Category Archives: Kodak

Kodak Instamatic 300 & Camerhack 135 to 126 Adapter

The Kodak Instamatic is a camera that I recall from my childhood. My parents and grandparents had them before moving to Kodak 110 cameras in the 1970’s. Kodak’s 126 film was introduced in 1963 and was marketed as an easy-load film cartridge. The film itself is 35mm film, paper backed, with a single sprocket hole per frame to allow each 28 x 28mm shot to advance through the camera. It wasn’t until 1987 that Kodak discontinued the format.

Camerhack in Italy has designed and 3-D prints a 135 (35mm) to 126 film adapter kit. The cartridge allows you to load standard 35mm film into a reusable cartridge so it can be used in a classic Kodak Instamatic, or any other camera that used 126 film. Claudio from Camerhack includes a detailed instruction booklet that guides you through the process. And even better, he’s also created a YouTube video that walks you step-by-step through loading, shooting and re-spooling.

 

Here are my tips for using the Camerhack 135 to 126 FAK:

  • Plan to sacrifice a roll of 35mm film. This will help you practice loading the cartridge in the light. When you’re ready to load your favorite film in the adapter, you’ll be ready to do it in the dark.
  • With your sacrificed roll of film, practice advancing the film in the camera. Instamatic cameras have a needle inside that is tripped by a sprocket hole when the film is advanced. You’ll find that each camera does this a little different. For example, my Kodak Instamatic 300 and Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic advanced very differently. Which leads me to the most important tip.
  • Listen for the click. With my Kodak Instamatic 300, I had to press the shutter, take the shot, press the shutter button down (doesn’t actually open the shutter), advance the film until the shutter advance would CLICK. The key for me was holding the camera up to my ear and listening for that click to know that the film had advanced. The click is the key to success!
  • Following Claudio’s instructions, if you decided to roll the film (in the dark) back into a 35mm cartridge to have it processed at a lab, know that the sprocket holes will get a little chewed up by the camera. This is caused by the needle inside that I mentioned earlier. When you roll the film back into the cartridge, wind it slowly.
  • Only use a 24-exposure roll of 35mm film. Keep in mind that the original number of exposures on 126 film cartridges was 12 to 20. Using a 24-exposure roll should give you 16 to 20 images depending on the spacing between each shot. Using a smaller roll will also prevent the film from scratching when you load the film adapter.

Camera: Kodak Instamatic 300 (1963 – 1966)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

Kodak Instamatic 300 (1963 - 1966)

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Minolta Hi-Matic F

The Hi-Matic series was Minolta’s most popular line of consumer rangefinder cameras. The F was produced in 1972 as an economy model. Not only economic in price, but in size and weight. The Hi-Matic F weighs 350g and measures only 113 x 73 x 54mm.  With a small footprint, the camera does have a nice 38mm, f/2.7 Rokkor coated lens. The CdS meter on the camera automates the aperture and exposure for shutter speeds from 4 to 1/724 sec. On the lens itself, a flash guide number is printed so the photographer can select distance to the subject for flash photography.

While the camera is small enough to carry wherever you go, the absence of any manual controls make it feel like a point-and-shoot. The Hi-Matic F is a great all-purpose camera. It would make a nice addition to a street photographers kit because of its discreet size and shutter sound. My test shots were made with Kodak Tri-X 400, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo.


Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash

One of the most recognizable cameras in history is the Kodak Brownie. They made several models of the Brownie, but the Hawkeye Flash stands out because of its simple square bakelite body. The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash was designed by Arthur H. Crapsey, and manufactured from May 1949 to July 1961. The cost, $5.00 USD for the camera, $7.00 USD with the flash.

This camera is easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble. Even for a guy like me that barely knows which end of a screwdriver to use. Two screws on the top and two on the front of the camera can be removed to clean the viewfinder and front glass element. Two screws inside remove the entire film chamber giving you access to the shutter mechanism.

Over the course of the production, Kodak made some minor changes to the Brownie Hawkeye Flash. My version has a glass lens, but later models had plastic. The camera has an aperture of f/14.5 – f/16. Shutter speed is about 1/30 sec, along with a bulb mode. Focal length is approximately 75mm and the focal distance is about 5 feet to infinity.

The Brownie Hawkeye Flash uses 620 film. The only difference between 620 and 120 film are the size of the film spools. There are many methods for using 120 film in 620 film cameras depending on the make and model. Instead of re-spooling 120 film, or grinding down plastic 120 spools, I chose to modify the camera. I took a Drummel tool and ground out just enough of the bakelite so a loaded 120 spool would fit. Unfortunately, there’s not enough room in the camera to modify it to use a 120 take-up spool.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to admit I’m happy with the results. The images below were shot on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 BW Film, processed by RepliColor in Salt Lake City, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo. It’s not very often that I share an entire roll of images, but I’m going to this time so you can see the accidental double-exposures. The Brownie Hawkeye Flash has a spring loaded shutter, so it’s always cocked and ready to go. My mistakes took place when forgetting to advance the film. Overall, the images are sharp. There’s some slight curving in the images, something I would expect, so it doesn’t surprise me.

You can find various Brownie Hawkeye Flash cameras on eBay. Some are in better condition than others. Some come with the flash attachment and others are a complete boxed kit. I wouldn’t pay more than $15 for this camera. It’s not a rare gem, but certainly fun to use. This camera and its limitations push you to slow down, compose the image, and think. Another benefit of the Brownie Hawkeye Flash is the number of resources available online. Check out the Brownie Camera Page, or Kurt Munger’s site for a detailed breakdown and cleaning guide.

 

 


Kodak No. 1 Panoram

This week we’re featuring a guest post from Maurice Greeson. I’ve come to know Maurice from visiting the Ogden Union Station Restoration Shop in Ogden, Utah. Each week, members of The Golden Spike Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society volunteer time restoring, Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad steam locomotive #223 to an operational engine. Maurice is a talented photographer with a vast collection of vintage cameras. You can see more of his work on Flickr. Maurice has a Kodak No. 1 Panoram camera that was manufactured by Kodak from 1900 – 1926 and cost $10. This Model-D was made around 1915. A 6-exposure 2 1/4 x 7 film cartridge was $.40 or you could use a 3-exposure cartridge that was $.20.

Kodak No. 1 Panoram

Kodak No. 1 Panoram

The steam locomotive is No. 223, an 1881 Grant loco currently under restoration at Ogden’s Union Station. Photo by Maurice Greeson.

The steam locomotive is No. 223, an 1881 Grant loco currently under restoration at Ogden’s Union Station. Photo by Maurice Greeson.

This was shot on April 24th, 2015 at The Union Station, Ogden, Utah, with a one hundred year old Kodak No. 1 Panoram camera.   I’ve had this camera sitting on the shelf for a few years and finally decided to try it out. I’m not sure where or when I acquired it. (Old cameras seem to float in and out of my life) Originally using Kodak No. 105 roll film it seemed a perfect candidate to modify for 120. Too easy! All that was necessary was to file down a slightly protruding metal piece in the bottom of the supply chamber. It also helped to sand down the plastic Fuji 120 spool on one end. (The older metal 120 spools could be a problem) The next thing was to figure out the number spacing. Since the negatives from the Kodak are 7” long it wasn’t too hard to figure out that 2,5,10, & 14 would work. I just laid out a discarded paper backing from a 120 roll film and saw that the numbers for shooting 16 shots with a 1 5/8” x 2 ¼” camera would be under the red window. Although touted by Kodak as being able to shoot hand held, I used a tripod.   Keeping the camera level is a good thing although shooting up or at an angle might give some interesting effects. I still haven’t figured out the shutter speeds or f/stop, but the simple meniscus lens does a pretty nice job on a sunny day. This is a fun camera to use, even if it is a bit fiddly. You have to cock the lens by moving a lever on the top of the camera to the left or to the right. Pressing the release button lets the lens swing to give you the 112 degree picture. The only down side is that it costs about $1.25 per exposure. Shot with Fuji Acros negative film size 120 and developed in a home brewed MQ developer. Yup… D76!   If you haven’t tried making up your own developer from scratch just give it a try. There are only four chemicals in D76! The steam locomotive is No. 223, an 1881 Grant loco currently under restoration at Ogden’s Union Station.

 

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The Spartus Full-Vue Camera


This camera was acquired through my friend Lynn Taylor earlier this year. I like the looks of this camera with the art deco faceplate and bakelite construction. I even like the that it’s missing a screw on the face. It shows some character, right?

In 1941, the Spartus Corporation bought The Utility Manufacturing Company in New York and moved all operations to Chicago, IL. Then in 1951, the head of sales at Spartus bought the company and named it Harold Manufacturing Company. The new company made cameras under it’s own name as well as several brands for other companies. The cameras sold under the Spartus name were the center of Harold’s sales. The Full-Vue was made from 1948 to 1960 by Spartus and was one of the first box cameras to accept 120 or 620 roll film. The original selling price was $9.95. You can find them on eBay for $10 – $90 depending on condition. The Full-Vue is made of bakelite, but textured to have a leather appearance. The Spartus is a twin lens reflex box camera with a fixed-focus lens. It has a top down viewfinder, and creates 6×6 images. I ordered some Kodak T-Max 100 black and white 120 film from The Film Photography Project Store, and then sent it off to The Darkroom to develop and scan the images. The results were a unique blend of grain and focus I would call typical of a fixed-focus box camera. These are three of the better shots from a total of twelve on the roll. This was my first experience using roll film. Being 100 speed film, it required a lot of light for satisfactory images. When I use this camera in the future, it really needs to be loaded with Kodak T-Max 400 black and white. I like the grain, but probably need film 400 or faster. I also attempted to use some 35mm in the Spartus Full-Vue, but found that this camera seals so tightly, the film refused to twist on to the take up reel when the back was closed. I’ll be sharing my experience with shooting sprocket holes on 35mm film and a box camera in a future post.


My son, Connor, exploring Willard Basin, Utah
Spartus Full-Vue – Kodak T-Max 100 BW

Willard Basin, Utah
Spartus Full-Vue – Kodak T-Max 100 BW

Willard Basin, Utah
Spartus Full-Vue – Kodak T-Max 100 BW