Instamatic turns 50

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by RattyMouse, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,974
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  2. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,345
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Boy, that makes me feel old! I was doing camera repair when the Instamatic came out. I figured that nobody was going to repair these things. They were so rugged that very little ever went wrong, and when it did, it was cheaper to buy a new one than get the old one fixed. Time changes everythingl
     
  3. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I recently brought an old family Instamatic back to life. It is a fun camera.
     
  4. Wade D

    Wade D Member

    Messages:
    901
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Location:
    Jamul, CA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Instamatic 104 was my 1st camera in 1965. I was 12 and used slide film at 1st then Verichrome Pan when I started developing my own film a few years later. I still have it in the original box with an unused flashcube.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,095
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I found the last line most interesting:

    "This year is the 50th anniversary of the Instamatic," he said. "But it's also the 100th anniversary of the Kodak lab."
     
  6. Aristotle80

    Aristotle80 Member

    Messages:
    58
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Location:
    Baton Rouge
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I read that story I was stunned that so many people had difficulty loading film into a camera without a cartridge format. One person quoted in the story marveled that it could be "loaded in daylight." 120 film had been loaded in daylight for 50 years before instamatic came out! I think pretty much every roll film format can be loaded in daylight. It's not like ordinary people were still fumbling with loading LF sheet film into holders. My very first camera took a 110 cartridge, but manually loading an all manual 35mm camera was not in the least bit difficult to me as a pre-teen.

    Sorry if it comes off as too ranty, I just think Kodak really outfoxed itself by trying to reinvent the wheel with these cartridge formats every decade. Sure, the original 126 was hip, but maybe if it wasn't a hit we would have been spared Disc, 110, & APS.

    I dunno, I was born in 1980 and I cannot recall ever seeing 126 for sale in stores in the late 80s when I started buying film. In drug stores it was 110 and 35mm, in camera stores they also had 120 and sheet sizes. If 126 was such a hit, why stop pushing it in favor of successor cartridges?

    If it was your first camera, then I respect there's room for serious nostalgia, but on the technical merits I don't see serious improvement in the pictures.

    I guess my gut reason for not celebrating 126 is that I don't like waste. I feel like I want my camera to retain its utility as long as possible, and it was effectively abandoned by its creator before its time, maybe. I don't care for change for the sake of change, and Kodak seemed to do that a fair bit over the years. All the 126 people have my blessing. I guess you had to be there. :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,095
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you had ever worked in a retail camera store, you would know that the problems people experienced with loading and unloading 35mm film were very common.

    The 126 format cameras were super-ceded because:

    1) there were problems inherent in the design with film flatness; and
    2) the market wanted something smaller.
     
  8. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

    Messages:
    807
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Location:
    County Durha
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have a feeling that 126 film is no longer available in UK. Go on someone tell me different. Apart from the simple point and shoot models I remember a neat Kodak reflex that took 126 film back in 1964, but have not seen one since.
     
  9. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The last time I saw 126 film for sale in a mainstream shop in the UK was in a branch of Boots in 2003. (I can rememember the date as we were on holiday at the time, and I hadn't seen 126 in any local shops for quite a while).

    IIRC, Kodak last made it around 2005, with Ferrania ceasing production a few years later?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  10. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,553
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It was not just beneficial to Kodak. The whole industry was cranked up by the introduction of type 126, including those who did not jump onto the Instamatic wagon.

    Type 110 was very effective too.
    You are too young to have experienced all this. But have a look at old catalogs and price lists. They will tell you that cameras of this type were able to serve a broad market, though still being expensive compared to standards of today.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  11. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Definitely 126 did much good for snapshot photography....I remember many friends in my student days, who wouldn't have otherwise taken photos, using 126 cameras (and flashcubes) regularly. IIRC, 110 wasn't quite as popular....the quality of processing could be variable, and most casual users kept with their 126 cameras. or graduated to the easier-loading 35mm which became available. There was also the Agfa Rapid easy-loading system, which never really took off, at least in the UK. (Agfa also produced 126 cameras and film).

    Disc film seemed to fail through quality of the film and printing, plus the size of the cameras. APS was certainly ingenious, but expensive to use and superceded by digital very quickly.
     
  12. wblynch

    wblynch Member

    Messages:
    1,646
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    Very few people used 35mm film cameras before the Instamatic came out. They all used roll film, either 120/620, 127 or 828. Loading the brownie cameras of the day was troublesome because the paper rolls could easily unravel and ruin the whole roll.

    As a kid, it was my job to reload the family camera which I would take to the darkest closet and remove the old film and install the new. I loved licking the paper tape and sealing the exposed film nice and tight.

    I have an Instamatic 104 that is loaded now with unperforated Kodak Portra 160NC film. For some reason it won't fire the flash cubes, even with new batteries.

    I get a lot of great reaction from people when I take the Instamatic out for a day of shooting.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,553
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In the first, crucial, 2 years the production rate between Kodak-Instamatic and Agfa-Rapid cameras was about 7/1.

    Which is not bad seen the averall 8/1 revenue relation between Kodak and Agfa Leverkusen at that moment and the fact that Agfa was surprised by the Instamatic system. Thus having te re-establish their pre-war Karat system and design and manufacture cameras literally over night to face the Instamatics.

    Agfa manufactured Rapid-cassettes up to the mid-90's!

    The Karat system is, concerning handling, inferior to the Instamatic system, but technically more sound as it strongly resembles type 135, except for rewinding.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My first camera was my mothers Brownie (Holiday?). I was probably 5 or 6, and didn't have a problem loading 127 film.

    However, there were probably a lot of people that did have problems (or never tried because of perceived difficulty, impatience, etc.) that were suddenly taking pictures when the Instamatic came out.

    Think of it this way, how many of us would be on APUG if it were back in the days of text-only computer interfaces. No mouse, no clicking, no graphcs - just text and commands for everything.
    Personally, I'd not find it difficult, but I work in IT and deal regularly with people who can barely figure out email.
    I still can't get my mother to understand that Google is a web site, and Firefox is a "browser" that lets her go to websites. She thinks they are one in the same, which makes trouble-shooting difficult when she tells me Google won't open. (Because of this, I made about:blank her home page.) Oddly, she knows the difference between the TV and a TV channel.

    The Instamatic brought photography to many people who probably would not have even tried.
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,932
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I had one back in 1970 or so. It was fun to use.

    Jeff
     
  17. Francis in VT

    Francis in VT Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    126 easy loading.
    I remember a TV commercial where they showed a Chimpanzee how to open the camera. A person then handed the Chimp a film which the Chimp put in the camera and proceeded to take pictures.
    Re: film flatness I think it's hogwash. The problem was with the shutter release being so stiff which
    jiggled the camera unless extra care was taken to hold it tight. Other manufacturers recognized this problem and made their release buttons softer.
    I have taken photos with a Kodak 500 and with their Instamatic reflex which are as sharp as a regular 35 mm.

    To WBLYNCH. Take a 'Q' tip and bend the end . Wet it with ammonia and clean the contacts on the sliding cover with the bent end of the battery compartment also the ones in the top . Install fresh batteries and slide the cover back and forth a few times. The cube should fire
     
  18. wblynch

    wblynch Member

    Messages:
    1,646
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    Thanks Francis, I will give it a go.
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,802
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Instamatic might have turned 50 but the roll film format inside is much older. 828 dates back to 1935. Kodak later repackaged it in a 126 cassette as a square format.

    Ian
     
  20. foc

    foc Member

    Messages:
    104
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    North West o
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think that the Kodak 126 camera and film format did more to popularise amateur photography/ snapshot photography than anything else at the time.

    I think it also make Kodak the dominant player worldwide. It was a case of Kodak leading the way and others followed.(remember Agfa tried their rapid system to counteract Kodak 126 but the Agfa Rapid failed to take off even though it remained in production for many a year)

    Kodak C22 and later C41 would dominate the processing world while Agfa and others would have to change from their CNS (CN17) process to C41 in the late 1970's.
     
  21. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,553
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodak was already the dominant player worldwide productionwise, but by means of type 126 they got more hold in the consumer range in foreign countries.
     
  22. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,187
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Earlier this year I scanned a couple of hundred of my family's holiday snaps from the '60s and early '70s, most of which were taken using an Instamatic, and most of them apparently on Kodachrome (Kodachrome-X ?).

    What I found photographically interesting was that the large majority were perfectly well exposed, despite all the strictures common amongst "serious" photographers about how slide film must be exposed with deadly accuracy!

    Or were those old emulsions simply more forgiving?
     
  23. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    5,802
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I find nothing to celebrate with the Instamatics. The design was a poor one since it allowed too much slop in the film plain. The result was two generations of fuzzy pictures. It was certainly a step backwards from previous cameras.
     
  24. nickrapak

    nickrapak Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Horsham, PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some Instamatics had built-in light meters, so it's very possible that your parents had one of these.

    Otherwise, it can be whittled down to the beauty of Kodak's instruction manual. Their manuals did not advocate any creative picture taking like those for foreign cameras; they simply told users to take pictures in bright sun, with the sun facing behind you. If you have played around with a light meter during the day, you'll notice that most traditional "snapshot" situations are ± 1/2 stop from sunny 16. As long as the user followed the instructions, he or she could get adequately exposed images at least 70% of the time.

    Or maybe your parents threw out the bad ones!:laugh:
     
  25. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,187
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hmm I think you may be assuming I'm younger than I really am :smile:
    I was the custodian of the slides from a young age ... none were ever thrown out!

    No, I used it myself & it was as basic as you like: an Instamatic 25. It had a big metal shutter release, a shoe, a viewfinder and two settings - Sunny and Dull/Flash.
     
  26. wblynch

    wblynch Member

    Messages:
    1,646
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    Along with the Instamatic it seems the price of color film and prints finally became affordable for most families. Before that it was two or three rolls per year of black and white. B&W was expensive enough and color was out of the question.

    Instamatic brought simple, affordable color photography to hundreds of millions of people.