Barclaycard Visa camera
  • Produced: late 1980s, Taiwan
  • Film type: 35mm
  • Image size: 36x24mm
  • Lens: Optical Color Auto Fix Focus 50mm Lens 1:6
  • Shutter speeds: 1/125

My first camera was one of these. I’d used my parents’ Instamatic before, but the Barclaycard was the first camera that was actually mine. It was more like the cameras I read about in books than the Instamatic because it had settings: you had to turn the lens so the marker pointed at the appropriate weather or the picture wouldn’t come out. I didn’t know about latitude. I was ten.

I paid over the odds for this one so I could relive my childhood.

It has a Barclaycard logo on the front which you can’t see here because of the tape holding the camera together. It’s very, very brittle, and pretty much everytime I touch it something else breaks off. It arrived from eBay with a chunk snapped out of the top, and I broke a load more of it trying to stick the first piece back. In the end I gave up and just taped it up.

It has a curved film path to allow it to make a “focussed” image with only a single element lens. It also has a chunk of scrap metal glued into the base to make it feel heavy. During my repairs I discovered that the plastic smells of saffron if you sand it.

There must be hundreds of variations of this camera out there. Google “Auto Fix Focus 50mm Lens” and you’ll see what I mean. Different brandings, different mouldings, but basically the same camera. I bet people go mad trying to collect them all.

I love the photos that this camera makes, but there’s something wrong with the winder. It works for a couple of frames, but the more pictures you take the less film it pulls through at a time. Eventually it jams like you’ve reached the end of the film, but it’s just the frame counter hitting its stop. The last film I put through it got to frame 13 of 36: eight or so mostly separate images, a few overlapping ones, and three or four frames with about twenty exposures crammed onto them like some crazy Rorschach shit. It’s kind of cool, but I think my lab will blacklist me if I send them any more films like that.