Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dusty Images, Vintage Gears Part III: Kodak INSTAMATIC 50 - "The World's First 126 Film Compact Point-&-Shoot Camera"

So I have found ROBI and then the "Tin Can-mera", which both seem so foreign to modern photography enthusiasts. Flip those history books and google up "vintage cameras"; you probably find TLRs and some early SLRs. Fast forward a few years or maybe decades, to a time where more user-friendly photo-capturing devices evolved. This time, I will show you a simple no-frills point-and-shoot compact camera that the modern generation of digital photography enthusiasts can relate to.

Kodak should not sound so foreign to you. To many, the name can be found on the tiny yellow box containing a roll of 35mm film. But Kodak or in fact, Eastman Kodak Company is more than just a renowed photography film manufacturer; the US MNC manufactures cameras as well. Despite having ceased production of their film cameras in 2004, Kodak continues to produce digital cameras bearing the "EasyShare" label. Till this day, Kodak remains close to our hearts with their slogan "You Press The Button and We Do The Rest". In fact, that is exactly what we do with this classic camera.

In 1963, Kodak introduced the INSTAMATIC series of cameras. This series were the first cameras to utilise Kodak's then new 126 format film (an inexpensive, easy-to-load film cartridge). In February 1963, the first INSTAMATIC camera, INSTAMATIC 50 was launched in the UK. This model was soon followed by the US version, INSTAMATIC 100, which had a built-in 'peanut' flash. The INSTAMATIC series was an incredible success which later triggered the production of many imitations. Nevertheless, the inexpensive INSTAMATIC 50 compact point-and-shoot camera took the world by storm, even being given out along with SCOTT paper towels. This eventually led to a generation where everyone can 'shoot' and amateur casual photography became common; a clever business strategy to boost the sales of their 126 film. Shortly after, other big brothers of the photography industry started manufacturing their versions of the INSTAMATIC.

Type: Viewfinder mechanical camera
Manufacturer: Kodak
Year of Launch: 1963
Film: 126 film cartridges (28×28 mm)
Lens: Single 11/43 meniscus lens
Focus mode: Fixed focus
Aperture: Fixed
Shutter: 1/40 (flash synch.) or 1/90 sec.
Flash: Connector for special flash

Did you know that Kodak developed the first 35mm color film, "Kodachrome", in 1936?

above left: shutter speed switch for normal and flash sync. photography.
above right: shutter release button, as Kodak says "You Press The Button and We Do The Rest"

above left: connector for external flash.
above right: lever that cranks the film forward.

above: take a look inside the simple construction of the INSTAMATIC camera.

Did you know that then Kodak scientist, Steven Sasson, invented digital camera in 1975?

above: look into the small optical viewfinder

isn't the simple cuboid classic point-and-shoot compact camera a charm in the palm?

Did you know that Kodak invented the first megapixel (1.4MP) sensor for digital cameras in 1986?

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