The Real Fine Retro Cameras in The Rum Diary

Given that The Rum Diary is on my mind, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of retro cameras that pop up in the movie. Johnny Depp’s character Paul Kemp slings this camera on his shoulder and uses it to take pictures of Puerto Rican life at the beginning of the movie.

Image:  via

Sala (Michael Rispoli) takes his new roommate Kemp to a cock-fighting match. For a while Kemp takes some pictures of the fighting which itself reminded me of the dog fighting scenes in Amores Perros. Slowly, Kemp slips out of the screaming yelling crowd and seeks out real shots of Puerto Rican life. It’s grimy, dirty, poverty-ridden but real. In contrast, when Kemp is in postcard perfect paradise, Sanderson’s (Aaron Eckhart) private beach or his party, Kemp seems only half interested. The moments when Kemp is alone with his camera he seems alive. It’s this solitary excursion that later helps him to make up his mind about the stand that he will take. The camera is I think either a Pentax or a Contax  1958 Nikon S3 rangefinder or a Kiev 4A. (Cameraphiles: if you can identify the camera without any doubt, please leave a note and I will update the post. UPDATE:  See the comments section. Thanks Akshay Bhoan and Horst Tappert [If this is your real name.])

Image: via

The second camera that briefly flashes before our eyes is the one that Sala uses to take a prank picture of Moberg (Giovani Ribisi) tearing out the editor Edward J. Lotterman’s wig. It’s big and unwiedly but definitely catches our eye. (Cameraphiles:  if you can identify this camera, please leave a comment. And I will update the post. UPDATE:  See the comments section. This camera has been identified as a Speedgraphic by Akshay Bhoan.)

Image:  via

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Note: All images are sourced from the Internet and credited accordingly. If I have missed out anyone, please let me know, and I will add the image credits. No plagiarism is intended.

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8 thoughts on “The Real Fine Retro Cameras in The Rum Diary

  1. Ok please don’t call us cameraphiles, it sounds weird.

    The first camera is 1958 Nikon S3 rangefinder camera, the second one is a Speedgraphic 🙂

    1. Thanks Akshay for your astute observation! This is really helpful. 🙂

      Well, a “cameraphile” is someone who loves a camera. When there are terms like “bibliophile” (loves books) and “cinephile” (loves movies), what’s weird about “cameraphile”?

  2. Others pointed out elsewhere that it is a Kiev 4. As far as I can see – a Kiev 4a.

    Seems like an interesting movie… I haven’t seen it, yet.

    1. Hello jnm,

      First of all, welcome! You have put me in a quandary! Oh, I can see the resemblance to a Kiev 4A. Thank you! Updating the post again.

  3. The first camera is without the slightest doubt a Kiev 4a with a Jupiter 8 lens. Have a look at the self timer lever and the litle synch-port under the finder which togehter are different from earlier and later Kievs and the Contaxes. The Nikons had a different top-layout with separate shutter release (here: coaxial to shutter-dial), advance lever in S2 and later (no lever here: knob advance) and a rewind crank (knob rewind on this one). Here is a better picture photoethnography: http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/Kiev4a.html

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