Kodak Signet 35 in California

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jason_withers, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. This past may, my partner and I took a long overdue trip to California and visited Yosemite, as well as the Bristlecone Pine Forest in Bishop. For the trip, I wanted to take along a camera that was fairly light weight, portable and would also easily fit into a jacket pocket and not be burdensome to carry on day hikes. I also did not want to have to fool around with multiple lenses or batteries. My Signet 35 camera fit the bill perfectly!

    For those that may not be familiar with this camera, it's pretty small for a 35mm rangefinder, and only has 4 shutter speeds (25, 50, 100, and 300), but it does have a nice 44mm f/3.5 Ektar lens. Since the camera is all mechanical, without a light meter, I also carried my trusty G.E. PR-1 exposure meter. I brought along a couple rolls of Fomapan R100 film, a yellow filter, and a lens hood. I unfortunately didn't research in advance where to develop the Fomapan film once I finished the rolls, but I came across a guy in Iowa (dr5.us) online who takes traditional rolls of B&W negative film and runs them through a reversal process he created to get B&W slides. Of course, Fomapan R is already a reversal film, but I thought the results came out well through his processing. A few shots from the Bristlecone Pine Forest are below. I hope you enjoy!












  2. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Great job, Jason--hints of Ansel Adams. Fine results from the Signet, film, and processing, and nice clean scans too.

    Have always wanted to try R100, but never got around to it.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  3. Thanks Dave! Yeah, I was pleased with how the processing turned out. The film has an interesting look and I think it worked well with the arid landscape of the White Mountains.
  4. Great work with the Signet, Jason, and the processing of the Fomapan certainly produced dramatic images.The little Ektar lens really is a gem. Thanks for posting!
    jason_withers likes this.
  5. Not my take on it. It may be small, but it's bulky and awkward to use.

    Of course my mother was scared by a Signet 35 while I was in the womb, so this is just about the only camera I've actively disliked.

    I'll have to say congratulations on great pictures, regardless. For sure, its problems are not with the quality of the lens.
    jason_withers likes this.
  6. Well, every camera has some limitations. The viewfinder on this particular model is fairly small, but it’s useable and the rangefinder works wells. Having to manually cock the shutter for each exposure does slow the camera down a bit. I’d sometimes forget to set it before taking the picture, but a minor inconvenience.

    I wouldn’t say that this model would be the best camera for fast critical work, but it’s a durable, pocketable camera. It’s well made to boot. When I bought the camera, the viewfinder was pretty dim, but expected after 60+ years. I had it cleaned and it vastly improved its usability. I think it’s a fun camera to use :)
  7. Great work, Jason. I had a great aunt who had a Signet 35 and took hundreds of Kodachrome slides when she and my great uncle worked for Hershey's (he managed a sugar cane plantation in pre-Castro Cuba). She also photographed the annual Camp Meeting in Ackerman, Mississippi every July, I inherited a couple of trays of slides from those camp meetings. I don't know who ended up with her camera, but it was still working when she passed away,
    jason_withers likes this.
  8. Jason, those are lovely shots, that Ektar certainly lives up to its reputation.

    While I am an unabashed Kodak fanboy, I have to agree with the sentiment offered by JDM (perhaps we can offer him a Combat Graphic to soothe his woes?)

    The Signet 35 is a camera I have never had confidence in. I've owned one for years, and CLA'd the shutter on multiple occasions and replaced springs, but each and every time I take this camera out, the shutter fails on me.

    I tend to think its a problem inherent to the design, as the shutter only has two blades, which means a lot of overlapping surface area and if any dirt or oil gets on the shutter blades, it hangs up. Clearly this is not true of all examples, as your photos and those of others illustrate that they are capable of excellent images.

    It's a camera I really want to like. It's quite small and yet has easily accessible controls. However, when you can't be certain that every shot on your roll will be ruined, it makes you not want to use that camera.
    jason_withers likes this.
  9. Thanks Mike and Hunter.

    Mike, that’s great that you inherited some of your great aunt’s slides that she took with the camera. I imagine the colors on the Kodachromes still look great after all these years!

    Hunter, my Kodak Signet 35 certainly wasn’t perfect when it arrived to me. The viewfinder was very dirty and the shutter wouldn’t reliably fire at all speeds. A service tag inside indicated that it was last serviced by Kodak many decades ago. I knew I wanted to use it and didn’t want to have to worry about the shutter failing, but I didn’t want to try fooling with it myself. So, I sent it off to Camera Works in Latham, NY and they CLAd it and I believe may have ultrasonically cleaned some of the pivot points and shutter to make sure it fired reliably. I later bought another Signet 35 (later version with the x-sync flash) and the shutter works on all speeds and didn’t require any repair work, so I’ve been using that one as well.

    I too am a big Kodak camera fan. All the models I have are interesting, if not quirky! But, I just don’t get excited when using other film camera variants by Canon or Nikon the way I do when I use one my Kodaks. I have a Nikon F2 and FE that a friend gifted to me, but they do absolutely nothing for me, so I don’t use them.
  10. Superb crisp photos. Not a fan of Signets, but your photography is amazing. Very impressive landscape
  11. Thanks Ralf! I do like the results of this dr5 processing, and I would use it again. I may try some of the T-max films next time and see how those turns out.
  12. Wow... I want one.. but like everything YMMV. Incredible results. This film is a reversal film eh? I've always liked the idea, but while reading the way to make a regular film become a reversal the idea of exposing the wet film to a light source etc ..sounded too tricky .

    Kudos !"!" Excellent
  13. Thanks Chuck! Yeah, Fomapan R is already a reversal film, but I had the guy at dr5 chrome run it through his usual process (which turns negative film into a positive) as I was curious what the results would look like and I had difficulty finding anyone here in the states that would process b&w slide film. I think the yellow filter helped darken the coloring of the deep blue skies that day since we were at a high altitude.
  14. Well I guess he had to alter it somewhat ..ie use the second-half of the process only as it was already at one stage? Regardless.. very impressive

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