One of the Bencini (Italy) Comet 127 film cameras, 6x4.5 format 16 on 127 film. Made in the late 1940s/early 50's. This one is coming from Ebay, can't be bad for £2.50....it is the focusing model, and as flash sync plus single speed and aperture. Solid aluminium body, responds well to a good metal polish, more for decoration and display than use. The bigger Bencini 120 models make quite nice paperweights! Usually the comet works, they have so few parts to go wrong and they are at least quite robust.
As Doug said, great price for this little gem ! They do not show up very often here and sometimes they are offered in bad condition. Yours is looking very good. I have about 15 different models in all formats and names. I like them too
In the late 1940's the US market was a home producer market, importing cameras from Italy or Europe, unless luxury brands was not done, so Bencini and other less expensive makers never exported much to the States.
They did not appear in the UK much, although chain stores took them for a while, I think Woolworths sold them here.
In those days there were several makers in the UK of the cheaper cameras dominated by Kodak made in the UK models. Imports were restricted from the war till the mid 1950's, and what did get to the shops bore very heavy import duty and purchase tax. It inflated the prices to a point where they could not sell cheaper makes, unless coming from a cheaper producing area like Japan.
The legacy in the UK was high camera prices, maintained by law as they had recommended retail prices, no discounting without reason. It was the late 1970's before this all changed and competition reduced prices. Stephen.
The Bencini Comet S 127 arrived from Ebay, all working fine, shutter works correctly, one speed plus bulb, working flash contact. With original plastic camera case, which can take two filters in pocket inside.
Leather was bubbled a bit on the left front, it was the glue, not aluminium oxide, and has been cleaned and re-glued, it went back perfectly.
Needs a good polish, one tiny area on the top was marked with corrosion, but has polished away with fine emery paper.
The lens is a doublet, and fully coated, and focuses by scale down to three feet. The film plane aperture is flat, and a first check shows an accurate sharp image, although I expect the edge with be softer.
The camera is well build, solid cast aluminium, which Bencini often used. It is really very small, as small as many 35mm cameras in height.
The shutter is a simple two blade over centre type, with B setting and single speed. The lens is coated, and can take screw in filters and lens hoods. The shutter release can take a cable release, and a tripod screw hole is fitted to the camera base.
Overall a surprise, it is better featured than some of the larger 120 Bencini Cameras. I will slit a 120 to 127 film fit to test it out over Xmas.
Last Edit: Dec 20, 2012 20:23:30 GMT -5 by Stephen
I am not really happy with my one I took a test film, but all pictures have been out of focus ( at all distances ). I disassembled the lens, which is a very simple construction on this camera, but I couldn't find anything wrong It seemed to me, that the lens must be screwed more in for reaching the point of infinity but that is impossible by the design of this camera.
And here a picture from the test film, which I already posted at another thread, I think. The background is sharp while focussing close. So ... I actually have to correct, what I said before. The lens would need to become screwed OUT more ?
Despite it's simplicity, the lens is on a multi start helical thread, and perhaps has be unscrewed in the past and re-started on the wrong thread. This should leave the infinity mark at the wrong position, so if it still lines up the elements have been removed at some time and need replacing. Use a ground glass and adjust. There are quite a few variants to the model, even a 4x4 version, and details varied on the castings used.
Test Shot from the Bencini on cut piece of well out dated B/W 120 film, (blocked over the rear red windows), it works OK, a bit of fall off at edge, light not bright enough today, so had to correct in the Gimp.
I'll try a colour film next week, cut down from 120 size. Fortunately the Bencini Comet S still had a 127 roll film spool with it. They usually get removed and sold on Ebay for £5.00 or more! Stephen
Rollei also list some high speed 127 colour, 800 ASA which will need Neutral Density filters and the windows blocked! One UK supplier of obscure films is trying to get Chinese supplies, difficult, as the Chinese never used much 127 ! They apparently want large orders and of course there is going to a limited call for the film.
I used a Rollei Retro 80s. Also available as 127 film and on another camera a Rollei Crossbird, which is a color film. It produces interesting and slightly vintage looking colors ( a little bit brownish ) if developed as transparency film ( what it actually is ).
I was going to try it today, but the weather is awful, so finding some metal polish to bring up the shine! It appears that these were sold in the UK, by "Boots the Chemist", a national chain store Chemist (Drugstore in the US), and photographic shop, who definitely sold later Bencini Cameras under the Boots Brand name, including the 126 model, and a 110 model. The early Bencini cameras were sold under the Bencini name, as Boots in the early 1950's were a major player in the Photographic trade in the UK., and sold quite a range of cameras, especially in the larger London stores. Later supplies from Bencini were branded Boots, as were the East German cameras they stocked in the 60's and 70's.