I don’t have many Kodaks in my collection but over the last two days I have been given three very old Kodak cameras. I’ve enjoyed doing a little research on these cameras, and here are my notes.
Vest Pocket Autographic (1915-1926)
The Vest Pocket cameras were tiny by standards of the day, hardly any larger than a modern digital compact and as the name suggests, able to fit in a shirt pocket. This one is the autographic model, so there is a flap that opens at the back where the photographer can use a metal stylus to write the caption on the negative directly. This requires special autographic film though, which hasn’t been available since 1932. The body is entirely metal and when folded shut, it is tough.
The Vest Pocket camera launched at around the start of the First World War and due to the portability and durability it became known as the soldier’s camera.
My copy is in a sad state. One of the metal struts has snapped meaning it’s not stable when unfolded, and the bellows are completely torn through in several places. There is lots of paint loss on the body which tells me the camera has been well-used. Nonetheless, the lens and shutter are perfectly working. The photographer can choose two shutter speeds and four aperture settings for quite comprehensive exposure control. Focus is fixed.
It takes hard-to-find 127 film but it may be possible to rig it to use a different type of film.
No. 2A Folding Cartridge Hawk-Eye Model B (1926-1934)
In 1907, Eastman Kodak purchased the Boston Camera Company, who produced Hawk-Eye cameras. After the First World War, the Hawk-Eye line was retained as a premium range. This particular camera has an immaculate lens and shutter although the bellows have some pinholes at the corners which will need to be repaired before the camera can be used. The camera takes 116 film which is hard to find these days, but it should be possible to use readily-available 120 film.
This camera has the same shutter and aperture options as the Vest Pocket but adds four preset bellows positions which correspond to different focal points.
Six-20 Brownie Junior Super Model (1935-1940)
Like most of the entry-level Brownie range, this one is unremarkable. It’s fully working though, and I may well put a roll of film through it for the soft effect from the meniscus lens. Despite being 20 years more advanced than the Vest Pocket, it is a completely dumb camera with no exposure or focus control.