Experience with a Kodak 3A

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Oct 24, 2008.

  1. I was tempted by sheer curiosity when I placed a modest bid on this camera. Well, lucky me, I won and now I am holding it in my hands. I was shocked to see its size as the pictures give you a false indication of scale. Folded, it looks like a mini suit case.
    My first impression is that this camera looks like a cross between a box and a folder. The body seems to be made of wood panels dressed in leatherette, and the bellows appear to be high quality leather bellows. This bellows came in maroon red or black with the earlier fetching higher prices. My 3a seems to be the budget version as it came with a meniscus lens and black bellows.
    The door in the back opens like a hatch with hinges in the bottom. The front standard is exposed by pressing a button on the top. The front standard is then slid through the rack until it locks in the infinity position. A mirror box along it's side on the left aids in composing your frames. Simple, really.
    The shutter was problematic in mine which was definitely a surprise as it was the first time I acutally saw a malfunctioning EKC ball bearing shutter. When I showed it to my repair man he said that it was beyond repair. He had a folding autographic Kodak 3a with a healthy shutter and a nice kodak anastigmat lens but poor bellows. So, needless to say I ended up swapping the front standard and lens. The focusing scale was also a match so I was detemined to use the beast which enters its 100th birthday in 2009.
    Inside the camera had a roll of exposed 122 film, a verichrome pan which I am yet to process once I figure out how. Both spools were in place. The 122 film is the largest roll film I have ever seen with a width of 10cm(120 is only 6.2cm). I removed the film from its backing paper and put it in a light proof bag. I had a 220 roll of expired Portra 400VC from 2002. I rolled it into the 122 roll with its backing paper after 3 failed attempts as the darn film wouldn't sit straight, but at the end I managed, somehow. I made a mask from a black plastic folder and was good to go. Maybe Minh will have mercy on me an make a 120 adapter for this beast. Here is the camera and some results:
    Lilly Pond at BBG

    1/100s, f/32 on Kodak Portra 400VC
    Japanese Garden at BBG
    1/100s, f/22 on Kodak Portra 400VC
    The Stone Bridge
    1/100s, f/22 on Kodak Portra 400VC
  2. Very nice, Ralf. The photos are beautiful. I am always amazed at the quality of the photos produced from these old
    cameras, but then, a camera is just a light tight box to keep the dark in until we activate the shutter and this one really looks
    like a big box! If you showed someone off the street these colour photos, they would never know that they were taken with a
    100 year old camera.
  3. Very nice results. Here's another old Kodak. CLICK
  4. And don't forget to show us how the exposed film turned out. There are a bunch of weirdos on this site who love to see "Found Films" (me included).
  5. Great results. That was a neat idea to use the original backing paper, which solves the frame advance
  6. Stu thanks for the compliments, it was fun shooting with it, but getting it ready for a shoot, will make me think twice
    next time...<p>
    Luis -thanks for the "wow" :)
    Gene - you and Mike Connealy were the inspiration behind me going out and getting this unit after seeing your work
    with them. I know Mike's has a Rapid Rectilinear I think, what lens did yours come with? A kodak anastigmat?<p>

    Yan - thanks for the comments. I am still trying to figure out where to develop, as I have no daylight tank for it.
    Maybe will need to darken a room at night and attempt to do it on a flat aluminum pan, still thinking.

    Mike - the backing paper was a g-dsend, however I do not think it will hold up for much longer as I already see signs
    of tearing. Will probably need to improvise by gluing 2 regular 120 backing papers at some point when this one goes.
    Thanks for the comments.
  7. Very impressive photos Ralf. Congratulations.
  8. I agree with Luis...WOW! I'm amazed at the quality of these shots, which are great shots by any measure, but even more amazing considering they came from the Kodak. That's a really nice looking camera, too. Using old folders is something I'd like to do sometime soon, but it seems a bit daunting to me and above my skill level and besides, the bellows on most of mine are in need of repair. Very nice job with all of these, Ralf.
  9. That's a 3A Brownie or Hawkeye. The 3A Folding Pocket Kodaks are even mightier beasts. Some come with mighty fine lenses.
  10. My 1-A came with the Rapid Rectilinear. The No. 2 Autographic originally had a meniscus lens which I replaced with an RR. I always wondered, though, how the original meniscus would perform, and I finally bought a No. 2, Model B with the single meniscus behind the shutter, which I think is similar to the one on Gene's camera. I was surprised that the single-element lens actually made quite nice images with little of the softness or distortion that one might expect. I also have a No.2 Folding Hawk- Eye Special with the Anastigmat lens, and it yields really excellent results.
  11. Here's another wow! Very clever idea about rewinding the 220 film onto the spool with the backing paper. Hmmmm..... Here's my Kodak Folding Brownie No 3 Mod A. Maybe I can..
  12. Inspiration is the highest compliment. Thank you.
  13. I had a Kodak Premo with red bellows. Smaller than these and quite cute. Bad shutter, though. To experiment with the old folders, I custom cut sheet film, back it with balc paper, cover the frame counter opening with electrical tape and shoot a single frame. Or I substitute photo paper, (about ASA 6 to 15 effective speed for exposure computations) then I scan the "negative," finally invert (and reverse left to right) the image in photoshop. Color slide paper will yield a correct color but backwards-facing image. -Ed
  14. Very cool. I picked up a 3A Special (model A) some time ago on a whim. I think converting it to 120 will be my winter project. It is very inspirational to see a camera with the last listed patent date of 1902 in a functional condition as it is.

    My shutter and focussing track is oriented the other way ("portrait") - not sure if that makes mine a "Kodak Pocket Folding Camera" vs. a Brownie or Brownie Hawkeye or not. My particular Special does say "Made in Rochester", but it has a Bausch & Lomb shutter and a "Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat" lens (after some reading I believe Zeiss licensed the Tessar design to Kodak, and this lens was produced by Kodak, but the agreement prevented them from actually calling it a Tessar - could be wrong on this).

    The leatherette (or whatever it is) covering on the bellow is falling off in places, but the underlying cloth bellows seems to be intact with a flashlight test, anyway. I'm definitely looking forward to shooting 6x14 - I picked up one of Minh's Polaroid 110A 6x12 conversions a while back as well, and although I've only put a couple of rolls through it, a neg of those dimensions still has the "wow" factor :)
  15. Ralf

    So beautiful pictures from a 100 years old camera. I'm always surprised looking at the slides from Kodak E200, I don't need a 10x loup to see the beauty of the pictures, so real . Try it and you'll see it

    Thanks for sharing Ralf and Glenn. I have some one size fit all 122 roll film kits that just take minutes to convert a 3A pocket folders or Brwonies and some Anscos which use 122 roll film to 120 roll film (but some need the red window to be relocated). I do not think that will destroy the cameras, but that'll revive the cameras after decades sitting blind, make them see the world with the newer film. Let me write down the instruction " How to..."

  16. John - this specimen is indeed a Brownie.<p>

    Craig - thanks for the kind words.<p>

    Andy - try the folders and the TLRS, you won't be disappointed. You may need to invest in a flatbed scanner, something like an EPSON that will do medium format film and large format up to 4x5. Drug stores won't be able to process this stuff, unless you have a pro shop somewhere near you. Scanning is very easy with the Epson line, especially if SilverFast is included. Thanks.<p>

    JDM - that's a beauty, is that a wooden front standard, orignal? It looks like your bellows are gone though, pity.<p>

    Ed - that's a neat Premo, what shutter do you have on it now? Is that an RR lens I see?

    Good buy Glenn, the B&L optics are first rate. Show us the fruits of your work when you are through. Thanks<p>

    Minh - thank you for the compliments. As I mentioned above, I was struggling trying to sandwich 120/220 film in the backing paper, and was definitely thinking that I could use one of your ingenious adapters. Regards
  17. Ralf,

    Sorry late chiming in here.. but really incredible shots. I really love the first one. I see what you mean about
    "suitcase" The uncoated lens performed great! I was holding on to 120 backing-paper thinking I might want it for
    masks in the scanner.... but finally tossed it! Mmmhh where to get some kind of back-paper that could be adapted?!?
    You're pretty inventive... Good Luck!!
  18. Yes, I think the wooden front is original, and I think (don't KNOW since I haven't yet tried to run any 120 film through it) that the bellows are a little ratty at the corners, but are still good. They look light tight when I look from the back. I got it as a part of a box of cameras for about a buck apiece on eBay. The others were a Mercury II (non functional), Jiffy 620, and a Falcon (broken and taped back plate, but otherwise seems to be OK - sort of like an even cheaper Argus A).
  19. really nice looking camera, and great shots from it! I must have one!!!
  20. I have a very nice 3A Model A . I think it has a Rapid Rectilinear lens. I have a few rolls of VP122 which I will eventually put through it, but I need some method of processing the stuff. I would rather use a tank than a tray, I don't have a darkroom, and I can't do trays in a changing bag (LOL). I did run a roll of 120 Delta 100 through it, the lens is quite sharp. I may try some Fuji Previa 100 next.
  21. I took a unicolor 120/220 reel and added a piece of 1/2 inch PVC in the middle and made a nice reel for 122 film. It worked! Now all I need is a scanner to scan the negatives. I have a few rolls of VP122 from what was probably the last run of 122 made in 1970. I have saved the backing paper and will get a roll of Plux-X aerographic film and slit it to size. ( what a lot of effort for six exposures on a roll!) This is so much more fun than my Nikon D80. :)
  22. Good going Michael. Can you post results when you are able to? It would be appreciated. Can you also a pic of your reel rig? Thanks
    I've got one of the 3A folders, but mine has some oddball stuff that I've not seen on another example. There appears to be some sort of rangefinder thing built in just under the lens, with a spring loaded piece that slides in and out...now I've had several rangefinder cameras, a leica that I got for 5 bucks at a rummage sale at a church when I was 8 years old (kids shouldn't find such things, it suffered and died most ungracefully), and some russian copies...but this thing doesn't seem to work the same way? I know most of the folding brownies are focused via the little chart with a pointer that gives approximate focus distance...

    ...I initially bought it just for the lens. I was going to finally build a 4x5, but for some reason I cannot bring myself to tear it up just for the lens...the bellows and lack of film are all that is keeping me from using this antiquated piece of history as-is. (sigh)

    I'm extremely interested in finding some method of cutting down some film to use as intended...albeit without being able to use the autographic feature, unless someone comes up with a way of doing that too?

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