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”
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.
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.
It focuses a lot better than my Kodak Vigilant Junior 620! Thanks for these.
Thanks very much Chris, I’m often surprised by the simplest of cameras.
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!
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!
Dan, If I may so bold, I can direct you to both on my blog 😉
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.
Ha that is funny! 😀
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.
Thank you, I must admit the finder is not great.
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?
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.
Besides that, if you want to use 120 film, there are versions of that camera which use this type of film.
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.
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.
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.
Wonderful! Keep up the good work!
Blue Moon Camera & Machine, our local shop here in Portland, Oregon, sells 127:
I love these photographs. They suit the camera perfectly and you’ve composed them beautifully – no mean feat with that viewfinder!
This is fantastic. I have one of these sitting on the shelf above my desk. I’ve never put a roll through it, but now I’m inspired
Great to hear that David, I would definitely recommend giving it a go, I was definitely surprised!