Friday, August 15, 2014

"-matic" Squared

I picked up a Kodak Instamatic 500 at my local Goodwill via the Goodwill Auction Site. It is a beauty even though the instamatic format was doomed. The film came in plastic cartridges called "126". The film was actually 35mm stock that was perforated differently (one oval perforation per frame) and the images were square. The other difference was that the film was wound in the cartridge with a paper backing like 120 film. This allowed the cartridge and the cameras to have windows in the back where the frame count was viewed (printed on the paper). There are videos online that demonstrate how to spool regular 35mm film into a 126 cartridge, so I won't belabor that here. I took some of my 400' reel of Dakomatic Recordak and taped it to the backing paper (that's not how they do it in the videos, but I thought it was worth a try). The iso is set by a notch in the cartridge, so I couldn't use the internal meter. I hand metered or used Sunny 16 at iso 25. One of the nice things about this camera is that aperture and shutter speed can be set manually. Most other instamatics are full-auto point & shoot types of cameras, but there were a few that gave control to the photographer. One thing I noticed about this camera is that the shutter is for all intents and purposes, silent. I can barely hear it when I am shooting. If I were to shoot from the hip and not hold it up to my eye, my guess is that no one would even know a photo had been taken. The view finder is big and bright with parallax lines for closer subjects. The meter's match needle is at the bottom of the finder and I find that I have to adjust my eye to see it, but unless I am shooting film that matches the notch on the one cartridge I have, I won't be using it. Focusing is by distance estimation in m or ft (range focusing) or by matching little pictures (a la Holga) with the focus mark. The ranges are on the top of the lens and the pictures are on the bottom. I have gotten used to range focusing with my Voigtländer Bessa, so that is the method I use and I am usually close enough. This lens opens up to f/2.8, so I will have to work on my accuracy if I want to shoot those sweet sweet OOF backgrounds.

So here is one of the photos I took. Not super exciting, but it does show the contrast and clarity of the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar f/2.8 38mm 4-element glass lens. There is also a nice little bit of 'swirl' in the corners that adds a little old school charm to the photo. I think I will be loading this camera more frequently and keeping it handy.

Dacomatic in the Instamatic