The Amazing Wonderful World of Instamatic!

Discussion in 'Antiques and Collecting' started by ReginaldSMith, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. ReginaldSMith

    ReginaldSMith Subscriber

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    I'm collecting and falling in love with Instamatic (126) and Pocket Instamatic (110) prints from the 60s and 70s. First off, I love the square format (I shoot a lot of 6 x 6). Secondly, I love the era of my youth 60s and 70s and I feel a bit like an archaelogist pouring over these photos.

    I do have some objectives in doing this. I want to see what social and cultural understanding might come through the photographs for one. I also want to see how photographic priorities might have changed. What did people value then versus now.

    But also just enjoying the stories that are implied (imagined by me) in the photographs.

    The Kodak Instamatic was a massive success for the company. You could say it was the iPhone of that era.
     
  2. MattKing

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    You would love my archive of my father's 110 Kodachrome slides!
    If you were local, I could show them to you using my pocket carousel projectors!
     
  3. mshchem

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    I remember visiting Kodak Park in Rochester in the late 60's . I was a kid fascinated with cameras and darkrooms . We started by everyone turning over any kind of lighter or matches. Got on a tour bus that kept us safe inside . Drove through part of the complex. One stop was the injection molding machines for Kodapak Instamatic cartridges, my young mind remembers a vast operation. I remember the guide telling us that Kodak reused the plastic from used cartridges that had been returned for processing. All the backing paper was processed for helping to fuel the power plants on the site. MY first camera was an Instamatic, had a wind up motor drive. My Dad fixed a K2 yellow filter to the lens and I shot Verichrome . I remember the smell of the flashcubes . So much fun! Every year in primary school we had a day we could bring a camera to school. I have 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade Instamatic photos of my chums.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    Incredible story! I bet those photos are amazing to see. So cool that you still have them.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    I'll bet it's amazing. No one in my family was taking 110/126 slides. They did use Instamatics, but only print film. Sadly, most of them were tossed. I have some scans of the prints, but that's not the same as the real object.
     
  6. MattKing

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    I also have a bunch of 126 Kodachrome and (to a lesser degree) Ektachrome slides in that archive.
    My father had a fairly high end Instamatic (a 504?) with a glass lens and exposure meter that was, if I remember correctly, manufactured by Kodak Germany.
    He was the manager of the customer service department at a Kodak Canada lab. From time to time he also borrowed the Instamatic Reflex that his department had at hand.
    Interspersed with all his slides are a few that I took - he encouraged me in photography from age 8 on.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    That was the entire goal of Kodak - making photography accessible to everyone. Your story is the epitome of that idea. Yes, Kodak made some high-end'ish Instamatics with light meters, rangefinder and variable shutter, and then the reflex I think was made in Europe. Other companies also made 126/110 compatibles too. Some costing $700!
     
  8. BAC1967

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    My first camera was an Instamatic X-15F that my parents got me around 1976, that's what started my interest in photography. I still have the camera and still use it every now and then. I also still have every picture I took with it. It was a nice simple camera for a 10 year old kid to start learning how to take pictures.

    [​IMG]Kodak Instamatic X-15F by Bryan Chernick, on Flickr
     
  9. Kodachromeguy

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    Wow, a blast from the past. My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic 500. Some of my school friends had the 104, 204, and 304 models. I did not know anything and assumed a bigger number, the 500, must be better. I lived in Greece then and a friend of the family brought it to us from Germany. This 500 had a Gossen light meter and a needle display in the finder. I think the 500 was made in the same factory that made the Kodak Retinas. I did not know anything about photography then, so most of my pictures were atrocious. And I did not know anything about filters, hoods, or why you would use them. A tiny AG-1 bulb holder called a Kodablitz provided flash. Oddly, the camera took reasonably good pictures technically, despite the lack of pressure plate in the plastic 126 cartridge. Kodachrome 64 slides were decent. The b&W scene below is Athens, Greece, from Lycavitos Hill. Even by 1964, the once gracious city had become a concrete mess of hastily-constructed and utterly boring concrete box apartments. They tore down thousands of elegant late-1800s villas and town homes in the haste to "develop" in the post-WWII era. Now these buildings look like tired crummy 1960s concrete boxes with inadequate ventilation and electrical supply and questionable earthquake engineering.

    Instamatic500.png img111_resize.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  10. Sirius Glass

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    Instamatics did a great job taking photographs and supporting people taking snapshots.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    Great stories guys! That 500 is very cool!
     
  12. AgX

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    I never ever came across that 500 model.
    I guess that is telling about a german made model.

    Buf it is on my list...
     
  13. AgX

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    If one reads Instamatic as a generic name, then I would consider the type 110 Agfamatics the most beautiful of that class. They also got that "sensor" release.
    However the basic design of standard type 110 cameras is prone to tilting, even with such good release. Kodak approached that issue with the cover turned into a handle. (Agfa even copied that idea with one model.)
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    @AgX

    Sure, my intent was to yak about "110 and 126" format prints. Cameras came from several makers in addition to Kodak, of course. All good here. If anyone has any prints to share, please DO!

    My collection thus far is about 300 images I've collected at random from strangers. Sooo many stories!
     
  15. Theo Sulphate

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    Nice stories and photos. As a kid, I "upgraded" from 127-format film to an Instamatic: a simple rectangular plastic and aluminum camera - possibly a 104 model. The cartridge fascinated me. After a while, I put black electrical tape over the camera's front surface and added a tele adapter lens. The black tape let me make photos from inside a bus without getting reflections back from the window. It also looked more like a "real" camera.

    I still have many Instamatic prints from those days. I hope to find the camera again some day in my storage unit, in one of the many boxes.

    I always thought the pocket Instamatic 60 was the cat's meow.
     
  16. AgX

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    When Kodak introduced type 126, Agfa is said to be taken by surprise, hard to believe though. Anyway, they re-invented and upgraded their Karat cassette idea, design and cranked out their new Rapid cameras based on the new Rapid cassettes. Technically the better system than 126, but lesser in loading simplicity.
    Agfa did not succeed to counter Kodak in America. And finally cancelled the Rapid system and took over type 126 instead. But the Rapid camera were a super seller over here, seen the number of samples still around.
     
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