Kodak Bantam Images/Rolling Your Own…

I have been spending a lot of time lately in the darkroom developing film. There is something about the look and feel of film that can never be achieved with more contemporary and accessible digital technology. I could debate the differences and why one is superior to the other for hours, but I will save that for another post. This week I shot a few rolls on my Kodak Bantam. Lots of fun, and kind of odd images await those who dare venture fourth past the link below…

A portrait of My-Friend-Bob-Smith-Who-Lives-Downstairs.

This great piece of late 1930’s technology is still light tight and functions just fine. Like the previous post of image taken with the Kodak Autographic Junior , shooting this camera makes me wonder about how many point- and-shoot cameras produced today will be around and functional in 60-70 years…probably none…

As you may have noticed some of these images have sprocket holes intruding onto the image…this is not a post processing technique used to make my images look quaint and olde thymey but a consequence of the original film size used in this, and many consumer type cameras of the day, not existing any more…

A portrait of my Neighbor-Katie

…As it turns out 828 size film is no longer in production…not to be discouraged i did some research and discovered that 828 film is the same width as the standard 135 film we all know and love, sans the sprocket holes. Ok so getting the film stock would be no problem, I could simply pull a standard 35mm roll out of the cassette and put it into the camera…not quite…

…828 film was a roll film, as such the take-up and frame counting methods are dependent on a backing paper being used. Without using this, the frame counting window on the back of the camera would expose the film and cause unknown havoc. I could just tape over it and modify the spools in the camera but that would be a cop out…

…Another great coincidence is that 120 film is still available. A commonly used roll film, 120 is 70mm which if you remember your algebra is twice the size of standard 35mm film. By taking the backing paper off one of these rolls, cutting it in half and taking a little off one end, i had a backing paper for my 135 film. I rolled this onto an empty 828 spool and loaded it into the camera. Also, the 120 roll has frame numbers on the edge that just happen to be the exact frame size of the 828/135 frame…could it be that engineers planned this? I really don’t know.

The images with sprocket holes are 135 film, there are a few that don’t have these which are from a modified roll of 120 film which doesn’t require sprockets because of the backing paper which pulls it through the camera…

The biggest problem with shooing this camera is that the shutter speed is really slow. Somewhere in the  1/30-1/60 of a second range. Hardly suitably for hand holding but it is the only option as there is no tripod mount and no way to attach a cable release.

Also framing is a bit of an issue…Any viewfinder style camera is never exact in its framing, but there is no viewfinder of any kind on this camera. it was built with one, but mine has broken off. So although i can guess at the general composition, I never get exactly what I envision. However, I guess that is half the fun.

Want another issue? You got it…focus is really difficult. Not just because I have no idea how far this thing is designed to focus, but the shutter speed is so slow that camera shake is a major issue in most frames.

I don’t know exactly what happened to this exposure, I think there was a slight light leak or the film moved inside the camera or something.

another framing issue, still kind of interesting though.

I love that this vest-pocket camera is compact, weird and not your usual walkabout camera. The slightly uneven exposure across the focal plane, the fact that I have to shoot onto the sprocket holes and the lack of viewfinder all combine to make using the Kodak Bantam a completely unique and very satisfying experience.

Yours Truly, as taken by Andrew Paffrath of Lantern City Media and The Visual Collective fame.

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2 responses to “Kodak Bantam Images/Rolling Your Own…

  1. these are really cool

  2. Pingback: Land Of The Lost…Roll | Taylor Mahoney Photography

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