Durst Duca

The palm-sized Duca has an un­usual upright de­sign that looks more like a cine cam­era

Amateur Photographer - - Tech Talk -

The Ital­ian com­pany Durst was prob­a­bly best known for its en­larg­ers and other dark­room equip­ment, though the com­pany did make a hand­ful of cam­eras. The palm-sized Duca was launched in 1947, and was in production for around five years. It uses stan­dard 35mm film, but this is loaded into the Agfa ‘Rapid’ spool-free car­tridges, which have the ad­van­tage of be­ing smaller than a stan­dard cas­sette, but this is at the ex­pense of only be­ing able to han­dle short lengths of film, in this case 12 ex­po­sures.

The upright de­sign of the Duca makes it look more like an 8mm cine cam­era than a stills cam­era, and when it’s in its tight- fit­ting leather case, I think most peo­ple would as­sume that’s what it was. I bought mine on eBay a few years ago, and can’t re­mem­ber what I paid for it, but it wouldn’t have been a huge sum. At the time I was ac­tively seek­ing out quirky and un­usual cam­eras for my col­lec­tion, but now I’m con­cen­trat­ing on us­ing them all. I’m cur­rently half­way through the ninth year of my ‘52 cam­eras in 52 weeks’ project, and I’m con­fi­dent that I can stretch to a full decade – that’s 520 cam­eras – with­out hav­ing to buy any more. That won’t nec­es­sar­ily stop me giv­ing in to temp­ta­tion if an in­ter­est­ing model turns up in a char­ity shop!

A look at the Duca

Most of the cam­era body is ac­tu­ally nar­rower than the rapid car­tridges, with bulges on each of the side pan­els to ac­com­mo­date them. As with cine cam­eras of this era, the side of the cam­era is re­moved to load and un­load the film. The out­side is fin­ished with a crin­kle-tex­tured black paint, some­thing you might recog­nise from the Durst en­larg­ers if you’ve ever used one.

A lever on the side of the cam­era ad­vances the film and cocks the shut­ter, and also in­cor­po­rates a frame counter. The shut­ter re­lease is on the front, be­low the lens, and er­gonom­i­cally this lay­out would al­low for tak­ing pho­tos in quick suc­ces­sion, some­thing un­likely to be taken ad­van­tage of given the limited num­ber of ex­po­sures in the car­tridge.

The spec­i­fi­ca­tions are pretty ba­sic: there is a 50mm Du­car menis­cus lens with a sin­gle aper­ture f/11 lens and two fo­cus po­si­tions, while the sim­ple guil­lo­tine shut­ter of­fers the choice of 1/30th sec and ‘B’, putting the Duca firmly in the fair-weather pho­tog­ra­phy bracket.

Right from the start of my ‘52 cam­eras in 52 weeks’ project I have made a point of tak­ing a mir­ror self-por­trait, to show the cam­era in use. I rarely in­flict th­ese on AP read­ers, but am do­ing so on this oc­ca­sion in or­der to show just how small this cam­era re­ally is. With sim­ple day­light cam­eras, un­able to shoot in­doors, I some­times have to im­pro­vise to find a re­flec­tive sur­face. Luck­ily I know of a mir­rored win­dow in a local col­lege that fits the bill, and only use it at week­ends for fear of arous­ing sus­pi­cion.

‘It looks more like an 8mm cine cam­era than a stills cam­era’

Tony Kem­plen’s love of pho­tog­ra­phy be­gan as a teenager and ever since he has been col­lect­ing cam­eras with a view to test­ing as many as he can. You can fol­low his progress on his 52 Cam­eras blog at 52cam­eras.blogspot.co.uk. More pho­tos from the Durst Duca: www.flickr.com/ tony_kem­plen/sets/72157627987262159/

The tiny Duca is a stills cam­era and has an upright de­sign

In this self-por­trait, we can see how small the Duca cam­era re­ally is

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