I love vintage Kodak cameras.
These Kodak TLR-ish cameras are essentially lo-fi toy cameras by today’s standards. However, I would argue they have a better build quality and produce “better” images than the Holga. These Kodak cameras are certainly more reliable and consistent.
I have put hundreds of rolls of film through these old Kodak cameras over the last 20 years. There are so many choices and they are plentiful on the internet and at thrift stores. So, there is no reason to spend a lot of money on one. Medium format film is also still widely available and getting it processed is quite easy as well through the many online labs. I would recommend The Darkroom and Blue Moon Camera and Machine.
The Duaflex first hit the market in late 1947 and made its departure in 1957. It is a twin lens camera,. The top lens is a viewing lens and the bottom lens takes the picture. There are multiple versions and a couple of different lens options. The Kodet which is focus-free three element lens at about f15 and the Kodar 72mm triplet zone-focus lens with a three aperture selector with Waterhouse stops of f8, 11, and 16. All these camera models had two shutter speeds, 1/50th sec-ish and bulb. so something to think about.
The film is readily available-ish.
This Kodak, like most other Kodak family cameras of this vintage shoots 620 medium format roll film. 620 film is identical stock to the older 120 film. Kodak released 120 roll film around 1901 with the Brownie camera. Kodak then released to 620 film in 1931-32 with a new Kodak Six-20 camera. 620 is the same length and width as 120. It also has the same markings on the backing paper. The only difference is, 620 uses a different spool. I suspect that they saw that other film companies were selling 120 roll film and they needed to reclaim the market. So instead of retooling their film cutting machines, they could just make a new spool and the new cameras and sell the new film.
It’s actually quite easy to re-spool 120 film onto a 620 spool. I think it’s worth the effort. Here is a great YouTube video on how to do it. Also, I would recommend buying some extra spools or even buying some pre-re-spooled film from the good people over at the Film Photography Project.
How to shoot one of these cameras.
- Load the camera with film.
- Look through the viewfinder.
- Press the shutter button.
Yes, it is just that easy. It does take a little planning before you go out shooting for the day. Personally, I will spool up several varieties of film, usually black and white, but often a nice color film and occasionally a slide film.
There were a couple of considerations I keep in mind. What’s the lighting condition? If it’s overcast, then I will probably shoot a B&W film like HP5+ or even TMax 400. If necessary, I could push or even slightly pull the development. With TMax, I could comfortably expose at a good +/- 1 stop without worries. If I want to shoot color film, I keep a piece of black tape on the number window first, but red light leaks are still fun. If it’s sunny, then I love Ektar or Fujicolor Reala.
The shutter button is on the side of the camera, so keeping it steady could be a challenge. With the neck strap on, I like to pull down to keep the camera still and gently push the shutter button. There is no cable release so you really have to make sure the camera is placed securely on the tripod.
At the end of the day…
Low Fidelity photography speaks to people very differently. Shooting Holgas and Kodak Box Cameras is not for every photographer. Images are never perfect, but it seems the more you shoot with them, the more you want to shoot with them. You should give it a try some time.