Since I’ve been experimenting with medium format, and I had a roll of FP4+ rolled for 620 burning a hole in my pocket, I thought I’d take one of my old Kodaks our for a spin. This particular camera, the Junior Six-20 Series II was manufactured in the late 1930s – probably around 1937 or 1938, so that would make it almost 90 years old (maybe about 85). In the image below you can even see the “Sports” finder that you could pop up quickly to capture action – well action was a bit more relaxed back then, I guess.
These were considered compact cameras in 1937, and the cost was $14 (approx. $257 today). So, they weren’t inexpensive, but gave non-professional photographers a camera they could use. Selling points for similar cameras in the early 20th century were “You don’t need a darkroom”. Focusing was completely manual, and consisted of setting the lens to the correct subject distance, etched on the side of the lens barrel in feet and meters. The lens on mine is a Kodak lens with a built in leaf shutter, and adjustments for aperture (f/6.3-f/32) and shutter speeds (T, B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100). So by today’s standards, very limited. Back then, this allowed the average photographer some flexibility over the fixed focus and even fixed shutter speeds and f-stops of many cameras.
I chose to try out this particular camera, from my box of old Kodaks, because the shutter sounds like it’s fairly accurate, and the lens looks fairly clear. Many of these old lenses tend to be foggy or hazy from sitting around in a musty closet for 70+ years. When lenses sit around in damp, musty conditions, all kinds of things can mess them up – like molds and fungi. Once nasty stuff get’s between the elements of a lens, it’s very difficult to clean it up without any negative effects. One of the other issues with these very old cameras is that they weren’t that precise in the first place, and if someone tinkered with it, or took the lens off, for example, it’s hard to get things back they way they are supposed to be.
So, all that to say that my images didn’t really turn out very well. My shutter isn’t quite as accurate as I thought, and the lens isn’t quite as clear as I thought. There are likely light leaks in this camera, and the focus is off – possibly because someone removed the lens and didn’t get it back on right (and I have no idea how to tell if it’s on correctly or not).
Here’s a few of the shots I took today in my yard – just for fun. Exposure isn’t really that bad. Focus is very bad, and the lens must have some haze on the inside that I can’t see too well. Also, I didn’t go below 1/50th of a second, but that must not be accurate, because the images of my dog are blurred.
Thanks for taking a look at my experiments! I hope photography is helping you through our pandemic as well as it’s helping me.