Kodak No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak [model E-3]
Finally! I get to play with this!!! So, for many, many weeks I have looked at and admired this camera. It sits with a few other No3s on a shelf but this one really had me drooling over it. It is a big medium format folding camera producing postcard size images on now defunct 118 film with 3 1/4 x 5 ½” frames made by Kodak and built between 1903 & 1915. I can with some certainty date this one between Nov 6th 1906 & May 7th 1907. How? 1906 date last patent stamp inside back and the marked as “patents pending automatic” the shutter it is fitted with received its patent on the 1907 date! Good stuff eh! The postcard size images give away its target use – BIG scenes! This backed up by the provided settings – the shutter mentioned fires a 100th, 25th, 5th half, quarter, 1 second & T+B. Aperture in old American guise 4-8-16-32-64-128 which in todays money is f8-11-16-22-32-44! The beautiful red bellows pull out on two rails with possible pre-set distance finder stops at 3-5-8-30metres. This was an early expensive version carrying a Bausch & Lomb rapid rectilinear lens with up/down left/right adjustment to front unit. A waist level prism finder is how you view your scene, better than a lot but still meh!
Due to the obsolete film, a set of spindle extensions from @camerahack FAK118s allows use of 120 film. This means you can no longer use the film counter window so I repeatedly loaded backing paper marking and counting half turns, the quarterly placed screws around the advance key make this really simple. I placed the big arrow line at first roller, then 15 half turns nail the first frame then I went 6,5,5,5,5. Should have given me 6 frames.
Roll 1 FP4 and a trip to the moors specifically Gutter Tor and the old abandoned Ditsworthy House, a long abandoned farm stead that has been used for military training during and since WW2 and later filming of War Horse. It wasn't a spectacular day, a bit dull but a bit in the sky. I went about setting up tripod shots of half second exposures at f32/44 ish at the longest focal length to see just what it could do landscape wise. I did have to use it fully opened at all times as when folded I determined it was going to hit the film. I suspect being left open for a very long time has allowed the wooden ribs in the bellows to warp. All went really well, slow and calm which was most enjoyable though the film could be heard dropping off the roller early so just 5 frames. Results were pleasing! Well exposed so all was working sweetly and no sign of light leaks at all. The lens was sharp enough at the given 30m distance but lost a lot at infinity which is common for these folders. What it did have was a bucket load of character!
Roll 2 FP4 – After 2/3 days of poor weather and Storm Doris approaching, I was left with Thursday morning at the Royal William Yard determined to try other types of shot on a tripod in already 50mph winds. Shot 1 I warmed up with a sea scape of longer exposure than I expected and the wind gave it a tug, frames 2/3 the cranes again I was struggling for light! It was at this point I noticed I had the meter set at 50asa…. I chastised myself but carried on, I shot at all the distances with good sharp results. I allowed for reduced ASA during development and they came out well again, I even got the 6th frame by taking a quarter turn off each advance.
I guess some might not like the 6x10.5cm resulting frame size, or the faff of counting turns or having it open all the time. I, however am very happy to live with its quirky really slow nature. Rubber band attached hoods with fettled filters, pockets full of notes etc. It is a 110 year old camera that still can put a sharp light tight image filled with character on to film. You don't have to worry however as I will be returning this with my name written all over it. I want this beautiful piece of history although wifely upon proof reading this might not be so keen! Further text is not of my doing >>> Dreaming!
Click on the camera to see the photos it took