I saw this camera advertised on Facebook Marketplace for a very reasonable price. I had been looking out for one after using the VPKs recently. It looked like this example was in good condition on the photos so I sent the seller a message. On seeing the camera I was impressed by how clean it was. Even the case was immaculate.
This is a 127 camera that takes a 6.5x4cm negative. It is a lot like the VPK in size and look. The main difference being the Piccolette’s film cassette which is removed from the bottom and in my opinion makes the camera easier to load. There is a dial to lock the cassette in place.
The camera required a minimal cleaning, but was very easy to do. The lens section just screwed off. I noticed small indents on one side of the lens and tried to twist it which split the lens into its two elements. The larger glass element was loose so I had to be careful not to drop it. The design made cleaning all the glass very easy. I was impressed by how smoothly it unscrewed even after all these years.
The viewfinder could be cleaned without disassembly so I went with that option. It was already fairly clean and the small size meant it would be tricky to use anyway so I decided not to tempt fate.
The bellows were perfect, so only a slight dusting was needed. Oh to extent the bellows, there is a small metal button on the bottom of the camera. Press the button and pull the curved part on the front until you hear a click. To replace the front and bellows, just push it firmly. It will return to the resting position with the viewfinder in either portrait or landscape articulations as it folds out of the way.
The front of the camera, on the lens mount, you will find the aperture controls and the speed selection. The aperture sizes were rubbed off slightly and tricky to see, but they seemed to range from about f6.5 to f36. The speeds choices were 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T.
I loaded the camera with expired Ilford FP4 plus rated about 50 asa, so I decided to leave the camera on f6.? and 1/100th. The speed selector didn’t have a visible dot or indicator to know which you have chosen. By playing with the dial I found the closest position to the lens was the correct placement. On a close up photo I could see there is a tiny green mark which makes me think there used to be a dot.
The shutter release is located behind the lens plate and moved very smoothly. For a 90-100 year old camera, it was in remarkable condition, much better than my VPKs of the same era.
As I said, I loaded mine with expired FP4 as film from that era would be slow and that was the only slow film I had available at the time that wasn’t Fomapan. When I have cut film using the FCK127 using Fomapan in the past, the negatives were badly scratched. I wanted to see if another film type would help that issues.
Here are the results from my test roll.
Well, no scratching even though the roll was tight in the camera. I did cut the paper down as much as possible to make the roll thinner, but it was still tight inside the camera. It made winding the film a bit stiff at times. Usually there are 8 shots to a roll of 127, but 120 is longer so I managed to get 9 on this one.
I am impressed by the sharpness of the lens, much clearer than my VPKs. Plus they are all fairly straight, I always struggle with that issue. I could see just enough in the viewfinder to judge the aspects. The smoothness of the shutter and the 1/100th speed meant there was no camera shake.
I like this camera much more than the VPKs and will probably use it again. It is a keeper for sure.