Abandoned In The Desert

DSCF8471The users of Kodak cameras have no fear of the Mohave, the Gobi, or the Simpson. They have been abandoned in other deserts for the last century – and it has happened repeatedly.

I’m talking about the practice that Rochester instituted of inventing a recording medium – a film size, for instance – promoting it, designing cameras for it, supplying it is black and white and colour….and then abandoning it when the next design team invents a smaller or cheaper format.

116, 616, 127, 828, 620, 126, 110, disc….

Well, this little beauty was a 1960’s 126 or Kodapak camera from the series that they entitled Instamatic. The only thing instant about it was the loading of the film – everything else was conventionally timed. You shot, dropped the Kodapak into the chemist, and picked your prints up a week later.

The fact that the Land Corporation made Polaroid cameras that would spit out a finished single print in your hand in anywhere from 15 to 120 seconds, which was pretty instant, during the same years made for confusion and arguments at the camera sales counter. People assumed that one was the other and demanded to know when the pictures were going to come out of the Kodak product. ” A week, Madam…” never seemed to be a satisfying answer.

DSCF8472This example of the Instamatic was made in Germany to satisfy the top end of the convenience market. It was manual focus with detents at landscape, group, and portrait distances, fitted for a decent range of shutter speeds, and the aperture ring was linked to a match needle system running off a selenium meter. It made sharp negatives and slides, 12, 20, or 24 in a cartridge. The format was square 28mm x 28mm. Perfect for simple snap shooters.

No more films left from Kodak…and everyone else seems to have shut up shop as well. But the cameras that shot the 126 size were so simple and bomb-proof that they will likely outlive us all. It is a pity that they cannot be used – they would make a perfect fallback camera when digital imaging becomes difficult.


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