Thursday, October 22, 2009

Polaroid copycat: Keystone 60 Second Everflash!

Okay, quicky review here for fun. I bought this thing for $4 on a whim. The Keystone camera was made by Berkey, which seem to be an electronics company that made calculators and cameras (film and movie). Not sure who was on the design team, but Keystone cameras are some of the ugliest available. Some are so ugly, they aren't even "cool" ugly...they are just ugly! The biggest 126 camera ever is a Keystone.

So...Polaroids. They must have had a license with Polaroid to produce what are basically ugly copycats of Polaroid products. Check out this horrible 600 camera. The camera I bought is known as the 60 Second Everflash (also sold as the Rapid-Shot with no flash and red trim instead of blue).

Now, sure it's not attractive...and it's an obvious mockery of your typical hard case Polaroid - your Super Shooters and Colorpacks. But! It's actually quite an interesting bit of plastic. It's kind of a combination of various ideas from different Polaroid cameras. Above, note the button to open the back instead of the metal/plastic bar most Polaroids use to keep the back shut. And I love the pleather back. Maybe it provides padding for your cheek and nose.
Okay, the shutter system. A Polaroid hard case shutter is just one single button that does it all. The Keystone has a two-step shutter system like the folding Polaroids.

Step 1 is to cock the shutter. Step 2 is focus (there is a 2 above the lens). Step 3 is press the blue button! Wheee!
Next up is the obvious flash unit on top of the camera, like many of the 600 Polaroids. This is actually a great idea. The name is referring to the flash being there forever, but not sure what the 60 seconds means...60 seconds to charge? And an Everflash is a great idea....except it doesn't work. Not at all. No powering up, the test button does nothing, no flash. Not ever. The bulb must be burned out...not sure if this is something that can be fixed?
Then we have the electronic timer on the side. Only a few Polaroid cameras feature an electronic timer.

Another great idea! doesn't work. The red light stays for awhile after you pull the film, but nothing happens. I assume it works much the same as the electronic timer on some of the folders. You set it and it activates when you pull the film from the camera.
And speaking of batteries, this camera takes three AA. I assume to provide ample power for that flash and timer. That don't work. But they control exposure, as well, so they have to be there.

The battery compartment is on the underside. The Keystone has two exposure settings: Color and B&W.

Color means ISO 80 and B&W means ISO 3000. Also present is the lighten/darken knob, and it focuses the same as every hard case Polaroid.
One thing that kind of bugged me when using it was the placement of the viewfinder. Not sure why, but I kept going for the left side, but the finder is on the right! does it work? Was it worth $4? Even with all the broken bits? Yep. Check out some shots from the camera (with Type 669, expired 12-2003, except for a single Fuji FP-100C shot)...

Very similar to the hard case Polaroids! But somehow different...maybe because it has a glass lens? But the depth of field is fantastic, and the blur is super silky. It has some of the same exposure issues in lower light that my Colorpack III has, where it can't decide whether to expose light or dark.

And the parallax is off and aims more towards the ground like most cheap cameras, so it's easy to lose what you were aiming for at the top...

But, overall a fairly competent (and ambitious) camera!

I'll be back soon enough with some more interesting stuff I have in the works. Adios!