Kodak Star, 60 and S30 – One City, One Film, Three 110 Cameras

I was given my first camera when I was seven. My grandfather’s Box Brownie. Ever since then, and I’m seventy now, I’ve collected Kodak cameras. The second one, which I bought myself, was an Instamatic 100 which took the 126 square format film cartridge. In the mid seventies when I was a hard-up student Kodak released the 110 format Pocket Instamatic and how I lusted after one. Especially the Model 60 which at release, according to kodak.3106.net, cost $128. Way out of my range. Since then I’ve acquired many versions including the 60 and it occurred to me recently that I hadn’t actually put a film through the majority of them. So was born an idea.

With a brief holiday coming up the title arrived first: One City, One Film, Three Cameras. The city, Chartres in central France. The film, Lomography 110 Tiger 200 ISO. The cameras, the 60, a cute little S30 and a very basic Kodak Star. Eight frames each, how difficult could that be? And then I encountered the first problem. The 60 takes a weird-shaped battery called the type K or 7K31. Apparently this battery hasn’t been made for 25 years. An ingenious eBay seller has made a 3D-printed reusable adapter that takes three LR43s. I thought, I can do that, and mine only has to work once. After many iterations I produced this

3d printed K-type batter housing

It’s a bit rough but it does the job. Cameras two and three are basically point and shoot so no problems there.

I shot eight frames each day and changed the cartridge to the next camera in a dark room. Once home again I sent the film off for developing and scanning. My thinking here was that I could use the scans to print selected photographs myself. Despite being warned that they would be 8-bit only I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of the scans, of which there were only 23.

Technical sidebar: Looking at the data buried in the scans I saw that they were taken with NOVATEK CAMERA 96660, the only search for which threw up a dash-cam. Novatek is apparently the chip-set used in a lot of action and dash-cams, often using the Sony IMZ078 sensor. The exposures were all around 1/5s at a fixed f/1.8 and ISO50. The sizes varied slightly but were all around 6.3 megapixels. I think it’s safe to say that these negatives were not so much scanned as photographed.

The 60, produced from 1972 to 1976, has a 26mm, f/2.7 Ektar lens focussing with a coupled rangefinder and fully automatic exposure with shutter speeds from 10s to 1/250s. It’s well-featured with a cable release socket and a tripod bush. It has a Magicube socket for mechanically activated flash-cubes The viewfinder in mine is quite fogged and the rangefinder is out at infinity. It was made in America. Ergonomically it is quite heavy and the shutter release needs a good push. There is a warning light in the viewfinder for under-exposure, the double image rangefinder, a shutter lock and a microscopic battery check button, these details indicating production after August 1973.

Kodak Pocket Instamatic 60

Here are some of the pictures taken by the Pocket Instamatic 60

Église catholique Saint-Aignan, Chartres
The Church of Saint Aignan, Chartres
The Chateau at Maintenon, Eure et Loir
The Chateau Maintenon, Eure-et-Loir
a red door Chartres
A street sculpture in Chartres
Place de la Hotel de Ville, Chartres

The S30, which was only produced between 1976 and 1978 has a 25mm, f/5.6 Reomar lens (50mm equivalent) and a two speed shutter of 1/40s and 1/80s though it’s not clear to me how they would be selected. The aperture is adjustable with a slider and weather pictograms. I love the way the viewfinder telescopes into the body like a Minox but Kodak missed out on having the action coupled to the film-advance meaning a number of potential shots missed due to not cocking the shutter. It has a hot-shoe flash bracket on one end. It was made in Germany.

Kodak Pocket Instamatic S30

Here are some pictures taken by the S30

Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Railway Station
Chartres Railway Station
Maison Picassiette, Chartres
Maison Picassiette, Chartres

The Star is the most recent camera, dating from around 1985 and has the least promising specification with a fixed 22mm, f/11 Meniscus lens but it does have three shutter speeds as it incorporates the later film-speed sensing lever in the film compartment. It has a socket for Flip-Flash bars and a steadying handle that doubles as a case. It was also made in Germany, contradicting Brian Coe in ‘Kodak Cameras’ who asserts the US and Brazil.

Three different cameras, three different flash attachments. I remember dropping a Magicube in a crowded pub one time and the resulting multiple flash was quite dramatic.

Kodak Star 110

Here are some pictures taken by the Star 110

Rue des Changes, Chartres
Rue des Changes, Chartres
Street sculpture in Chartres
More of those sculptures
Place des Halles, Chartres
Place des Halles, Chartres
Museé Ateliers des Pionniers, Gallardon
Museé Ateliers des Pionniers, Gallardon

Let’s be honest, these aren’t great photographs. When I shot 110 film regularly I exclusively used Kodachrome slide film and even had the cute little projector that was available at the time and I don’t remember the grain being so prominent or the colour rendering so poor. Initially there were only 100ASA films available in 110 format so in the case of the 60 and S30 the 200ASA film I used will have been overexposed which may be a contributory factor. Nevertheless, mission accomplished.

Of the three the Star was the most pleasant to use with the steadying handle a great help and the shutter action smooth and easy. Altogether a clever design keeping dust out and preventing accidental exposures.

Will I do it again? Well I bought a two-pack of film so it would be rude not to. But next time I will get prints.

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17 thoughts on “Kodak Star, 60 and S30 – One City, One Film, Three 110 Cameras”

  1. Hi the STAR looks a lot like the Ektar 12 that I have recently been given. It already had a film in it, partly exposed so I am using it and will send the film off for processing, (with no great hopes!)

  2. 110 is ok if your expectations are low…. Which is why the lomo people make the film. I just wish they’d start making 126 again. Much larger image to work from and way better cameras were made for 126 film. I’m too lazy to reload from 35 into a reused 126 cartridge

    1. Michael Zwicky-Ross

      I’m definitely with you on 126, I’ve got literally dozens of Instamatics I could run film through if there was any to be had.

  3. Nice article, Michael, really interesting. I used to shoot a few 100 films back in the 90s, but the camera was a Pentax 110. I have good memories of this format. Although I have a few 110 cameras (not Pentax) in my small collection, I am ashamed to say I haven’t used any in the last 20 or so years. Kodachrome and Kodak were the 110 favourites back in the day, and I still have a few of them in my fridge. Perhaps I’ll take them out and start using them films, no point to keep them indefinitely.

    Thank you for a good reading and photographs!

  4. Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your film journey and the trials and travails of working with a nearly obsolete format. I wondered to myself if perhaps an M43 camera with a macro 1:1 lens might be the ticket for digitizing if you’ve got a copy stand and a light table?

    I happen to also be in France (for a short while, hopefully more permanently in the future). I’ve got some expired – circa 1985 Kodak color 110 film, still sealed in packaging and I believe 6-8 flash cubes in another box. I acquired them in a lot purchased through LBC. Would you like them? I don’t have any current use for them.

    1. Michael Zwicky-Ross

      Thank you for your comments John. And thank you the offer, that would be great I would of course reimburse your postage.

  5. It appears as if the Model 60 gave the worst results – grainy with soft focus. The other two looked much more respectable. I wonder if there was fungus on the lens or if the camera wouldn’t focus to infinity? Interesting experiment with aged cameras. Now if only I could get “reasonably” priced 126 film…..

    1. Michael Zwicky-Ross

      Good evening Ken. I suspect the 60 has been dropped at some point as there is a dent in one of its corners. Now I’m going to have to look for a replacement. GAS is a terrible syndrome. I have probably dozens of 126 cameras so I’m with you there. We should start a petition

  6. You have my deepest sympathy Michael and a recommendation to take up John F’s suggestion and copy your negatives with a digital camera and macro lens. I only ever do this myself with all film sizes, 110 to 5×4 and am never disappointed. If I have film processed commercially, I specify process only, usually with colour negative materials, mono I process myself. Getting a positive from C41 in software can be tricky but not impossible.
    A very interesting exercise, however, and an interesting read, both from a photographic point of view and to see something of Chartres. The comparison between the cameras is fascinating. Thank you for the article.

    1. Michael Zwicky-Ross

      Thank you for your kind comments Tony. I currently use a Canon flat bed scanner for 35mm which has produced good results from my many yellow boxes of Kodachrome and a few more recent monochrome films but it certainly didn’t work for this 110. I tried masking off the 35mm carrier but the end results were no better than the commercial scans I have. Unfortunately funds won’t run to an M45 but I am inspired now to have a rummage through my collection and see what I can put together to try a light box and a macro setup. Results to follow. Mike

  7. Really fun article! I shot a lot of 110 film in the 80s and 90s when I was a kid. On a nostalgic whim I recently purchased a Minolta Autopak 460tx and ran my first roll of Tiger 200 through it. I really enjoyed using the camera and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
    Thanks for sharing your story and your photos!

    1. Michael Zwicky-Ross

      Your kind comments are much appreciated. I used to have an Autopak before I thinned out the non-Kodak items and I remember it fondly. So many cameras, so little time…

  8. I actually have a great Pentax 110 slr camera with interchangeable lenses. It takes amazing photos but very hard to find places that processes it inexpensively. So I gave up on it. It’s a luxury to shoot film. I now use the lenses on it’s digital cousin and print using my Instax printer. Much easier and no waiting several weeks for prints.

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