Conway "Popular"

I have been working a lot the past few weeks, preparing for the lack of funds over the winter break. That combined with the rain and the short days does not make for many opportunities to use cameras like this one. I liked the look of this camera from the start. As a bonus it was easy to take apart and clean. Just undo the screw at the front and the mirrors are accessible.

For me, the best thing about this camera was the “Made in England” proudly displayed on the front. Searching for information on the camera proved a little fruitless, there isn’t much. I found nothing but photos of this version, with very little test attached. A very similar camera has more written about it, stating it was on sale around 1955. The company has a bit more information to be found. This site says it was based in Birmingham and originally called Standard Cameras Ltd, they also made Coronet cameras. Any other information you need has to be garnered by looking at the photos.

* There is a closeup and distance setting on the lens barrel.
* There is a green filter option, accessed with a slider on the side, to be used with foliage to make the shades more natural and dark green leaves lighter.
* There are two large, bright viewfinders for portrait or landscape shots.
* There is no tripod mount or cable release which is unfortunate as the shutter speed is probably around 1/40th-1/50th
* The aperture is set, probably to f11
* There is a bulb setting, again there is no tripod or cable release to make using this function more effective.
* The camera accepts 120 or 620 film. I used 120 but I found the film hard to advance so I think the 620 roll would be a better fit.
* The film is placed in the camera opposite to regular box cameras. You insert on the bottom and transfer to the top.
* There are two hooks to keep the camera closed. On my version they would slip off and leave the camera prone to opening slightly. It would be better to tape those down while using it.

I can’t think of anything else. So here are my test shots taken around Victoria Tower, Huddersfield. I went to this location as it was a lovely but cold sunny day, and we haven’t had a lot of those recently. This place would be a bit tricky to get to on a bad winter’s day as it is really exposed.

When I developed the film I was excited to see the results. On the negative, the images looked clear, sharp and contrasty. But on scanning, you can see a few soft spots on them. The focusing drifts throughout the shots. The last one was a timed shot taken inside of my father reading as the rain came back. I held the camera on a sturdy book for about 30 seconds, with the near setting activated, though I don’t think a tripod would have helped with the softness of the focus.

Though I do still like the look of the camera, I doubt I will use it again. The images are too soft and the winder was too stiff.

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