Kodak Bantam Special (Art Deco)
beautiful Art Deco styling by Walter
Dorwin Teague, the Kodak Bantam
Special is one of the most
collectible US made cameras. The
clam shell styling and push button
opening enabled it to be fit in
pockets and be a practical carry
everywhere camera. It measures
only 3 3/16" x 4 13/16" x 1 13/16"
deep and weighs just over a pound.
It has a black enamel finish over a
machined aluminum die cast body.
The prewar versions, such as this
one, use the German made Compur
shutter and an uncoated 45/2 Ektar
lens with speeds of 1 to 1/500 plus
T & B. So while elegant it is also
an excellent camera.
Kodak Duo Six-20 Series II Circa
The Duo Six-20 is a 4.5”×6”
horizontal folding camera made by
Kodak Germany (Nagel) from 1934 to
1940, with the “II” designation
beginning in 1937. It uses 620
film. A Kodak Duo Six-20 was
included in the inventory of Amelia
Earhart's lost airplane.
Kodak 35 - 35mm Circa 1938
This was the first US made Kodak
35mm camera, although it did not
offer interchangeable lenses.
The Kodak 35 was launched in 1938 .
It was developed in Rochester, New
York when it became apparent that
the company could no longer rely on
import of the Retina cameras from
their Kodak AG factory in Germany
during the troubled times prior to
The Kodak 35 was introduced to
compete with the Argus A, and
like Argus, Kodak used bakelite
plastic in the body of this camera.
Unfortunately, in 1938 Argus upped
the game by introducing the Argus
C-series with a rangefinder, though
not coupled to the lens. Giving the
non-rangefinder Kodak 35 stiff
competition. To compete with
the Argus C-series, the Kodak 35
rangefinder model was introduced in
1940 (see below), but this model
continued in production until 1949.
the world is bakelite?
Kodak Bantam f4.5 - Circa 1938
Kodak Bantam f8 Circa 1938
Bantam is a folding camera using
Kodak's 828 film format (35mm film
with only 1 perforation per image).
It was a very compact camera,
designed by the famous Walter Dorwin
Teague. The basic model had a 1:12.5
Doublet lens and a single speed
shutter. It appeared in 1935,
together with another model that had
a 1:6.3 lens and a rigid finder.
Most Bantams were strut folders, but
the F.8 model of 1938 had a
rectangular pull-out lens tube
Kodak Retina IIa Type 150 Circa 1939
Kodak 35 RF Circa 1940
In 1940 an improved Kodak 35 camera
was offered with a new
superstructure housing a viewfinder
and a separate coupled
rangefinder, but without any
addition to the identifying
inscription on the body.
Competition from the Argus C series
(see C3 below) forced a
hastily-designed rangefinder, which
is gear-coupled to the front lens
element through a cumbersome
external linkage. This resulted in a
camera design that has been
described as "one that only a
mother could love".
It is generally referred to as the
RF model. The centrally positioned
eyepiece is for the viewfinder. An
external mechanism, hidden inside
the protrusion at the left-hand side
of the lens/shutter assembly, relays
the front lens element extension to
the rangefinder optics by sensing
the height of a milled cam at the
periphery of the lens barrel just
behind the toothed rim. Both the
separate viewfinder and rangefinder
eyepieces and the lens coupling are
in the style of the Leica camera.
The difference is the way in which
the lever operates on the lens
barrel. Looking through the small
rangefinder window at the left-hand
side at the back reveals a clear
view of a horizontally split image.
The lower image part is shifted
sideways by turning the focusing
wheel at the front right-hand side
of the lens. By aligning the
vertical feature of any object in
the motive that crosses the split in
the rangefinder image may render it
sharp on the film.
Civilian production was halted
during the war, with all cameras
going to the military in various
finishes; these are now extremely
rare and valuable to collectors.
Vigilant Junior Six-20
The Vigilant Junior Six-20 was
similar to the Vigilant Six-20 with
a simpler lens and shutter, targeted
at the youth market, using 620 size
film. As with many Kodak
lines, it was also available in the
larger Six-16 format for 616 film.
The Junior models had Kodet meniscus
lenses and Dak shutters. This
model was produced from 1940 to
1948, and seems to be a
lighter-weight forerunner of the
Tourist model of the late 1940s to
the late 1950s. It is simpler
and more robust than the earlier
folding cameras, with self erecting
struts and a flip-out eye-level
viewfinder on the side.
Kodak Medalist Circa 1941
Kodak Medalist was an unusual design
for a medium format camera when it
was introduced in 1941. A heavy
and awkward rangefinder camera,
known as “the professional’s heavy
tank". A Kodak Super-Matic shutter
to 1/400th. F3.5 100m lens.
Unusually for pre-war cameras, the
lens was coated.
Medalist was offered with a fair
number of accessories. The most
unusual feature–the back
design–allowed use of roll film,
sheet film packs and cut sheet
holders. The back can be opened from
either side or removed completely.
An auxiliary ground glass back can
be fitted to allow critical focusing
and, when this is in place, 6×9 film
packs or 6×9 sheet film holders can
be used. 620mm film 8 exposures.
Shot with Nikon D200
using a Nikkor DX 135mm zoom at f14
for 1/4 second, diffused/reflected
Kodak Brownie Target Six-16 Circa 1941
This camera was introduced in 1941 and
manufactured through 1945. It is the
direct evolution of the original brownie box
The camera uses 616 film and produces images in
2 1/2 X 4 1/4". It features a twin finder
design, one for portrait and the other for
landscape. The lens is based on a simple
meniscus design. There is an aperture tab on the
top front. The shutter is based on a rotary
design. The shutter release is fired when
pressed downward. It is spring activated and
will automatically return to the up position. A
tab above the shutter release can select between
the default instant mode, or when pulled outward
bulb mode (while the shutter lever is held
down). The film advance is by a knob on the
right hand side of the body. Advancing the film
requires turning this knob counter clockwise.
The back has a red window used for frame
counting. The the top of the camera has a handle
with the model name imprinted.
Though there were different finishes, this
represents the last series of US manufactured
brownie box cameras based on the 1900 design.
However, production and development of this
concept continued in Britain and also in
Australia where the last model was discontinued
in 1962. In the US the closest
descendant would be the Brownie Hawkeye Flash
introduced in 1949 (see below).
Box Brownie Site
Kodak 35 RF - Black Arm & Knobs Circa 1945
This is a rare version of the 35 RF with black
finish on the RF arm and upper knobs. This
may be a hybrid of post war production using
leftover parts from the military "blackout"
versions. A extremely rare 1942
version has the black arm and light colored
plastic knobs, with otherwise civilian livery.
Kodak 35 RF Details
Brownie Reflex Syncro Model 173
This camera doesn't have much
to do with the brownie-box tradition
nor is it really a reflex camera, it
was just inexpensive and has a large
viewfinder. Regardless it's a
great little point and shoot camera.
There is a folding viewfinder
cover/shield. This is
the flash synchronized version which
was first produced in 1946; however,
the same camera without the flash
began production in 1941.
Kodak Reflex Circa 1946
Kodak Reflex's were produced from 1946 through
1949, with the improved Reflex II continuing to
1954. It has a kodak anastar f-3.5
lens, shutter speeds from B to 200 and f-stops
from 3.5 to 22.
It's a cock and fire type, where the
shutter is cocked by pushing the lever up to
cock and down to fire. Aperture is f3.5
to f22. The little pointer at the bottom
of the taking lens is to set the flash sync for
different type flash bulbs. The lens is an
Anastar, and is very sharp for a camera made to
sell at such a reasonable price point.
It's coated, but Kodak called it
Duaflex Circa 1947
The Kodak Duaflex is a 620 roll film pseudo TLR
made by Kodak in the US, Canada, and UK. The
original versions were available from December
1947 - September 1950 in the US, and 1949-1955
in the UK; the Duaflex IV was finally
discontinued in the US in March 1960. The
cameras were made of bakelite plastic, which
would be the trend for most brownie cameras into
A special feature of the Duaflex line was
double-exposure prevention, meaning the advance
knob had to be turned to the next exposure
before the shutter could be activated. This
feature could be overridden by pushing the
little lever below the shutter button.
The Duaflex was a pseudo TLR camera, mimicking
the shape of a Twin Lens Reflex camera, but
lacking any coupling mechanism between the
taking and viewing lenses. The finder is
essentially an oversized brilliant finder, as
found on early Kodak Brownie cameras, not a true
reflex finder with a ground glass indicating the
focus. Pseudo TLRs were produced by many
manufacturers, and were vogue during the 1950s
and early 1960s, when the twin reflex Rollieflex
was the typical professional camera.
Flash Bantam Circa 1947
Kodak Tourist Circa 1948
The Kodak Tourists were the last in
a long line of American made folding
roll film cameras. According
to Kodak the Tourist was introduced
at a price of $95 USD (close to
$1,000 today). The
Tourists use 620 film making 8 2¼×3¼
exposures. The use of 828 roll film
for 8 28×40mm exposures was an
option. The Tourist's most unusual
feature is its back; through the use
of cleverly engineered latches, it
can be opened on the left side,
right side, or removed completely.
Removing the back allows the use of
the multi-format Kodak Tourist
Adapter Kit, which consists of: a
camera back with red windows for 4
different formats; 2¼×2¼ inch, 2¼×1⅝
inch and 28×40mm masks; 828 roll
film supply and take up spool
adapters; and viewfinder masks for
each of the three additional
The Tourists are well made and
feature a die cast aluminum body,
covered in black Kodadur, a
synthetic leather of remarkable
durability. All models feature a
tripod socket, a lens door mounted
shutter release, and eye-level
viewfinders. All Tourists feature
flash synchronization. The Anaston
and Anastar lens models feature
cable release sockets on the
shutter, front-element focusing, and
top mounted accessory shoes.
Frame spacing and shutter cocking
are completely manual.
Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash
The Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model
Camera is recognized as one of the
most popular Brownie cameras made.
It is made of molded bakelite
plastic, but follows closely in the
tradition of the rectangular box
brownie cameras, but without the
second viewfinder. Despite the
popularity of this camera in the US,
in Britain the old style brownie
box, with the rectangular look and
squared corners was continued in
plastic into the 1960s.
It is easy to use and is still
extremely popular with film
photographers because it's cheap to
buy, it comes apart easily for lens
and viewfinder cleaning, and most
will accept 120 film without
respooling it onto 620 spools making
it even easier to shoot with. The
big square negatives it produces are
large enough for contact prints or
can be enlarged for spectacular
sharp prints. The bulb setting for
time exposures rounds off this great
Hawkeye at Brownie Camera
Kodak Signet 35
The Kodak Signet 35 was
Kodak's top American-made 35mm camera of the
1950's and the first of the Kodak Signet camera
line. The Signet 35 has a coupled coincident
image rangefinder, an excellent Ektar 44mm f3.5
lens with rear helicoid focus, automatic film
stop counter with double exposure prevention,
all built into a sturdy cast aluminum alloy
The lens was the Tessar
formula adapted to newer glass types and the
focal distance (44mm) is the closest to the
diagonal for 35mm film(43.3mm). Maximum
aperture was that of the original Tessar design
it is 3.5 closing up to 22. Lens performance is
excellent even for today´s standards and is
coated and color corrected. It´s an extremely
strong camera because the body itself is a thick
cast machined aluminum single piece. There are
two military versions: one finished in black
anodized aluminum made for the USAF, and another
finished in olive green made for the Army. The
camera itself is made of aluminum alloy (body),
chromed brass and some stainless steel parts.
Kodak Retinette Model 017
This Model 017 was the last of the folding Retinette cameras, manufactured from 1951 to 1954. The Retinettes were an economy version of the Kodak Retina line of cameras. This is basically a Retina 1 Model 016 with a lesser lens, but most other features and the same quality of build.
I took this picture with my oldest Nikkor F lens, a 50mm S-Auto f/1.4 from 1959. My older Nikkor S lenses won't fit on the digitals. Set at f/11 it has great depth of field, with just a mild diffraction.
Brownie Holiday Flash Camera Circa 1953
With the discontinuation of the brownie box
camera in the US, Kodak offered a wide selection
of brownie-branded cameras. This
one is among the closest models representing the
lineage of simplicity. This was a common
plastic case which featured a variety of model
names including Brownie Holiday Flash and
Kodak Retina IIc
The Retina IIc
features interchangeable lenses, which were
compatible with the IIIc (below). Several
lens options were available, but the camera
could not be closed with the longer lenses.
Kodak Retina IIIc
The Retina IIIc is
the first Retina with a built in light meter,
but was otherwise similar to the IIc above.
This camera has a 35mm accessory lens, which
protrudes 2 to 3 times further than the original
equipment 50mm lens (shown on the IIc above).
Kodak Retina IIIc
The same camera as
above with the 80mm lens and auxiliary
viewfinder, which adjusts for parallax views and
switches between 35mm and 80mm views. This
photo is a compound of two images taken with a
Nikkor 55mm micro lens, which is incredibly
sharp, but has a shallow depth of field.
Duaflex IV Circa 1955
The Eastman Kodak
Duaflex camera line started in 1947 through
1960. There were four models that were produced
up to the Duaflex IV which was produced from
1955 to 1960. The view finder cover
was introduced on the Duaflex II, and midway in
the production of this model the look changed to
be similar to the Duaflex IV shown here.
The imitation crank handle was added for the
Designed as a
cheap, lightweight, easy to operate twin lens
camera made of bakelite. These cameras used 620
film for 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch square pictures.
Both fixed and focusing models were available
with Kodet lens.
Kodak Type 025 Retina Reflex Circa 1957
The Kodak Reflex was Kodak's first single lens
reflex camera, a modification of the Retina
IIIc, one of the last of the folding viewfinder
cameras, a lineage back to the Retina shown
Like many SLR
cameras of German heritage it works with a leaf
shutter instead of a focal plane shutter.
reflex is basically a fixed-lens camera
except for one aspect - the front three elements
are contained in a cell that bayonets into the
front of the lens assembly. The standard front
cell can be replaced with one of three Schneider
components - an 80mm and two different 35mm
components. The rear part of the lens (which is
a permanent part of the camera body) contains
the focusing apparatus, the entire Synchro-Compur shutter, the aperture, and the
three rear elements, which are common to all 4
lenses. This interchangeable front component
concept was introduced in 1954 with the Kodak
This model was
only produced for two years before being
replaced with a significantly upgraded Reflex S
lens with the Deckel mounting system,
named after the manufacturer of the Prontor,
Compur and other shutters. This same mount, with
minor differences, was also used by a number of
other German camera makers, and was truly
interchangeable in a modern sense, including
with the Instamatic Reflex shown below.
History of Retina Reflex
Kodak Type 034 Retina Reflex S Circa 1959
The Type 034 Retina Reflex S is a major redesign
of the original Retina Reflex, produced in 1959
and 1960. A new lens system was employed, made
available a year earlier for the Kodak Retina
IIIS rangefinder camera. The concept eliminates
the rear lens group, permitting a much wider
range of accessory lenses for the camera,
subsequently also used in Retina Reflex III,
Retina Reflex IV, and the Kodak Instamatic
Reflex, all having the same mount.
The shutter, now an integral part of the camera
body, was a SLR Synchro-Compur behind the lens
unit, with speeds from 1 sec. to 1/500 sec. and
B. A small lever on the right-hand side of the
shutter has settings for M and X flash
synchronization, as well as V for self-timer.
The Retina Reflex line would only last until
1966, though the instamatic version would
continue until 1974, though not specifically
branded as a Retina.
Kodak Brownie Starflash Circa 1957
This was the first Kodak with the flash
mechanism incorporated into the camera's body.
This model was popular until the mid 1960s when
flash cubes became popular.
Kodak Instamatic 100 Circa 1963
This was the first of the instamatic cameras
line featuring easy-to-use
cartridge-loading film, which eventually brought
amateur photography to new heights of
popularity. More than 50 million
Instamatic Cameras were produced by 1970.
Kodak even gave away a considerable number in a
joint promotion with Scott paper towels in the
early 1970s in order to generate a large number
of new photographers and stimulate lasting
demand for its film business.
Though Kodak had its own proprietary "126"
numbering for the first instamatic cartridges,
this was 35mm film in an easy to load disposable
cartridge. This cartridge film was
produced by Kodak until 1998.
The easy-load film cartridge made the cameras
very inexpensive to produce, as it provided the
film backing plate and exposure counter itself
and thus saved considerable design complexity
and manufacturing cost for the cameras. A wide
variety of print and slide film was sold by
Kodak in the 126 format.
Kodak Fiesta R4 Circa 1966
The Brownie Fiesta R4 has a molded plastic body
with clear plastic front over lens plate. This
simple camera has an optical direct vision
finder. The Brownie FiestaR4 had the addition of
a flashcube socket which was considered an
improvement over the single bulb flash
attachment available with all of the other
Fiesta models. This was the last of the
brownie line of film cameras with production
ending in March 1970. For the most part,
this market segment had become dominated by the
Kodak Instamatic Reflex Circa 1969
This was a top of the line camera in the
Instamatic line with an interchangeable
adjustable lens. It was made in Germany
along with the Kodak Retina line of cameras, and
was designed to share the Retina S Mount lenses.
As a kid our family had a similar instamatic but
without the the interchangeable lens.
The item on the top is a 4-shot disposable
"flashcube". This camera was produced from
1969 to 1974.
The Reflex has aperture-priority automatic
exposure via a CdS light meter and one of the
first electronic shutters - a Compur Electronic.
The metering system sensed the film speed from
the cartridge, which could indicate 64, 80, 125
or 160 ASA. The lenses were interchangeable,
having a Retina S-Series mount, so it could use
the existing Retina lenses. The viewfinder had a
display of the automatically-selected shutter
speed, and a focusing screen with a split-image
rangefinder. Flash was provided by Flashcubes -
with automatic exposure, when using the 45/2.8
lens - or an accessory flashgun connected via a
PC socket beside the Flashcube mount.