Posts Tagged ‘Camera’

One of my motivations to maintain this blog is hoping to connect different camera collectors from different countries.

Mickey from Canada is one of my most respected camera collectors. He has huge knowledge in camera and photography history. I enjoy reading his comments so much.

Here I would like to share his feedback of my last article “I am a “Twin” – Original Rolleiflex K1 (1929)“. Enjoy!

“Wu and Lu.

What an interesting, informative, well illustrated and attractive post.
You really do delve deeply into all there is to know about an individual camera.

My little addendum is about battlefield cameras. It may be apocryphal but I have no reason to doubt its veracity.

The Kodak Medalist was introduced in 1941 to replace the heavy, bulky, complicated, slow to use Graphic/Graflex type folding press cameras. It took 620 film giving 6 or 8 exposures as well as dry plate, sheet films, film pack. However, I shall not go into all of its many features and attributes.

Regarding battlefield usage I have heard several versions of how photographers were able to fend off attacking enemy soldiers by swinging this almost 3 pound camera at them and killing or disabling them. The photographers were then able to go about their business with their undamaged camera.

I would like to attach a photo of my Medalist I but don’t know how. (E.WU: Thanks Mickey for sending me these pics via email)

Kodak Medalist I

Kodak Medalist I

Kodak Medalist I

Kodak Medalist I

Kodak Medalist I

Kodak Medalist I

I have just spent several happy hours going through your extraordinary site. I am not finished yet.
Thank you for sharing it with us.



Kodak Petite (1929)

Regardless of which era, camera manufacturers are keen on expanding the user base, hope that their products reach the hands of every home. Traditionally, photography-related products most are male-oriented; therefore many camera manufacturers are competing to expand the female market. Let’s take “mirrorless camera” as example, Panasonic introduced the world’s first m43 camera G1 in 2008, the advertisement in Japan was positioning the product in favor of female users. In fact, this is not new, as early as almost one hundred years ago, Kodak has targeted the female market, launched a camera which is specifically for the ladies – the Kodak Petite.

To produce a camera for ladies, manufacturers have to take some efforts on color and pattern. The trick now, most of them change the camera’s color to pink or with some cartoon characters printed on, such as Hello Kitty or Disney characters. But this would never be the strategy in 1929; because the women could enjoy photography in 1920s were ladylike or wealthy ladies. Therefore, the appearance of the camera must be able to express elegant feeling. Kodak Petite can certainly do this, palm-sized camera covered with simple motif of patterns. The folding bellow part is a touch of gray. The delicate impression makes you love this camera at first sight. Really, I first saw this camera in Norway Oslo film museum; I knew I had to have this camera in my collection.

This Kodak Petite is being displayed in Oslo Film Museum

This Kodak Petite is being displayed in Oslo Film Museum

According to the advertisement of Kodak in 1930, Kodak Petite was Paris-inspired. The color mentioned above is just one of the series. The Petite was available in blue, green, grey, lavender, and old rose. The folding bellow part was also with matching color.

I very much admire Kodak in that era, because of their innovative spirit and willingness of achieving the ultimate. The product line was very broad, with continuous improvements and new features. Based on the Kodak Petite, the company decided to introduce the camera gift box sets called “Kodak Ensemble” and “Kodak Coquette” during the holiday seasons. In addition to the elegant Kodak Petite, there were also a mirror, a compact and a lipstick in the box! Yes! A mirror and some cosmetics (supplier: House of Tre-Jur) were bundled in a camera gift box! You may feel that this is very strange, but try to imagine in the old days, taking pictures was not easy. The girls hoped makeup before shooting, it absolutely makes sense.

Kodak Ensemble

Kodak Ensemble

If you look closely, you will find that there is a metal-made pen at the front of the camera. Obviously, this can not be a stylus for touchscreen. In fact, it is used to enter notes on the film. To do it, you have to use a special film called autographic film (A-127 film for Kodak Petite). Autographic film consisted of a tissue-like carbon paper sandwiched between the film and the paper backing. When shooting, open the small window at the back of the camera, the photographer can then “write” something, such as time, location, date. After development, the information will appear in the photo edge. It is a very smart design, can be said that the original version of the exif record!

Kodak Petite (1929) - Back

Kodak Petite (1929) – Back

Autographic film window

Autographic film window

Regarding the functions of this camera, it can be said is extremely simple. Only “I” or “T” shutter speed can be selected. “I” means “Instant shutter” provides around 1/30s exposure time. “T” for “Time”, keeps the shutter open until the shutter release is pressed again, it is used for longer exposure. In addition, Kodak Petite has four different aperture size selections (about f/8, f/16, f/32 and f/64), the largest one is numbered as “1”, and “4” is the smallest.

"I" or "T" shutter

“I” or “T” shutter

4 different aperture size selections

4 different aperture size selections

Finally I met “her” in a camera market in Paris, and the condition is good. So now “she” is a member of my collections.

Kodak Petite (1929)

Kodak Petite (1929)

Owning the camera is not difficult, but it is not simple if you want to revive it. Firstly, there are some small pinholes in the corners of the folds of the bellow, must be patched. In addition, the 127 format film has long been discontinued by Kodak in 1995 (for those who are interested in different film specifications, please visit here), need to find another film instead. I am not going to explain how to deal with those difficulties in this article, let’s enjoy the photos taken by the camera which is full of feminine!

Mask - Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

“Mask” – Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

"Window" - Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

“Window” – Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

"Desk" - Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

“Desk” – Kodak Petite + Fujifilm instax mini film

"Red" - Kodak Petite + Sensor from Olympus EPL-1

“Red” – Kodak Petite + Sensor from Olympus EPL-1

Details of the Camera:

Camera model – Kodak Petite

Type – Folding viewfinder

Year built – ca.1929

Lens – simple meniscus lens

Shutter – Rotary shutter

Shutter speed – “I” or “T”

Made in USA

Ihagee Kine Exakta (1936)

My collection – Ihagee Kine Exakta (1936) – the first 35mm SLR in the world!

Different camera collectors have different preferences and directions. Some collectors like to acquire selected brands (e.g. Leica, Olympus, Nikon etc…), some of them are only collecting several specific types (e.g. Single Lens Reflex (SLR), folding, rangefinder (RF), instant etc…). However, collecting “landmark cameras” is one of the major directions of almost all the collectors. “Landmark camera” that represented the first of the a new breed whose design concept would last and influence other cameras for sometimes. Therefore, such cameras are eminently collectible.

Collectors have frequently debated “the first 35mm SLR” this honor should go to the Soviet Union’s “Cnopm” (meaning “Sport”) or German Ihagee Kine Exakta.

Let’s us talk about “Cnopm” first, it is a 35mm SLR produced by GOMZ (now called LOMO). Special 35mm cassettes are used (not standard 135 cassette created by Kodak) for 50 exposures. Around 16000 “Cnopm” cameras were manufactured. This is ALMOST the first 35mm SLR camera: the concept prototype model was introduced in 1934, but unfortunately it did not in production until 1937.

Soviet Union's "Cnopm" - ALMOST the first 35mm SLR camera

Soviet Union’s “Cnopm” – ALMOST the first 35mm SLR camera

Picture source:

Therefore, Cnopm CANNOT be claimed as the first 35mm SLR, because another 35mm SLR was already in the market in 1936. It is the German Ihagee Kine Exakta. Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co (located in Dresden) introduced the first 127 film SLR in 1933 and just in three years, they manufactured a first 35mm SLR – Kine Exakta too.

Kine Exakta is not only the first 35mm SLR, somebodies also claimed that it is the first system SLR, and the first interchangeable lens SLR with bayonet lens mount. The folding viewfinder is fixed waist-level type (with a magnifier on the top), as pentaprism had not yet been invented in 1936. (N.B. The first SLR with pentaprism eye-level viewfinder is Zeiss Ikon Contax S, produced in 1949).

Fixed waist-level viewfinder of Kine Exakta

Fixed waist-level viewfinder of Kine Exakta

Kine Exakta is equipped with many interesting features, e.g. there is a “film cutter” inside of the camera. That means, if you want to develop the exposed frames of film before you finish the whole roll, you can simply use the cutter to separate the exposed and the non-exposed. Then you can take the exposed film out from the camera in a darkroom to develop it.

Film cutter of Kine Exakta

Film cutter of Kine Exakta

Furthermore, it has a left-handed film advance lever and shutter release, which is different from most of the other cameras. Also unique, the range of shutter speeds on the Kine Exakta is running from 12 sec to 1/1000 sec, with delayed action on 14 of the speeds! It is absolutely a remarkable mechanical shutter.

Left-handed film advance lever

Left-handed film advance lever

Shutter speed dial

Shutter speed dial

Kine Exakta has several sub-versions. Only Kine Exakta version 1 (only 1400 pieces produced) has round magnifier, all the other versions are equipped with rectangular magnifiers.

Kine Exakta with round magnifier

This Kine Exakta is being displayed in TSD – Technische Sammlungen Dresden (Technology Collections Dreden)

As the circular magnifier covered only the central part of the viewed images, many of the round magnifiers were changed by the manufacturer and replaced with the rectangular ones within a few months of production. Therefore Kine Exakta version 1 with round magnifier is very rare (and expensive) now, and the only difference between version 1 and version 2 is only the shape of the magnifier.

My collection (shown on the top of this article) is the Kine Exakta version 2.1 (according to the Aguila and Rouah book 2003 classification) mounted with the Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) 5cm/f2.8 Tessar lens. The camera is very solid, but quite heavy. Because of the fixed waist-level viewfinder, it is not very convenient to use. However, I really love its mechanical part!

Here are some of the pictures taken by this amazing camera, while we were traveling in her motherland (Dresden), Berlin, and Dornach:

Dornach, Switzerland - Film: TMax100

Dornach Goetheanum, Switzerland – Film: TMax100

Jewish Museum Berlin - Film: TMax100

Jewish Museum Berlin – Film: TMax100

Displays of Technische Sammlungen Dresden (TSD) - Film: TMax100

Displays of Technische Sammlungen Dresden (TSD) – Film: TMax100

Technische Sammlungen Dresden (TSD) - Film: TMax100

Technische Sammlungen Dresden (TSD) – Film: TMax100

Lu in Dresden - Film: TMax100

Lu in Dresden – Film: TMax100

Details of the Camera:

Camera model – Kine Exakta I (version 2.1)

Year built – 1936-1937

Lens mount – Ihagee bayonet (Exakta bayonet)

Lens – Carl zeiss Jena (CZJ) 5cm/f2.8 Tessar

Shutter – Textile focal plane shutter

Shutter speed – 12 sec to 1/1000 sec

Total quantity built: 13200 (version 2.1)

Made in Germany

Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) 5cm lens

Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) 5cm lens

bayonet lens mount of Kine Exakta

bayonet lens mount of Kine Exakta

Do you want to attend one of the largest photo fairs in The world? Today and tomorrow (June 2 & 3 2012), there is the 49th international Photo Fair in Bièvres, France. Bièvres Photo Fair is a major photographic event and camera market every year. Over 300 exhibitors, 100 artists, and 15000 visitors are attending this event. Last year I was there, and brought several old cameras, e.g. Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta C (example shots), Polaroid SONAR SX-70 (Introduction) etc…

Some information of the 49th International Photo Fair:
Dates: 2012 June 2nd from 2 to 9 PM; June 3rd from 7 AM to 6 PM
Location: Place de la Mairie, Bièvres (Essonne), France
How to go: 12 km south of Paris, reached though N118 RER C: Bièvres stop

For more information, please visit their official website:

At 11:30 on the morning of May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt Everest, 29,028 feet above sea level, the highest spot on earth!!

The Ascent of Everest

The Ascent of Everest

It is the picture (source) of the Tenzing Norgay on the top of Mt Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary was the photographer.

If you are familiar with luxury watches (sorry I am not…), you must know it is the story behind the Rolex Explorer I – the first watch reached the highest mountain in the world, Mt Everest.
To my surprise, not so many people care or ask about which camera was used for this difficult task in 1953. What camera in 1953 was able to function well to capture this wonderful image at the highest spot on earth. The answer is here: Kodak Retina type 118 (RETINA 118). Retina 118 was produced in 1935-1936 and was the successor of Retina 117, which was introduced in my last article [Link].  Retina 118 is very similar to Retina 117,  except the rewind clutch lever was moved from film knob to the back of the top cover, and the film sprocket shaft extends across camera body. According to the record, only 9144 pieces of Retina 118 were produced.

Back of Kodak Retina type 118

Back of Kodak Retina type 118

You may question about why Sir Edmund Hillary had to use a 1935 camera to finish a 1953 Mt Everest expedition.  Obviously, Kodak was NOT the sponsor of their task. Sir Edmund bought his Retina 118 from a second hand shop and did some minor modifications, e.g. adding a small extension that was attached to the film advance lever. This allowed the operation of the film advance with heavy gloves. Now the camera was on display at an Auckland Museum.

My collection, Retina 118, is equipped with Xenar lens and Compur shutter.
It is a very compact and durable camera, so good for travel (if you don’t mind it is just a viewfinder camera, with no light metering).

Kodak Retina type 118 (1935)

Kodak Retina type 118 (1935)

Here I shared some of my photos, which were taken by this legendary camera during last Christmas…

Heidelberg Castle - Film: TMax100

Heidelberg Castle – Film: TMax100

^ This picture was taken under heavy rain in German Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle - Double Exposure - Film: TMax100

Heidelberg Castle – Double Exposure – Film: TMax100

^ Retina has no double exposure prevention system, you can  use it to create creative double exposure images

Heidelberg Christmas Market - Film: TMax100 - Model: Lu

Heidelberg Christmas Market – Film: TMax100 – Model: Lu

^ Do you like the bokeh of this  f3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar Lens

Inside of Basel Munster - Film: TMax100

Inside of Basel Munster – Film: TMax100

^ Inside of the Basel Munster in Switzerland, 4s exposure time 

Details of the Camera:

Camera model – Retina type 118

Year built – 1935-1936

Lens – f3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar (SN: 815333)

Shutter – Compur

Shutter speed – T, B, 1sec to 1/300 sec

Total quantity built: 9,144

Made in Germany

Retina type 117

Last time, we introduce the history of roll films developed by Kodak [link]. Up till now, 135 format is still the most popular film size format and is defined as the standard.

For this article, we would like to talk about the 135 roll film old friend:   Kodak Retina (Type 117), product of 1934-1935!

The Retina cameras were manufactured at Kodak A.G. in what had previously been the Dr. August Nagel Camerawerk factory (acquired by George Eastman, owner of Kodak in 1932) in Stuttgart, Germany. The first Retina camera, Retina type 117, was introduced in the summer of 1934 along with a new 35mm film Daylight Loading Cartridge (DLC). Therefore, Retina 117 is the world’s first camera to use 135 DLC film after it was created by Kodak.

Since then, Leica and Contax fans stopped to use the special hand-loaded-in-the-darkroom cassettes, and most of the 35mm cameras use the same 135 DLC cartridges, even currently.

The Retina type 117 was replaced by the Retina type 118 within a year, the total production number is around 60,000.

Kodak Retina type 117 - folded front

Kodak Retina type 117 – folded front

Kodak Retina type 117 - folded side

Kodak Retina type 117 – folded side

Kodak Retina type 117 - folded back

Kodak Retina type 117 – folded back

Kodak Retina type 117 - bottom

Kodak Retina type 117 – bottom

Kodak Retina 117 DoF scale

Kodak Retina 117 DoF scale

Retina 117 unfolded

Retina 117 unfolded

Kodak Retina 117 - Lens and Shutter

Kodak Retina 117 – Lens and Shutter

Kodak Retina 117 unfolded - side

Kodak Retina 117 unfolded – side view

Kodak Retina type 117 unfolded - side view

Kodak Retina type 117 unfolded – side view

Details of the Camera:

Camera model – Retina type 117

Year built – 1934-1935

Lens – f3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar (SN: 706994)

Shutter – Compur

Shutter speed – T, B, 1sec to 1/300 sec

Total quantity built: ~ 60,000

Made in Germany

Did you start to collect your lovely vintage / antique cameras?

There are many ways to acquire old and classic camera, most of the people nowadays are buying their collections on web (e.g. eBay…).

However, for me the best way is to touch it, try it, and test it – before you buy it! In Europe, there are many different camera markets (fotomarkt) in different scale. On coming 11-Mar-2012, there will be a big scale camera market in Bern, Switzerland.

If you are interested, you can go to the following link (in German) for further information:

Many people want their Polaroid SX-70 camera (Introduction of SX-70) can use Polaroid 600 film or the PX680 / PZ600 film from the IMPOSSIBLE project store. However, as the iso/ASA of the 600 film is different (600 vs 100) from the SX-70 time zero film (or the IMPOSSIBLE project PX-70 PUSH!). If we use the 600 film directly on the Polaroid SX-70 camera, the pictures will be over-exposed. Therefore, we have to do modification to convert the SX-70 camera to uptake 600 film

There are many ways to convert the Polaroid SX-70 camera, but all methods are based on the same principle – to reduce the light intensity reaching the film. Some people would change the photocell of the light meter, some people may apply filters on the integral film. However, the simplest (and the reversible) way is to attach a ND (neutral density) filter on the lens. In future, if you would like to use back the original SX-70 (or PX-70) films, you just need to remove the filter. Very easy

This kind of ND filter is very common, you can easily find it on web (e.g. eBay) or camera shops

Usually, it is an 1-stop ND filter with a sticker, what you have to do is just stick the ND filter to the front part of the lens

Unfolding the SX-70. If you are using SX-70 SONAR OneStep with auto-focus function, please change to manual focus mode

Dial the focusing dial to make the lens move forward to the front end

Simply attach the ND filter to your SX-70. However, as SX-70 is a SLR, so the light reaching the viewfinder will be reduced as well. It is the drawback of this method

If you are interested in Polaroid Cameras, please visit the following blog articles

How to revive your Polaroid 450

Polaroid SX-70 SONAR OneStep. Product of 1978

This is the end of the line for Olympus folding cameras. After some 20 years of production folders are no longer popular as the 35mm compact is set to take over the world.

The Olympus Chrome Six RII has an uncoupled rangefinder, an advance lever and an auto-stop advance device. The top housing is designed in the same style as the Chrome Six V. The uncoupled rangefinder is driven by a knob falling under the right thumb, then the distance reading is manually transferred to the lens focusing ring. The viewfinder eyepiece is offset to the left, the same as on the Chrome Six V, and the round second image window is on the right.

Model B is fitted with the f2.8 lens (Model A is fitted with f3.5 lens). Produced in 1955. Very Rare.

The original box

The original manual

The original manual in Japanese

Certificate with 3 years warranty

The original leather case – close

The original leather case – open

New member in our WaLL Museum!!

Top view

Front view

The Lens: Zuiko F.C. f/2.8

The bellow in excellent condition

The Lens: Zuiko F.C. f/2.8; 7.5cm (75mm)

DoF scale

66 or 645 film window

Uncoupled Rangefinder; and the serial number

Uncoupled film winder

Mask for 645 – You can decide to take 645 or 66 format before film loading

The whole set of Olympus Six RIIB

Olympus Chrome Six RIIB  – the last Olympus medium format camera