Despite all the money I've spent on all my cameras, the one I inherited has proven to be my favourite. Take a look at one of Kodak's last folding cameras. Produced between 1958 and 1960, this oldie has produced remarkably reliable and incredibly crisp photos. Plus it looks awesome.
When my curiosity was first piqued in analogue cameras I was completely skint. So no money meant I had to find another way to test out this new interest. Knowing that my nan has always loved taking pictures (almost exclusively of cats) and that my granddad is a hoarder, I hoped that between them there was a camera knocking about.
As I ruffled through the plastic bag of alien camera paraphernalia, I wondered what on earth I’d been given. A flash that fanned out, surrounding the bulb; a brown leather case complete with poppers and a strap that looked as if it would snap any second and, upon opening the camera, a space that looked far too big for any film I’d ever seen. Assuming that anything other than 35mm film was either impossible or extremely difficult to source I set the camera aside and saved for a Diana Mini.
Diana Mini in hand, I learnt more about the analogue revolution. I learnt that 120 film wasn’t difficult to source, at least not in London, and set about learning what this camera could do.
This camera is no doubt old – my nan thinks she had it in her twenties and she’s now eighty – so I was expecting fuzzy focus, light leak and, strange colours, but what I got was completely different. In fact, the only camera I’ve ever used that produces similar results is the Lubitel 166B. It has shallow depth of field, incredibly accurate focusing – considering there’s no way to test it in the viewfinder – and looks that elicit comments such as ‘what the hell have you got there?’ (I’ve been stopped by curious passer-bys when I’ve been using this camera more than with any other).
This is one of the last folding cameras produced by Kodak and one of the few they decided to make for 120 film instead of 620, something that soon becomes apparent when you trawl through the camera stall of London’s markets on a regular basis (I recommend Portobello Road market).
So for the specs. Neatly etched around the lens are the words ‘75mm Kodak Anaston lens f/4.5’. The shutter name ‘Velio’ curves underneath the lens. The cable release bought for my Diana F+ screws in perfectly.
The whirring of the shutter and the calm methodical way the camera needs to be set is satisfying, but not brilliant for opportunistic or action shots. At first I thought it was impossible to produce double exposures, as once the shutter has closed a tiny piece of metal pops out and the camera won’t take another picture until it has been wound on, which makes the camera draw this metal piece back. But, just pushing this metal back in with my nails means the camera lets me take multiple shots.
This is my favourite camera, not just because it feels pretty special taking pictures on something my nan used at my age, but because it has produced some of my favourite shots.