Kodak Vigilant Six-20

This old camera is actually in pretty good shape. There were a few versions of the Kodak Vigilant camera. Mine has a Kodak Anastigmat 103mm f/4.5 lens with a Kodamatic No. 1 shutter, with speeds from 1/10th to 1/200th of a second (plus B and T). I thought it would be interesting to see if it still worked, and how well it worked.

This camera was made in the 1930’s or 40’s, and takes 620 film – and that’s a bit of a problem since 620 film is a little hard to get, or respool. I buy from www.filmphotographyproject.com, but there are probably local stores that respool 120 film onto 620 spools.

The first thing I noticed was that the film advance was very hard. So hard, in fact, that I had to use a pair of pliers to turn it. The film spool holder seems very tight, and that was causing the tightness in winding. I’m not sure if I can do anything to make that work better, but I probably won’t be shooting many rolls of film with this camera.

I shot one of my rolls of FP4 Plus – ISO 125 – through this camera… and all of my shots were extremely over exposed (dense black). Old cameras tend to not have shutter speeds that we consider standard these days. This camera has 1/200th, 1/100th, 1/50th, 1/25th and 1/10th. So, it takes a little guess work to take light meter readings and translating to the proper camera settings. And, on top of that, the shutters on these cameras are likely just not that reliable.

I may try this camera again, or one of my other antiques, but it’s a bit discouraging when things don’t work. I think I just have to decide if I want to spend my time tinkering with cameras of this age. We’ll have to see.