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Wednesday
Apr202011

Kodak No.1 Pocket Folding 120 Camera Video Review

(If you can't see the video please click here.)

 No.1 Pocket Kodak Camera

This is a type of camera that I've been searching for at the local car boot sales for a long time. I have been fascinated by these really old bellows type cameras and the type of photographs they might take. Sure, I've seen these a few times, but usually the buyer wants too much, it's in too poor a condition, or it doesn't take 120 film (which is readily available today).

This No.1 Pocket Kodak however ticked all the boxes. It was cheap, in reasonable condition, and said right on the back "Use Kodak Film A120".

The A stands for Autographic. There's a sliding cover on the back of the camera that can be rolled back so that with a stylus (missing from my example) you could have written on the negative if you had loaded Kodaks special version of A120 - it was EXIF data for the early 20th Century. Unfortunately Kodak stopped making this film in the '30s, but normal 120 roll film works fine instead.

Untitled-9

 The No.1 Pocket Kodak creates beautiful large negatives - 6cm x 9cm, which means you only get 8 shots from a roll of 120. My model has a small light leak, or maybe some sort of lens flare, because you can see the strange white colouration in the photos. 

Focussing is done by extending the bellows according to a distance guide on the base plate, and exposure is set by choosing a shutter speed - 1/25th or 1/50th, and from an aperture scale of 1,2,3 or 4. These values equate to f/8, f/16, f/32 and f/64 - meaning that quite fast film can be used even outside, and a large depth-of-field achieved to aid in focussing.

pocket allotment

 Probably made between 1926 and 1932, I marvel that this vintage antique camera still works. I am even more amazed that it produces such sharp vibrant photographs. Once I've figured out where that fogging / flare is coming from, this camera will produce stunning images, all from something 90 years old. Absolutely astounding!

pocket scarecrow

So keep your eyes open for these 120 film Kodak Folders. One will teach you so much about the basics of photography, and it will truly delight you with the images you make.

Here's to Mr. Eastman!

Thanks, Rob.

Reader Comments (5)

Hi Rob,

Long time no see. Good to see you still up to tricks and collecting junk, oops sorry, 'classic' cameras, (Ha! My wife is still annoyed at all my 'classic' cameras filling up house space and 'junk' is just what she calls them).

How lucky to find an old 120 model and still hard to believe that after a 100 years or more you can still get 120 film where others fell into decline.

Looks like you have typical light leaks in the bellows, (the classic white spots and streaks), but can be easy or hard to fix depending on how you go about it.
Building replacement bellows is something I suggest people have at least one go at. You probably wouldn't be successful first time but boy does it give you an appreciation of the skill involved. There's many 'fixes' that people have tried over the years and black sealant seems to be a popular modern incarnation.
The one tried and tested method, (at least for small pinholes), I have used regularly is to simply 'paint' the light leaks with black acrylic paint you get from a typical art suppliers. A pocket torch and darkened room can be useful in locating such holes but I personally find firing a flash into the bellows whilst observing the corners of the bellows from the outside is far less strenuous on the eyes. Works for me :-)

Good to see you enjoying all aspects that photography can bring, including developing your own film amongst other things as well as hunting around those car boots for little gems like this!


All the best,

Victor

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hi Victor,

Great advice, thanks very much, I'll give your ideas a try.

You're right, i've got a big pile of old cameras now, but it's so much fun trying out these old pieces of kit and finding out they work (or not!).

Keep in touch dude, I'm going to be printing soon!

Cheers, Rob.

April 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

No1 Pocket Kodak....Made in Canada

For the life of me...I cannot slide it out...I have tried everything...I have tried pulling on that knob...Pressing the thing on the right....Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

May 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterS. Racine

Tricky. Take it to a camera shop and see if anyone there can help.

January 11, 2015 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

I just picked up one of these today from a car boot sale! After being made in 1921 the shutter still works like a dream and amazingly I have no light leaks in the bellows. I had a similar issue with not being able to extend the bellows. Chances are, it hasn't been extended in 20+ years, so all of the lubricant will have given way to light corrosion and the parts will seize up. Just keep wiggling the sliding lens mount with your finger holding the catch, and it should start to move eventually. Just be patient and try not to force it. Once it gets moving again I've found a light dab of bicycle grease keeps the runners lubricated enough to keep it going.

However... the only trouble with mine is that it takes 116 film. As this was discontinued in the 80's i'm not too sure on how to proceed. I've seen a few blogs that suggest adding a shim or spacer to a 120 roll to make it fit, but not sure. Has anyone got any tips?

June 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDan Jones

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