Family Camera

One of the main cameras used through the decades of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s on my Dad’s side of the family. My grandfather later bought a giant Polaroid. He seemed to be one of the few to operate it, as he’s not in most of the pictures. An earlier family camera was the beautiful Kodak Bullet.

This is a Kodak Duoflex (1947-50). At first glance, it looks like a simple box or TLR camera. It’s actually a pseudo TLR (a modified box camera with a separate viewing mirror above the taking lens). Just like a box camera, you look down through a double-convex lens onto a mirror. (A TLR would have a matte focusing screen looking onto a mirror, through a viewing lens above the taking lens. The viewing lens would focus in parallel with the taking lens.) But this 620 camera has some unusual features for a snapshot camera.

  • Tiplet lens
  • adjustable f-stop from f8 to f16
  • focusable lens from 3.5 feet to infinity, with distance markings
  • automatic double-exposure prevention
  • double-exposure override
  • instant or bulb shutter speeds
  • aluminum body
  • attachable flashbulb bracket and reflector

The design is also quite beautiful. There are hints of art deco in the vertical ridges that run from the top onto the face, continuing to the bottom of the box. The ridges are continued on its plastic strap, making it appear continuous from bottom of camera to the neck. The top and bottom of the face are beautifully sloped. It reminds you of a late 40’s Hudson.

You can tell from the design, both aesthetically and technically, that Kodak was delivering a stylish camera to the post war consumers who wanted more control over their photography, but weren’t ready to spend a lot.

I cleaned up the camera and reassembled it. I shot one roll through it, but I must have misadjusted the focus scale on the lens. I’ll reset that, and maybe replace the pocked mirror before I take it back out.

Shot with a Nikon F2, Micro-Nikkor 105mm/f2.8, F Bellows, Kodak Portra 400

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3 thoughts on “Family Camera

  1. Victor Bezrukov, photographer

    it was my first camera that i purchased something like 6 years ago with idea to start learning in film photog. i exposed only one roll and decided to go to Holga and after this to something more interesting optically. 620 spools is also a big headache – always to care about to move the new film to the old 620 spools

    Reply
    1. kestersonn Post author

      Something I’ve experienced over the years is resurrecting old cameras that were for family snaps can be unsatisfying if you want something really different. Sometimes the lenses are too “good” for art and too “bad” for serious work. They usually become shelf queens that are usually just admired for their design or place in camera history.

      Reply

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