There’s a switch on the side of the camera to select your aperture:
Sunny (f16), Cloudy (f8) and “R” for “rewind the film”. Make sure you take off the rubber band before you rewind the film and set that switch to “R”. Doing so closes the always-open exposure slit so your film doesn’t get fogged.
Make sure you don’t leave that switch on “R” while you’re taking pictures! This will cause the exposure slit to be closed. You’ll easily notice this by a slient motion though – the camera should make a “zzzzzt” noise when you take a picture 😉 At the bottom of the stick is a standard tripod mount and a small attachment for the lens cap. An inscription reads “Dolphin Spinner 360”, which may have been the initial name for this camera. We can find dolphin references on the spirit level and the front of the camera too. I wonder why they changed that…
Inside the Spinner
At first glance, we find the usual components: the film feeds from the cartridge on the left to a big take-up spool on the right. A piece of cloth covers the film from any stray light caused by the always-open exposure slit in the middle of the camera.
The camera back has a pressure roller in the middle to keep the film flat during exposure and another piece of cloth to protect the film. We also find a piece of black foam to hold the cartridge in place. Fairly simple, yet effective.
Make sure those cloth pieces don’t get caught underneath the take up spool or pressure roller! Otherwise, you’ll risk foggy filmage.
How does it work?
Believe me, that was the first question I’ve asked myself even before I got my hands on it. As usual, it’s MUCH simpler than my brain would comprehend. I was thinking of an accurately controlled panning mechanism, forgetting that essentially we’re dealing with a plastic “rubber band” camera here. Forget accuracy!
Imagine a shutter that’s open at all times, as if constantly in bulb mode. When you wind the film, you expose it. It’s that simple.
The grip is spring loaded on the inside and will turn the camera, which in turn winds the film. When you pull the ring, you pull the spring – like a wind-up car from a Kinder Surprise Egg. When you let go of the string, the camera turns 360 degrees on its own axis while transporting the film. You’re usually in the picture, unless you hold the Spinner above your head.
When I say “the camera turns 360 degrees”, I should use this term rather loosely – because it’s not an exact science. You may take a picture of 180 degrees, you make take one of 400+ degrees. It all depends on how quickly and forcefully you let go of the metal ring.
Heavy Metal Lens Hood and Filters
It looks like the lens hood was an after thought. I didn’t even know I could detach it – but the non-fitting lens-cap kept me up many sleepless nights. Then I found out that you just turn it counter-clockweise and it comes off with ease (remember: righty-tighty, lefty-lucy… thanks to Catherine Willows from CSI for this!)
Apart from keeping those angry stray rays at bay, the lens hood serves another more important purpose: balance. Without it, the Spinner wobbles while you take a picture, and it spins much smoother then it’s attached to the front. Forget the lens cap!
You can attach standard 52mm filters to the Spinner. If you do so, detach the lens hood, attach the filter, and then attach the lens hood again carefully… I don’t think those filter threads are made for a heavy piece like that.
Scanning your pictures
Flatbed scanners are usually capable of scanning anything up to 30cm in length, which means you’ll be OK with an A4 flatbed. Those cheap-o “35mm only” scanners aren’t suitable for this venture… sorry!
Your negatives will fit into your 35mm holders, however these will cut off the exposed perforations. If you’d like to scan those in, you’ll either have to tape your film onto the scanner or to something like a wet scanning attachment (comes with my Epson Perfection V750 for example).