Folding Pocket Kodak, Model B (1897)
Folding Pocket Kodak, Model B
The Folding Pocket Kodak is an American folding camera manufactured from 1897-1899 in Rochester, NY. It takes 12, 2 1/2in. x 3 1/4in. pictures on a roll of No.105 film. This is the first ever folding camera in the form factor that we know it.
The Folding Pocket Kodak is a very well made camera. It is made of fine varnished cherry wood and aluminum and brass fittings. The leather covering it is also 1/8in. thick. Despite being my oldest folding camera (obviously), the bellows is in the best shape of them all.
Like several contemporary box cameras, the Folding Pocket Kodak has a fixed focus meniscus achromat lens. This has three apertures selectable with a tab on the top of the camera: f/11, f/16, & f/22. The shutter is a bit curious-- it is rotary, but is actuated with a single button. Time mode is selected by triggering the shutter with a separate lever on the side of the front standard. This is a very efficient design, and I appreciate its innovation. There is only one Instant speed, which is 1/50s.
To open the camera, the metal tab on the side is slid to the side and the back section of the camera is slid off. Since the native film is No. 105, this means that you can use No. 120 film in it with no modification (provided that you use every other 645 number, 2, 4, 6, etc.) due to the fact that the spools are the same length and have the same winding spade. Once film is loaded, the back may be replaced and the camera used. To erect the camera for use, the front standard is simply pulled straight out to the forwardmost point. Likewise, to collapse it, the front standard is simply just pushed in.
Much to my chagrin, several viewfinders of contemporary cameras are unusable, but the ones on the Folding Pocket Kodak are actually quite usable. Mine are exceptionally clear and amply bright for use in daylight. There are two on the camera, one for portrait and one for landscape.
This camera may in fact be my main folder. I love using it, and the lens is excellent. The one gripe I have with it is that it is quite large for modern pockets, but this is mostly negated by its great features and ease of use.