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Classic Marque - the Purma Plus

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by gray1720, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    At long last, I hear you cry, we reach the final Purma camera. Once again it used the tried and tested three shutter speeds, controlled by gravity, but once again the new model of camera was distinctly different in use to its predecessor. Oh, and I use the rem classic much as various car magazines do so - if it hasn't fallen off the road by now, it must be a classic. Someone somewhere must be deranged enough to love a Morris Ital...

    Even before you take the Purma Plus from its never-ready case, it is apparent that things have changed – the Plus is much heavier than the Special, 900 grams or so compared to the Speed’s 500. While not quite up to Zenit or Nikon levels of battle tank solidity, it weighs exactly the same as my Edixa Flex, a German SLR of much the same period, does when complete with 50mm lens.

    With the case undone, the differences are even clearer. Gone is that sexy, shiny rhomboid to be replaced by a considerably more angular shape with a long central hump on top, perhaps aping those SLRs? The top and bottom plates are finished in glossy hammered metal paint much like Hammerite, while the bits in between are mostly crinkle-finish black paint or naked aluminium. It sounds tacky but on a well looked after Plus actually looks rather good. Many that hit Ebay have not been well looked after, though, so are often shabby, dirty and corroding. I was lucky enough to be offered a very clean example. Mine also has the fetching red enamel badge not shared with all versions of the Plus. Not that that influenced my decision or anything...


    At last the Plus has a tripod bush, and as a result gains a Bulb setting, activated by turning the shutter release (not the camera, for once) ninety degrees. The tripod bush also acts as the lock to the back of the camera, and unscrewing it allows the back to be slid off downwards. Uncovered is the familiar curved focal plane shutter, though there has obviously been some modification as the bob weight visible on the Special when the shutter is held open is hidden deeper inside the camera. Similarly to the Special, a lens hood and a range of supplementary lenses were available – the concept must have worked well enough with the Special to be thought worthy of continuation. The Plus also gained it’s own special flash gun, and a cable release socket as well, making it much closer to the affordable system camera than it’s forebear.

    So, what is it like to use this beast? That’s where the fun starts. Ignoring the supply problem of 127 film now, loading the camera and winding on are much as its predecessors, with the two red windows in the camera back. In common with its ancestors removing the lens cap pops out the lens assembly, and also unlocks the shutter. Similarly, the lens is a 2 ¼” Beck anastigmat, though with added refinement of being “bloomed” (i.e. coated) on the front and rear. For some reason, focus is fixed at 12 feet rather than the Special’s 10 feet.

    The real shock is reserved for that first expectant peer into the viewfinder. There are squinty viewfinders, and there are squinty viewfinders, but Plus has the worst viewfinder I have ever used – worse even than the early Kodak Retina rangefinders. The rear lens is just 3mm across (set in a cunning pictogram of an eye with the speeds marked around it, just in case you are thinking of applying your ear to it), and peering myopically into the tiny opening reveals very little – the viewfinder is blocked! Winding the film on cocks the shutter, and also removes the block which cranks into the top casing somewhere. Even so, it is like peering at something a long way off through a particularly skinny keyhole! Admittedly I am slightly long sighted (about +1), but I cannot imagine that anyone found it easy to use, least of all spectacle wearers, who must have been seriously inconvenienced. No applying the rule of thirds here, or having your shooting data conveniently displayed, it’s more peer and hope!
    Pressing the shutter makes an impressive noise as one would imagine a guillotine, and the camera bucks noticeably in the hand, especially at the top speed – a supposed 1/500[SUP]th[/SUP] of a second.


    What are the pictures like?

    Views by gray1720, on Flickr

    Snow looks good in b and w shock by gray1720, on Flickr

    If you doubt the claims to 1/500th top speed, he isn't the world's fastest bowler - strictly military medium - but nonetheless the shutter has frozen him in mid air
    Luvverly action! by gray1720, on Flickr

    You can even compose moving objects despite the horrible viewfinder (OK, sort of)!

    Row, row, row your boat by gray1720, on Flickr

    Nowadays the Purma range are just curiosities, but they were produced until about 1960 (latterly as the only camera to be made in Wales) which isn't a bad run. Admittedly it was interrupted by WW2, but that simple gravity-driven shutter was built from 1936 to 1960 and the number of Specials and Pluses on Ebay suggest that they sold well. Perhaps they never rivalled the better class of cameras on quality, but they certainly delivered an intriguing specification and outshone the myriad cheaper offerings of Kodak, Coronet and the like at a bargain price.

    (anyone who has read this far deserves a prize - look through my Flickr set of cameras, choose anything you fancy, PM me, and I'll see if I can come up with a review)
  2. PeteE

    PeteE Well-Known Member

    Re: Classic Marque - the Purma Plus ( Too Many cameras !

    I looked at your Flickr -- 79 camera photos !! -- well I had better not let my Wife see your cameras as she tells ME off for 'Keeping all that Old Rubbish' ! ---- ( Trying desperately to hide some cameras in an already packed cupboard --- )
  3. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    I've run out of hiding places....
  4. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I don't mention her books, she doesn't mention my cameras...

    EightBitTony likes this.
  5. RW Jemmett

    RW Jemmett New Member


    I would love to use your Purma Photos for. gallery I am adding to a book that I am self-publishing about Purma Cameras. I will add an attribute to you of course. Can you let me know whether this would be Ok please?

    I will also add a link to you from my dedicated Purma Camera page on my website - I have created a draft - https://rwjemmett.com/linkpage/purma-cameras-linkpage/

    Many thanks

  6. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

  7. RW Jemmett

    RW Jemmett New Member

    Many thanks it is is appreciated.

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