Friday, January 08, 2010


The Kodak No.1 Autographic Special is the most interesting camera in my collection. It was built about 1915 and represented the state of the art at the time in many respects. Few other cameras then had shutters like the dashpot-operated Optimo with speeds from 1 second to 1/300. The Bausch and Lomb Tessar, licensed from Zeiss, was recomputed to allow a fast f4.5 aperture. The camera's overall construction was of very high quality and included features that put it into the luxury class including a finely-textured sealskin covering. The resolution of the images from the lens combined with the 6cmx9cm format is astounding.

Shooting a 6x9 with no rangefinder is a challenge I haven't really mastered. I've found it generally a good idea to put the camera on a tripod and shoot at small apertures, so subjects that lend themselves to a slow and careful approach usually work out best.

To enhance my chances a bit more I also recently did a little work on the shutter, and I recollimated the lens. Setting the infinity focus is a little difficult on this camera. One has to loosen a screw that is beneath the flip-out tab on the cover, and then adjust the little stop button fore and aft in front of the lens mount.

I think I've got it right now, so we'll see if I can make some pictures that do justice to this fine old Kodak.


Julio F said...

Outstanding pictures, and thanks for the explanation on adjusting focus. Might be able to get a 1A locally, and they use 120 film!

Mike said...

The No.1 Special came with several combinations of lens and shutter. Mine is the first model, which has the slide-open back. Watch the model designations closely; the 1A model takes 116 film. I like my 1A too, but it takes a bit more effort to get pictures from it.