Kodak Photo Hobby Printer

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by henry_finley|1, Oct 31, 2021.

  1. Attached are a couple photos of the Kodak Photo Hobby Printer, which was supposedly sold for beginner use back in the 40's or 50's. As I look at it, it's laughable. But maybe somebody else knows something I don't know. One light bulb at one end of the box. And while this one seems to be missing its glass, I happen to know they were sold with clear glass, not opal or frosted. I also suppose the printer was meant to be used with something like Velox paper, which was a slow chloride paper discontinued many years ago. But even with that, it seems like there would had had to be a terrible hot-spot in the print. No evenness in lighting at all. I'd like to hear other opinions. Is this a piece of junk that Kodak should have known better than to even market at all?

    hobby printer.jpg

    hobby printer 2.jpg
  2. Can't see any reason why it wouldn't produce reasonable contact prints provided a frosted bulb was always used and the paper was hard down against the negative which seemed to be achieved when the lid's tab/handle was pressed down on the light switch, the whole lid also pressing down at the same time. The exposure time was probably predetermined by the recommended paper and for a normal density neg, or just do test strips. It looks to be 10x8, so four 35mm neg strips would be no trouble I'd say, but the lid looks a bit bent, that could present problems perhaps. It would be ideal for post card size contact prints, or even larger, 4x5, 5x7, etc
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I bought a complete darkroom at around 12 years old and an updated version of this printer came with it. It was much better made than your example It had a crackle gray finish,the corners were all rounded, and the door on top was hinged and padded with rubber. My recollection is that it had frosted glass. I cannot recall the paper used, the negatives were large, so contact prints were usable. I also got a Yankee enlarger with the darkroom which immediately captured my interest, and I soon had access to a 35mm camera so it sat on a bottom shelf. 1955 or 1956.
  4. AJG


    Some tracing paper under the glass and a lower wattage frosted bulb would probably make it useable with faster modern papers if you're so inclined.
  5. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The first photo makes it look like the bulb is very close to, almost touching the glass. The second photo shows that the unit is much taller and the bulb would be much further down from the glass. The white interior would help disperse the bulb glow more evenly, Comparing the red lid to the size of the hand on the front of the unit makes it look like it would take 620/120 film.
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The one I had was 4x5 with no mask if memory serves.
  7. When I was 10 years old, photography and film developing, and printing was pure magic. I got one of these Kodak contract print box, photo paper plus hard-rubber trays and in the closet, did the deed.

    I became quite proficient and went on to do this stuff for my career. Built a reconnaissance lab for the US Air Force in Korea in the 1950’s. Built 7 giant regional labs for photofinishing, each sized to do 20,000 rolls of black and white and color film a day.

    Installed about 200 mini-labs in a drugstore chain. Hired by mini-lab manufacture, retired after more than 55 years in a successful and satisfying career.

    It all started with a simple contact printer that worked just fine.
  8. I wonder what the maximum size film is on an Ansco Dark Room Light Box Model 110?
  9. That sounds about like the one I got in 1967, from a Goodwill store. Except that the top was padded with felt, instead of rubber. Also, there were springy metal strips to hold each half (well, not quite half as the hinge wasn't centered) down. It had clear glass, no red light, and a 10W bulb. The smaller bulb would have the top not so close to the paper. Also, it was a clear bulb, though maybe not the original. The white inside the box means that light goes all directions, which I suspect mostly removes any hot spot. I don't remember a hot spot, anyway. It also came with a red Kodak Brownie safelight, at the time when they came with yellow and green filters. I believe that dates it to before 1956, when VP replaced Verichrome. Also, a 4 ounce measuring device. (I still have the safelight and measuring device.)

    As with Sandy, it was not so long until I got an enlarger (Christmas present), except Vivitar and not Yankee. (But my tank and trays were Yankee. I still have the trays.)
  10. Reminds me, a few years ago I saw another Kodak contact printer in a Goodwill store. Wooden, much bigger than the one described, and with four 150W bulbs. Probably belongs in a museum, but I didn't buy it. As well as I know it, in the early days contact prints were done with "printing out", and no developer. That would take a lot of light. (Or a sunny day.)

    If I want to do contact prints now, (using enlarging paper) I put the paper, negative, and sheet of glass on the enlarger easel. (Or where it would go.)
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  11. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Somewhere in my collection of photo books I recall an article about printing out in sunlight using a special wood and glass frame, haven't an idea which book it might be in or what media, but the recollection is clear.
  12. It was called Kodak Studio Proof paper, which was discontinued in the late 70's if I recall. Too bad. I had previously used some and liked it.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  13. So you can make proofs that will fade away after a while?
  14. And it seems produced by Foma until 2006. According to this one:

    Printing Out Paper

    the difference is excess silver nitrate. So, all you need to do is dip ordinary paper in
    a silver nitrate solution for some minutes, then let dry.
  15. A company called 'Johnson's' made a contact printing frame with only clear glass in it. It was my first venture into photographic printing and it worked fine when exposed under a normal room ceiling light, or in sunlight when exposing printing-out-paper.

    The use of, or lack of, frosted glass will make little difference to light fall off when placed close to the negative. Light from the bulb will be subject to inverse-square-law falloff between the centre of the neg and its corners. Moderated somewhat by the size of the opal bulb envelope and the white reflector box surrounding it.

    The falloff could well be an issue with 5x4 or larger negatives, but a 120 6x6 or 6x9cm negative should show pretty minimal corner fading.

    It also has to be remembered that the Cos^4 falloff of any camera lens results in the corners of negatives being less well exposed than the centre. This effect is practically equal and opposite to enlarger or contact-printer vignetting.
  16. As long as you are printing negatives, and not positives (slides).

    Also, for the contact printer, you want the negative in the center.
  17. This one:

    Contact Printers -- More memories of a misspent youth

    shows the contact printer that I didn't have, but at the time liked more. Maybe it was the modern plastic,
    instead of antique metal box. But now that I could get one for a low price, I am not so interested.
    (Even though I already have too many cameras that I also got for a low price.)

    It seems that ones uses two light bulbs to equalize intensity on one axis.
    (The red one in the middle is missing.)

    The thread also has more pictures of old contact printers.
  18. The best discussion I know of about printing out papers is the discussion in the Life Library of Photography volume "Caring for Photographs"

    Of modern films, only Polaroid Polapan 52 provided the tonal range of the the POP; but it, too, alas, is gone.
  19. Then there's the Gum-Bichromate process that can also be used for daylight contact-printing.

    This needs only a solution of gum Arabic, Potassium b(d)ichromate, a sheet of plain paper and some ink or powder pigment of your choice. Plus hot water for development - no fixer. However the image is quite faint and needs a longer/brighter exposure than POP.

    I tried the Gum-Bichromate process when I was about 10, and later at secondary school as an art project. Interesting, but results aren't a patch on a decent silver-gelatine print.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021

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