The High Point Of The Kodak Cameras

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I will probably stir up a wasp’s nest with a statement like that but bear with me. I think I can justify it.

Kodak made a lot of cameras. I have five in my possession that have significance to my family – one that belonged to my Grandfather, one that my parents owned, two that we shared, and one my exclusive possession. They are still functioning…or would if EKC still made and processed films…and they were each reasonably well-made for the manufacturing processes of the time. But only one is a classic of design and thought – the Magazine 8.

I detailed in earlier posts the business of double-run 8mm amateur films – how they were really 16mm stock run through twice and then split by the processor. The business of changing reels and turning things over seems to have been an inordinate worry to people, so Kodak devised a n alternative – and then they pushed to boat out and did it big time.

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The Kodak magazine still took 16mm film, but it encased it in a sturdy metal housing with both take-up and supply reel in place. the film was factory loaded on this and supplied in a familiar yellow EKC box. You opened the camera, popped it in, wound up the spring,and carried on for the first 25 feet. Then you opened the door, turned the magazine over, and went at it again. The magazine had a rotary flap that sealed off the film aperture.

When the magazine was completed you posted it back to Kodak who developed it, reloaded it, and sent back the fresh stock in the mag together with your 50 foot reel ready to project.

DSCF8468Okay, that was the plan, and the cameras were made with the very best streamline styling and stainless steel casting. Four shooting speeds so that you could get slow motion, a variable focus and aperture, interchangeable lenses, a card system of exposure hints to slot into the side, and a viewfinder that could be dialed to the various focal lengths of the lenses.

And the wonderful thing was the shape of the housing; the position of the shutter release, and the external handle made for extremely steady holding – you could get away with no tripod most times.

It was a rich man’s camera, and the only chance my parents had to get one was when a rich men became poor. They picked it up from a hock shop in Las Vegas just after I was born, and took reel after reel of me as a kid. In the bath, in the back yard, playing with toy tractors. The Kodachrome film of the time is still good-looking and projectable.

I’ve got the camera and have saved three magazines from destruction. If I could get 16mm film processed I could shoot pictures of me in the bathtub. I wonder if the market is ready for that.

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