Thursday, February 27, 2014

The folder's last gasp

The Kodak Vigilant Six-20 and the slightly more upscale Monitor were the company's last stab at marketing a medium-format folding camera.  By 1948 when the line came to an end, people were ready to move on to new paradigms in photography.  The Anastigmat Special lens and the Supermatic shutter were as about good as anything available at the time, but the ergonomics of the Vigilant left a lot to be desired.  Estimating focus with a 101mm lens is not for the faint of heart, and neither the flip-up finder on the top deck nor the tiny reflex viewer over the lens offered much help in accurately framing the composition.

I have the top-tier lens and shutter on both the Vigilant and the Monitor.  I acquired them each for a song before anyone realized they were rather hard to find.  Unfortunately, my restoration skills were pretty rudimentary at the time and I haven't come close yet to allowing them to express their full potential.

These shots are from a brief morning stroll in the Nob Hill district of Albuquerque.  I'll try to get back there again soon to see if I can get a little more from the last of the Kodak folders.


Jim said...

I would love to find a Vigilant outfitted with the best lens and shutter. I really enjoy the lens in my Monitor but now that I've put a few rolls through it find its usability to be disappointing. The Vigilant's more basic usability should be easier to deal with.

I'm focusing on shooting my Nikon F2 this year so I'm not sure how seriously I'll be looking at old folders.

Mike said...

Yes, the Monitor has a spiffy, more modern design, but the Vigilant is easier to shoot with. Both will usually benefit from the use of a tripod and a cable release, like any of the old folders.