the field and obtaining a set of unique photographs can be very rewarding. There are many how to books whether they are original camera manuals or photography technique books, but I found few books that help a photographer get the most from using old and vintage cameras in today’s world.

I chose to use Purma cameras as they are a somewhat eccentric series of cameras, relatively easy to use and readily available at a reasonable price from auction sites, car boot fairs, Facebook Marketplace, etc. The shutter mechanism, lens and body are all simple and it is therefore usually possible to understand whether a Purma camera is usable upon first inspection. The only issue that photographers may need to navigate is the supply of 127 film. It is available from some film suppliers or sourced by adapting 120 film. This book is a compilation of information from several out of print publications, web resources and my own observations and experience of using Purma cameras. I have taken the opportunity to update both the content and grammar of the out of print publications to make them more readable and helpful to photographers using a vintage camera in the twenty twenties.

The Purma Camera Guide is available as a Paperback and a Kindle ebook

Source printed materials:

Focal Press – The Purma Guide (1952)

Purma Cameras – Purma Special instruction manual

Purma Cameras – Purma Plus instruction manual

Purma Cameras – Purma Speed instruction manual

Also includes:

The Purma Camera Company history & marketing

Using the Purma Special & Purma Plus

Photos taken with Purma Cameras




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