5 Frames with a Kodak Vest Pocket – By Dan Smith

Although not a 35mm camera I thought I would share these five shots taken with what is possibly one of the first true compact cameras, the Kodak Vest Pocket. Mine is probably about a hundred years old and a bit tatty but I was surprised at the quality of the images I got out of it, they are far from perfect but I think they have great character.

I was particularly happy with the framing as the tiny waist level finder really only hints of what you can expect with it being so small. I did manage a very wonky horizon in one of the pictures but that could well just be me! I also shot the whole roll vertically forgetting the image was not a square!

Saying that it’s not all rosy, I obviously have a bit of a light leak in the bellows, I did notice this before using it but I guess my repair didn’t work completely. It’s also becoming increasingly expensive to get hold of 127 film, I am down to my last 4 or 5 rolls so will use them sparingly, which is a bit tricky as I have at least a couple of 127 cameras I haven’t used yet!

All images are from a single roll of ReraPan 100 which I developed myself in D76, I intentionally left the borders showing as I think they show more of that Kodak VP character.


Thanks for reading, if you would like to see more of my pictures you can find me on Flickr:


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23 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Kodak Vest Pocket – By Dan Smith”

  1. Dan, I’m really surprised (and impressed) by just how good and sharp these images are, and from what is a fixed focus camera with limited shutter speeds. It looks like the little shutter lever is set on 1/50th sec. considering the the instantaneous speed of 1/25 is to the left of B and T.

    This was one of the first cameras I started my collection with and it came with a mid-brown canvas slip in case with a fold-over flap with a press stud. I ruined it as a truly collector’s item by deciding the body needed a new paint job using a spray can of auto gloss black paint giving it several coats, then a gloss finisher. This was before I knew to leave well alone! Originality is the key. At least it looks good.

    But I never took any pics with it, so to see what it is capable of is an eye opener indeed. So thanks for posting.

    1. Thanks Terry, I was surprised too! It’s a great little camera. Nothing wrong with painting a camera to your taste, I think some people can be a bit precious about that subject. I personally like a nice bit of ‘patina’ but whatever suits you as far as I am concerned, I’ve seen some great custom paint jobs. You are right by the way, it is set to 1/50th, it was a nice sunny day so I shot the whole roll like that.

  2. Excellent shots, I had a Kodak Six20 Junior (which I sold last year) and that didn’t give anywhere near as good results. I have a Jiffy Six16 but no film to even try that!

    1. Thanks Nigel, that’s a couple I’ll have to look up, I have a Kodak Six20 box camera which is pretty good but I don’t think it’s the same as the Junior. Kodak made so many cameras!

        1. That’s great Nigel, thanks. I will definitely have a good look through your site. Believe it or not I just had to go and check my camera shelf, yes there is a Six 20 Junior sat there! I used it once but I think I remember it having a focus issue.

  3. I have been thinking of trying one of these. The shots are sharp and have a vintage feel. I have tried a similar camera, but I could not get it framed where I wanted it, so well done on the framing.

  4. Wow, well done. Impressive for such a simple lens. B&H in New York lists Ilford HP5 film is 127-size, so apparently there is still some demand for use in historic cameras.

    Question: in photo 4, do I see a tram or funicular going up the bluffs? Please, where is it?

    1. I was pretty pleased, thank you. I a surprised that there is 127 HP5 about, it must be re-rolled I guess. Yes that is one of two(!) funiculars in my home town, this one is the East Hill Lift, I live in Hastings on the south coast of the UK.

  5. George Appletree

    I had a Kodak six-20 Art Deco for a while and took interesting shots. It was a really pretty machine, more refined that what that one looks like. Viewfinder, lens and a full range of aperture and three or four speeds. Probably sharper and surely equally cheap. A joy really.
    I don’t remember how I handled to use 120 rolls in it. Cameras designed for 620 require nearly always some tricky adjustments for loading and making work 120.
    I said nearly always because I later bought one 6×9 old camera, that I still use, swallowing them straight on. First case ever.

    1. That Six20 Art Deco looks lovely and sounds great, yeah I’m used to modding 120 film to fit, I normally get away with just trimming the spool edges with sturdy scissors but it is a pain.

      1. George Appletree

        Yes, I remember, I had to unroll the 120 film from the plastic shaft and roll it in a 620 metallic one inside a tight light bag. Disgusting but I made it work.
        The only camera I ever handled allowing 120 rolls straight on is a Lumiére from about 1950’s. Incredible, and pretty sharp by the way.
        Although interesting the bellows camera was in practice too farragous to handle.

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