Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Kodak Instamatic Turned 50 in March

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I read this morning that the Kodak Instamatic camera was first introduced in March, 1963. That's about seventeen months before I was introduced to the market (being born in December, 1964). My first camera ever was a Kodak Instamatic, which hardly distinguishes me - Kodak sold 50 million of them!
There's an interesting post about the Instamatic, a camera designed to be easy to use at the cost of image size, lens quality, and just about everything else, on The Online Photographer blog. But, easy to use it was! The 126 cartridge film and flash cube were truly foolproof. You had to intentionally bust open a cartridge (or remove it mid-roll) to accidentally expose your film.
(Click Here) to read about the Instamatic and chief designer, Hubert Nerwin (a post-war transplant from Carl Zeiss in Germany) on The Online Photographer. In this article, the author Mike makes the case that the Instamatic gave Kodak the misplaced confidence to bring out other compromised products, including the Disc Camera and APS systems.
As I remember it, the APS was really kind of cool. Most APS cameras could rewind your film mid-roll, and remember where they were, automatically getting you back to the correct frame when reinserted in the camera. That was pretty advanced for the time. I would like that feature on my 35mm cameras.
I also think Mike left out the most compromising development in cheap cameras, the 110 film cartridge. Truly a miniscule negative, you were beat before you ever started if you wanted to take a quality image with 110. Yes, I know the Pentax Auto 110 was a cool little camera outfit. It was like if Panasonic produced a system camera based on a 640x640 pixel tiny sensor, rather than Micro 4/3.
And, amazingly, 110 film is back! At least it's in the right hands now, those of people who understand and even enjoy its limitations. Yes, I mean the Holga / Diana crowd, where medium format cameras with light leaks are welcomed, for example. I really like this crowd - as I often say, constraints (or limitations) can sometimes drive creativity, and I think the toy camera user groups are often creative.
Want to know more about 110 film, where to get it, and how to get it processed?
(Click Here) to read about it at the Film Photography Project (FPP). This article should get you started. They sell 110 film in the FPP store. Or, see my link below to buy it at Amazon.