This 1930's Kodak is one of my latest buys and projects. Thankfully, despite its age, it in great condition. Normally the bellows on folding cameras are the first to go. They begin to dry up over the years and develop cracks which allow light to leak into the camera, potentially ruining each shot! There are minor chips in the black enamel paint and a few areas where the leather(?) outter shell is pealing, but that's what happens when you're over 80 years old, this doesn't affect the photo taking and who doesn't like some patina?
The lens had a build up of dust and fungus, to the point where it almost looked like milk or fog between the elements. Due to the simplicity of this camera set up, you can relatively easily detach the lens from the mount. After removing the lens, I disassembled the elements and cleaned them with alcohol, rubbed off any hard grime, dusted the area and replaced them as they were. The leaf shutter, aperture and focusing ring all work as intended. Opening and closing poses no issue and nothing binds.
As the name implies, the Kodak Six-20 was made to use Kodak 620 Film. Seeing as it is 2016 and 620 film production has ceased and as I don't wish to re-spool each roll I decided to make use of the still in production 120 film. You may remember that in one of my last projects I modified an Argus 75 to use 120 film instead of its intended 620. Instead of changing the characteristics of the camera, I decided to change the dimensions of the spool itself.
The film is the same size between both 620 and 120 spools. The key difference is the size in the spool. The 620's diameter and height are slightly smaller than the 120's. Even though its only a few millimeters difference, the 120 roll will not fit, much less spin/advance. By trimming down the diameter and sanding or shaving down the height slightly, you can reduce the spool to fit. If done carefully, the film will not be damaged in anyway and work as if it were 620.
Ultimately, what all this comes down to is the photos. Can this antique camera produce solid photos today? I say yes. You'll see first hand in these sample shots how it performed. All the errors in the photos are from user error. Some photos are underexposed simply because the sun was going down and I had Ektar 100 loaded but wanted to take the shot regardless. Some aren't as sharp, this is because I hadn't judged the distance well enough. Some aren't composed properly because the viewing glass is above and off center of the actual lens, trial and error is needed on my part.
Sure, this isn't the best camera to pick up and go shooting with, nor is it the most convenient. Maybe that is why I like it so much. It truly put me on the spot and made me think about the shot more so than any film camera I've used. In our modern fast paced world, this surviving piece of photographic Art Deco slows it back down to 1930. What ever this camera lacks, it makes up in tactile function and arguably it's style.
Would I shoot this camera again? The answer is a resounding yes!
Thanks for reading everyone, if you have any questions feel free to ask. Now enjoy some sample photos from the first roll.