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The Kodak Jiffy V. P.

Posted 2012.07.24 12.26 in Hobbies, Photography

The Kodak Jiffy V. P. is a camera I acquired some time ago – last summer I think. It is the second oldest camera in my collection, dating from the mid 1930’s.

The V. P. stands for Vest Pocket, as the camera folds up and fits neatly in a pocket. It was a cheaper model even back in the day – bakelite construction, folding metal frame-style finder, and simple doublet lens. Groovy art deco stylings though.

The Jiffy V. P. uses format 127 rollfilm. This is a halfway size, bigger than 35mm but smaller than 120 rollfilm. The Jiffy shoots eight 4×6.5cm frames on a roll. You can still get 127 film from a couple sources. I used a roll of Efke R100 (ISO 100) black and white for the following shots.

The subject matter is an old abandoned driving range north of town. I noticed it a few weeks back while en route to visit my folks, so on the way back home I stopped and explored around and took some pictures. It was a blazingly hot and sunny day, which was good for the ISO100 film and the old camera.

Processed at home with some very old T-Max 1:4, 8 1/2 minutes at 76°F, and scanned with my Epson flatbed.

Found Film #7

Posted 2011.10.22 16.18 in Hobbies, Photography

Recently I picked up another new camera toy. Well new is a relative term – this time it was a 1935 Kodak Bantam. With the Anastigmat f/6.3 lens and the rigid viewfinder, this was the premium model. Whoever was the original purchaser, they went with the higher-end model, instead of the base unit with its slower f/12 lens and the collapsing finder.

The Kodak Bantam is an incredibly cute camera – you just don’t get a feel for its cuteness from the pictures. When it’s folded up, it’s tiny! Even when open, it’s miniscule.

And best of all, my Bantam came with a Special Surprise inside!

Yeah! A roll of exposed film!

Except – oh no! When I was removing the film from the camera, I committed a terrible mistake… the roll slipped out of my grip and tried to escape, while the backing paper was hung-up on something in the camera, and the whole roll started to unspool! I caught it but the last few inches of film were light-struck. Dangit!

Luckily, it turns out only the last one and a half frames were blasted. Here’s a look at the rest of them:

Technical stuff: The Bantam uses 828 roll film, which is the same width as 35mm but has no perforations. Without perfs, the negatives are 30% larger than a standard 35mm image, at 40mm x 28mm. As nifty as it sounds, Kodak stopped selling 828 cameras in the 50’s, and discontinued the film in the 80’s.

The roll in my Bantam was Kodak Verichrome Pan, with which I have dealt before. I used almost the same process as last time, but extended the development time to compensate for the colder temperature. Pre-soak for 10 minutes, developed for 11:30 in T-Max 1:4 and then fixed for 10:30.

Instamatic 500 by Kodak AG

Posted 2011.10.11 8.28 in Hobbies, Photography

After the Autopak 700, I thought I was finished collecting 126-format cameras. I thought I had found the best and therefore didn’t need any more. I thought wrong.

The Instamatic 500 was produced by Kodak AG (Germany) and was their top-of-the-line instamatic camera. Made in 1963, it features a solid metal body, quality German optics, and fully manual operation. It is smaller than the Minolta, having no built-in rangefinder. The Instamatic 500 uses guess-focusing, with a distance scale on the top of the lens and zone icons on the bottom. Interestingly, the lens has detents for the zones, so it ‘snaps’ into place for Portrait (4ft), Group (~8ft), and Landscape (~20ft).

The lens also has a Depth-of-Field scale printed on it, so it’s actually very handy on a bright sunny day – set your aperture to f/11 or f/16, set your shutter speed according to your film ISO, and set the focus on ‘Group’ and you’ll have good sharp focus from 4 feet to infinity. Great for street photography or casual snapshots.

The Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar lens has a 38mm focal length and the aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/22. It is mounted on a Compur shutter with speeds from 1/30 through 1/500, plus Bulb. The shutter has X-sync through its entire range, with flash available through both a hot-shoe and PC socket. Finally, the lens is retractable, when not in use. A small button on the base of the camera allows the lens to be pressed back into the body. The lens is spring-loaded and pressing that button again lets it slide back out into place. While the lens is stowed, the shutter-release is locked, preventing accidental snaps.

To top it all off, the camera is equipped with a Gossen selenium meter. This works without requiring any batteries at all, and after almost 50 years, it is still working correctly! The meter is visible through the viewfinder, indicating if the exposure is off or if it is correct, with +/- 1 EV indication.

The only flaw on my camera is that the faceplate has been lost. Normally there would be the indication ‘Kodak Instamatic 500’ on the face of the camera, above and left of the lens.

It is, in my opinion, a nearly perfect camera. It works without batteries. It’s fairly compact. It’s solid. It takes square photos! It has an exposure aid, though it’s still a manual camera. There’s still that pesky problem of the film being nearly impossible to find, but that can be worked around. The lack of focus-aid, such as a rangefinder, is a problem when you can’t estimate distances very well. But the inclusion of a DOF scale helps make up for that.

The Instamatic 500 is a definite keeper, and certainly has a place in my collection. The Minolta Autopak 700 has the rangefinder, and the Rollei A26 is smaller. The Instamatic 500 fits right in between – the size is right, the feel is right, fully manual and doesn’t need batteries. It’s a winner.

The following pictures were taken on an OEM Fuji colour negative film. 35mm respooled into a 126 cartridge. This has two quirks: the sprocket holes are visible along one edge of the images, and sometimes there are feeding problems, which can lead to occasional overlapping images.

Also a quick point on using 35mm in the 126 cartridges: I do have a precious cache of genuine 126 film, so why am I using 35mm instead? When I get a new camera, I don’t know how well it’s going to perform, and I would hate to waste a real cartridge only to find out the shutter wasn’t opening or something stupid like that. So before using a real 126 film on a new aquisition, I’ll test with a reloaded one. Also, the colour 126 cartridges are all very expired, so there is a trade-off. Good colours / predictable results with sprocket holes, or completely unpredictable results but no sprocket holes?

This was the last roll to be souped in my exhausted C-41 chemistry. Processing at room temperature has gone from 18 minutes up to 25 minutes, my blix is exhausted, and I suspect the stabilizer is going too. So I’ll let some colour films pile up a bit before I make up a new batch of chemicals to resume processing. Maybe I’ll do some B&W in the meantime.

Rainbow No 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

Posted 2011.09.06 20.07 in Hobbies, Photography

It’s quite a mouthful – that’s the name of my newest oldest camera! The Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C was a “box” camera made in or around 1930. It was actually a re-issue of a camera design that was introduced in 1913, but Kodak re-released them to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.

In fact, to celebrate its 50th birthday, Kodak gave away a half-million cameras like this one, to 12-year-old children. Mine is not one of the 50th anniversary specials – just a standard rainbow No 2 Model C. Mind you, it’s better than your average box camera – mine is Red!

My Red Camera!

Kodak No.2 Hawk-Eye Model C

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see how it worked. I loaded it up and shot through a roll of film in a few minutes, outside around the house.

One of the things I needed to figure out, was exposures. Box cameras tend not to have any settings. Well ok some do, but this one sure doesn’t. One shutter speed. No aperture settings. Certainly no focusing. Without knowing the technical info, it’s very hard to know what to expect from the camera. And I know they weren’t running ISO 800 colour film through these things, back in the 1930’s.

I’ve read that the shutter speed is probably about 1/30th. I measured the focal length (about 105mm) and estimated the aperture at f/6.3. So using ISO 100 film, I calculated that would work at EV+10 — say, indoors under bright light, or outdoors under heavy overcast.

In actuality it looks like the aperture is probably more like f/8 or even f/11 which means it’s better off at EV+11 or EV+12 – I’d guesstimate that the Church image was a 12 and that came out properly exposed. So now I know what sort of conditions to look for next time!

Incidentally, if you’re wondering where one might find a camera like this… I actually scored this beautiful example from an Etsy store. If you’re looking for an antique or classic camera, follow the link and have a look – I found Rebecca a real pleasure to deal with.

p.s. Technical details – film was Shanghai GP-3, ISO 100 B&W processed 7 1/2 minutes in Kodak T-Max developer, 1:4 mix.