Story of an old camera. About how to get lucky without knowing, unexpected failures and light leaks…and some meaningless blabbering.
Nowadays, my house in inhabited in “perfect harmony” by psychadelic plush toys, ugly toys, new gadgets, stuff rescued from the trash (literally) and gadgets older than five or six decades. When my girlfriend told me she had seen a “very pretty” camera, I saw an open sky to add more plastic stuff to the “museum of pretty things” (which is how I call the shelf where I keep all my crap).
Thanks to this analog addiction to my life, I’ve gathered a small (as of now — and depending on how it is compared) photographic camera collection. Today, I’d like to talk to you about one of those little jewels around my house: the Kodak Tourist.
As the camera collection grew, I was stricken by curiosity for old cameras (vintage, for modern people). Looking around, I started to discover a whole universe of outdated cameras that, today, can still be dusted to look cool: twin lens reflex cameras, bellows cameras, dark boxes…
I got this camera at the same New York store where I got the Kodak Ektralite 10, and it wasn’t a very good purchase initially (what having no idea can cause). This camera is thought to use 620mm film, as is clearly stated on the inside of the back lid. What happens is that this format looks a lot like 120mm film (as many of you already know). And it can be said I wanted to take it with me, because the “nice” clerk didn’t want to let us examine it if we didn’t buy it, there was no way to make him understand it depended on the film format it used…in the end, to stop beating around the bush (and partly because of how much I wanted to take it), we paid it and left without confirming it could use 120mm film. When I arrived to Spain, I could verify that even if 120mm film is not compatible, it can be adapted (as explained by playmiguel in this article).
And after this drag (you can’t say you weren’t warned), I’ll move on to the camera. The first this about it is the film. If finding or developing 120mm rolls is hard (keep in mind Madrid and Barcelona are not the center of the universe), I don’t even need to tell you about finding 620mm. On the other hand, even though it is possible to adapt 120mm films like I’ve said, the lab may charge you extra for development, because of the special format it takes pictures on. From each 120mm film 8 pictures will come out, and the good thing is that we don´t have to be counting the spins of the advancing wheel, because the paper backing comes with a counter for this type of cameras. We can see this counter through the typical little red window on the back of the camera.
Today, I still think I haven’t figured out how to operate the mechanism (not the one to rewind film because it doesn’t have one — If I’m mistaken please tell me) to take exposed rolls out, because everytime I´m done with one, I have to take a screwdriver to open the camera and take it out… I believe that´s too absurd but I haven´t found any other way. On regards to this, I have to mention that they usually come with a metal take up spool, which you will have to remember to request to have it saved and returned by the lab, because it wouldn´t be strange that you don´t see it ever again (as it has happened to me). Also, the back can be completely removed, so I will have to try something with the Instant back (Dr. Frankestein, I guess)
As can be seen in the photograph, it´s a bellows camera, which means when it´s closed it´s much smaller than when open. This makes it confortable, and gives it a very aged look that will make people look at you in amazement every time you try to take a photo.
It has a universal tripod socket, as well as a little metal tab on the front in case we want to put it on a horizontal surface to take photos on its side.
With regards to the technical aspects, this is not a camera for low light conditions. The factors that determine this is that the aperture is not bigger than 12.5 and the lack of a newer more standarized flash plug.
According to the manual I managed to find online, it´s supposed to have three shooting modes: normal, little long exposures, and long. long exposures (what???). The normal mode lets the shutter open only for the preset time (unfortunately I can´t find the manual anymore and don´t know the shutter speed). The little long exposures mode leaves the shutter open as long as we are holding the shutter button. The long long exposure mode opens the shutter when we press the button and doesn´t close it until we push it again. My camera, unfortunately, took a few bumps and this last option doesn´t work anymore. On the other hand, one good thing about this camera is that it has a universal shutter cable plug.
As you can see, the camera has a few light leaks and lens defects. Which for me is a big plus.
Weighing up, one of the best purchases I´ve made, even if only 10 shots came out of the 2 rolls I shot!
- Film format: 620mm (although it accepts modified 120mm)
- Size: Slightly larger than the Diana F+ (measurement recorded by the Utah Institute of Weights and Measurements)
- Three shutter speeds: I (the normal mode but I don´t know what it is), B (opens the shutter as long as it´s pressed) and T (opens the shutter when pressed and doesn´t close it until pressed again)
- Aperture: Gradual from f/32 to f/12.5
- Fixed focal distance (which I guess is from 1 meter to infinity)
- Rectangular frame format: 56 mm × 84 mm
- PC Flash sync socket
- Shutter cable plug
- Universal tripod socket
- Minitripod for photos with the camera on its side.