5 frames with...

5 frames with a Kodak Tele-Instamatic 608 – By Will Hopkins

September 19, 2019

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.

You can find my work on Instagram @williamhopkins or on my blog.

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  • Reply
    Jed Sanford
    September 19, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Anyone in the Northwest may benefit from Blue Moon Camera out of Portland they love and support 110 Film development and make their own which they have an excellent blog on how to make 35mm into 110.

  • Reply
    JP O’Connor
    September 20, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    The lenses on the Tele Instamatic 608 are 25 and 43 mm, both apparently f/11.

    • Reply
      September 20, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Good to know! I had never bothered to look it up. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Nathalie Porter
    September 20, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Lovely results, such a strong vintage feel.

  • Reply
    Cliff Docherty
    October 1, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Hey Will, nice to see the pics. You may well find those light leaks are actually the backing paper. Its particularly a problem with Lomograhy Tiger. Covering the exposure counter window with thick insulating tape seems to have sorted the issue out for me. Tried this after doing it to prevent streaks from light leakage through the red window in my collection of old folding cameras.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Cliff! I heard that shortly after I posted this. I’ve been shooting 110 in a Pentax Auto 110 I picked up recently, but after that roll is done I’ll try taping up the Instamatic and see what happens.

      • Reply
        October 1, 2019 at 8:46 pm

        On second thought, the Auto 110 has a window in the back too. Might have to tape over it now!

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