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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shooting 120 in the No.1A Pocket Kodak



Stuffing this rather large Kodak folding camera into a pocket is a challenge most won't want to take on. However, making pictures with it turns out to be surprisingly painless. A Google search on the subject of using 120 film in cameras designed for the big A116 format will turn up quite a few solutions, most involving rather extensive camera modifications. I tried out of few of those myself with my No.1A Folding Pocket Special.



The basic black 1A Pocket model came along about two decades after the red bellows Special, and it incorporated some significant design changes that are not really apparent until you open up the camera. The most important of those is a boxy inner portion that holds the supply-side spool in place without the need for pins to engage the spool ends. The happy result for present-day users is that currently available 120 rollfilm can be used with no mechanical modifications to the camera. In modern terms, the solution is in the programming rather than in the hardware.

16 comments:

jimgrey said...

You're getting great results from this old folder. I've never been all that excited about adapting 116/616 cameras to 120 but it's good to know that there's one out there that can be used that way as is.

Mike said...

It's really a pretty capable shooter. The panoramic images are fun, but the sharp lens also makes it possible to select a small portion of the big negative for enlargement. This was my first roll through the camera. I used TMAX 100 and developed in HC-110, dilution H.

Julio F said...

That's a very important tip. Thanks for sharing it.

That cat looks majestic.

Norman Montifar said...

Mike, I'm amazed how good you are in exploiting the best capabilities of these old cameras.

Mike said...

Many thanks for the feedback and kind words. It's nice to know that the pictures get seen.

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Mike,

Can you tell me what the needle shaped tool is that sits in a pair of slots beside the lens on this camera? My sister has both a 1A Pocket and a 2A Folding Cartridge Premo. We're going to be selling them soon, and I'd like to know what that tool is for in case anyone asks. I'm guessing it has something to do with the film, but I'm not at all sure. (We've never shot any film with either.)

Thanks,

Bill

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Nevermind Mike. I just realized it's the writing stylus for the autograph feature.

Mike said...

You got it. The Autographic system was offered on most of the old Kodak folders between 1914 and 1932. The company made a big deal about the feature, but I've never come across a print with an Autographic note on it.

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Yeah, I was thinking how much easier it would be to simply keep a notepad in my pocket too.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered rolling your own 616 from 70mm film?

I have done it with 127 and about to start with the 616 for a Kodak No.1 that I have.

Ilford offers 50ft of 70mm B&W when they have their ULF special every year.

Mike said...

I haven't given it much thought for this camera because I'm happy enough with the results of using 120. Most of the older folders, though, don't accept 120 so easily, and using 70mm is certainly a good idea. I recall seeing some pretty good tutorials on the process on the web.

I don't normally allow anonymous comments, but have made an exception in this case since you are obviously not trying to sell me something.

Peter Koronaios said...

I am interested in buying a Kodak camera of that age, but I have not seen it to know the type. It could be a Pocket 1 (120), a 1A (116) a Pocket 2 (130) or a Scout (127).

Do all Kodak cameras of that age have problems with removing the film (meaning the film should be removed in the dark)?

Peter

Mike said...

The No.1 and No.2 Kodaks which were made before 1932 used standard 120 film which can still be obtained and which present no problems with loading and unloading. The problem with the No.1A Kodak is that it was designed for a larger film format which was discontinued about thirty years ago. Companies other than Kodak continued making cameras which would use 120 film, so you might also consider some of the commonly available early folding cameras from those makers.

Unknown said...

My father has just revealed he has a 1A pocket model that has been sequestered away in a drawer for many years! It's beautiful, and I would like to use it. It seems to be missing the viewfinder, however. Do you have any tips as to how I might use it without one?! Thanks, Katharine.

Mike said...

What good luck to have the camera passed down to you. Do you know if your father ever made any pictures with the old 1A?

The little reflex finders on the old Kodak folders were really only marginally helpful in framing shots because they were usually too small and dim. On my old folders, I generally ignore the built-in finders in favor of an open frame finder which I scavenged off another old camera. I tape it to the top of the camera and it works fine. You can see that on the page on my web site devoted to my No.1 Special at file:///C:/photovintage/vintagecameras/no1special/index.html

If you don't happen to have any old parts cameras lying around you can likely fashion something usable from a calling card or something similar. As long as you get the frame proportions approximately right, the measurements are really not critical. That big negative gives you a lot of room for cropping the image.

Even if you dad's old camera has not been used since he put it away, it may still need a bit of cleaning and adjustment. You can usually just screw out the lens to clean it. Be careful with screwing out the inner lens if there is one so as to not nick the bellows. Also, the bellows sometimes dry out and develop small pinholes. Those can be patched with a small dab of black fabric paint from the craft store.

Mike said...

Sorry I gave the wrong link reference in that last answer. The correct link is http://mconnealy.com/vintagecameras/no1special/index.html

Note that this link will only work for a few more days as I am taking down the web site.