Posts Tagged ‘old cameras’

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: