Kodak No. 3A (Model B-5)

"Street Photography Meet Up" by Sibokk
“Kodak No. 3 A (Model B-5)”, a photo by Sibokk on Flickr.

I can’t believe I haven’t bloggered about this camera and the others of its kind. I got them a few months ago but I’ve been experimenting and shooting so many different things I guess I lost track.

This is a Kodak No. 3A (Model B-5). It’s a beast. It takes humongous 122 film which is almost (but not quite) double that of 120, in fact I’ve even laid 5×4 sheets into this camera.

It came with a large array of other Kodak cameras (pictured below) and one Zeiss Ikon Nettar which I sold on to Aware of the Void because I already had a 120 zone-focus Zeiss Ikon Nettar, albeit a different model.

This camera was first released between 1914 and 1937 and as I said takes/took 122 film (production ceased maybe in the 70s or 80s) but it could also take 5×4 sheets with a different back. Me, being me, just taped a single sheet on the inside backplane.

Here’s a 120 roll next to a 122 roll

Of course when using 120 film you have to make a few adjustments.
First you need to black out the red film counter window on the rear or you’ll ruin your film.

Secondly you will need to engineer stilts for the 120 roll since they are so small. I managed to loose the giant giant wooden 122 spool not long after I photographed it so both 120 rolls need to have stilts which is very tricky. I had to keep taking the roll into a dark bag to realign them.

Since this is an Autographic camera it has a little window on the rear that peeks onto the backing paper. This was so you could write onto the paper backing with the provided metal scribe which would then mark the film. Neat idea.

Of course this increases the chance of light leaks and if you open the flap in direct sunlight lines will be burnt onto the film.

Focusing is done by setting the marker to the distance of your subject (illustrated below) then pulling the front standard out to meet it. This camera also had rise and fall both in portrait and landscape orientation.

I must confess I’ve not yet applied much brain power to figure out why we have rise and fall other than to move the image while the camera is nailed to the spot on a tripod. I’m sure I’ll use-a-search-engine to find out (I refuse to say ‘google it’ even though I just did).

My first shot was a self portrait with flash on a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 Plus (cross processed as I only have c41 at home). It produced a wonderfully long frame.

The second was a similar idea also with flash because it was late and the film was quite slow.

This third shot was a little of the cuff and again using flash but since the whole roll was purely for test purposes that’s OK I guess. I thought I’d shot all the frames I could but there was room for one more so 4 frames in total.

That’s a bit tall isn’t it?

Anyway, I wasn’t finished yet. I saw the vast flat blank space inside the back plate of the camera and decided to stick a sheet of film onto it and see what I’d get.

My ID11 developer was almost dead at the time so this negative won the ‘Simple Simon’ award for the thinnest negative of all time. I thought it was a bust until I waved it over a dark corner of the room and saw a slight image on the film. I popped it into the scanner and managed to get something.

With no one around at the time it’s another photo of me using Fomapan 200.

This one developed in stock Ilford Microphen, also Fomapan 200. I obviously need to double up the tape on that red window.

I’m still very keen to experiment with this camera.
It’s a beauty and it’s also why I love photography and why I #BelieveInFilm.


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