Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Deco Beauty

There are quite a few pictures of the aviator, Amelia Earhart, holding a Kodak Duo Six-20 camera.  This one was probably on board her Lockheed Electra when it went down somewhere in the Central Pacific in 1937. 

I picked up my Duo Six-20 recently on ebay for $29.  I was a little apprehensive about being the only bidder on the camera as you wonder what defects you might have overlooked that others saw.  Luckily, my fears were unfounded, and the camera was in very nice shape for its age.  The only real sign of use was the paint worn away from the metal trim.  It is a little tempting to try to retouch those worn spots, but I think I prefer to let the camera wear a bit of its history.

I cleaned all the lens surfaces, got some tape residue off the back panel, and applied some black dye and Kiwi Parade Gloss to restore the leather.  The T and B settings were a little sticky, but the other shutter speeds all seemed good.  One tiny pinhole in the bellows was patched with a dab of black fabric paint.

This Duo Six-20 has a 70mm f3.5 Kodak Anastigmat lens that is nicely sharp and which renders tones beautifully. The camera is a bit smaller than the Series II model which I have had for some time, and it does not have the top-deck shutter release.  I shot my first roll in the camera this morning while walking around the UNM campus.


Jim said...

Nice shots with your Duo. That lens sure is tempting, but I'm so over 620 film.

Mike said...

It's a little bother, but all my medium format favorites use 620: Brownie Hawkeye Flash, Monitor, Vigilant, Duo Six-20, Reflex II, Anscoflex Forty, and the Ansco Panda.
I used to just trim the spool ends with some nail clippers, but I found that re-rolling onto 620 reels smooths out the film advance quite a bit. I put a little tutorial on the process on the Camera Restoration page of my web site.

Julio F said...

Looks an even match compared to the contemporary Ikontas for the same format. I always wondered if the move to 620 had payed off for Kodak.

Mike said...

I think the 620 format must have been a profit-making idea given the length of time it endured, at least in the U.S. It was mostly a ploy to dominate the American film market; I don't know to what extent it affected the European market.

Aside from enjoying the advantages of a monopoly market position, Kodak also had a lot more skill in advertising than most of its competition. I doubt is was accidental that Earhart was pictured so often holding a Kodak product, including some shots in front of her stylish Lockheed Electra or the sleek Cord roadster. Zeiss publicity shots from the same period tended to feature a junge Frau in a khaki shirt and dark necktie.