The Kodak Tele-Instamatic 608 is an odd bird. To begin with, it uses 110 cassettes, most commonly associated with toy cameras. It looks like a spy camera, as compact as possible. Just enough room for the cassette and a lens, really.
As you may guess from the name, the Tele-Instamatic has a “tele” mode that allows a slight zoom. I couldn’t really tell you what the focal lengths are – I just know that one is farther away, and one is closer. That’s about it for settings. There’s no focusing, no shutter speed, no aperture. Not even a sunny/cloudy setting. Just point and shoot!
This camera was my introduction to film photography. While I grew up in the age of film, I never really shot any photos on film except for the occasional disposable (and those pictures were terrible). When I was getting interested in photography beyond the child-like wonder of a memory captured on paper (a feeling I try to keep up as much as possible), I asked my family for any old film cameras lying about as I’d heard they were cheaper than digital to get started on quality kit. I ended up with the Tele-Instamatic and my grandpa’s Yashica Electro 35 GSN (which I also shoot with but it needs a light seal replacement).
The Tele-Instamatic is dead simple and fun, but its biggest downside is the film: 110 film is hard to come by these days, only being produced by two manufacturers that I know of. It’s not cheap just for the film, and the processing is usually more expensive than other formats. When you consider the minuscule negatives and iffy quality of the cameras (see those light leaks?) it’s a hard value proposition to make.
But me? I love it for all its quirks and warts, and it’s just a fun way to take photos.
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