I’ve achieved the Kodak Pony 135 trifecta, having now owned and shot now all three models: first the original, then the Model C, and now this Model B. I wasn’t exactly striving for this goal, mind you. But an old friend’s father sent me his entire camera collection a couple years ago and this Model B was in it. It was only a matter of time before I put film through it and secured this particular hat trick.

Kodak Pony 135 Model B

The 1953-55 Kodak Pony 135 Model B, like the original Pony 135, steps the photographer up from the basic Brownies Kodak sold. Its 51mm f/4.5 Anaston lens, probably a Cooke triplet in design, was a serious improvement on the meniscus lenses in most Brownies. Its Kodak Flash 200 shutter operates at 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, and 1/200 seconds.

Kodak Pony 135 Model B

Like the original Kodak Pony 135, you have to extend the lens barrel before you can shoot photos. Twist counterclockwise, pull, twist clockwise until it locks. To collapse it, twist, push, twist.

Kodak Pony 135 Model B
Kodak Pony 135 Model B

If you like simple cameras from the 1950s, by the way, you might also check out my review of the Argus A-Four (here), the aforementioned Kodak Pony 135 (here) and Pony 135 Model C (here), as well as the Kodak Signet 40 (here) and the Agfa Optima (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

Kodak sold this camera to amateurs who wanted to shoot color slides, Kodachrome and Ektachrome. Kodacolor negative film existed, but not in 35mm format until 1958. These were all seriously slow films — Kodachrome of that day was rated at 12 or 16 ASA, yes twelve or sixteen. Kodak Plus-X was rated at a comparatively blazing 80 ASA then. When using fast modern films, this camera’s camera’s maximum aperture and range of shutter speeds seem limiting. But in context of the time, they were fine.

Ice cube croutons

Kodak discontinued Kodachrome and Plus-X some time ago. So I loaded Agfa Vista 200 color negative film into this Pony and took it out onto Indianapolis’s Massachusetts Avenue. My wife and I made it an evening out.

Liberty Street

But first I had to cure a sticky shutter. I’d just learned that on cameras like this carefully flowing a couple drops of lighter fluid into the slot for the shutter cocking lever usually does the trick. It freed the shutter immediately!


And yes, you have to cock the shutter on this Pony. You also have to guess exposure and set aperture and shutter speed, as well as guess distance and focus manually. The budding early-1950s photographer got no help from the Pony 135 Model B.

Mass Ave

But as that photographer’s skill grew, he or she could get good performance from the Pony. Mine suffers the vagaries of age. I got a lot of haze in most shots, especially when the sun wasn’t perfectly behind me. The lens wasn’t dirty, and I can’t see any haze or fungus among the elements, so I just don’t know what was wrong. Photoshop corrected the problem well enough on many frames but couldn’t cure it on many others, including the one below.


I also took the roll on a lunchtime walk in Fishers, the town in which I work. With the sun directly overhead my shots suffered from far less haze.

Tree on the path

Because I’m a terrible guesser of distance, I generally shoot cameras like this at f/8 or smaller apertures and shoot distant subjects so good depth of field makes up for my bad guesses. But I did try moving in fairly close to these plants near my home. It went all right.


See more from this camera in my Kodak Pony 135 Model B gallery.

These Kodak Pony 135s are all pleasant to shoot. They’re light and easy to use once you get the hang of setting aperture, shutter speed, and focus. My only complaint is that the 51mm lens felt too narrow. I prefer my Model C’s slightly wider 44mm lens. But really, you can make lovely photographs with any Kodak Pony. I hope you won’t dismiss them as junk just because of the Kodak name.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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11 responses to “Kodak Pony 135 Model B”

  1. Dan James Avatar

    So are you keeping it or selling Jim? 🙂

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m going to hang onto it for now, but long term I see myself not owning any Ponies.

  2. mike connealy Avatar

    You have some excellent shots in that Flickr folder that show the fundamental sharpness than one can get with the triplets of that era. It seems likely the washed out looked in that one image is lens flare. Probably a little tricky to fit a hood so it does not obscure the distance settings. The main problem I have encountered with Kodak’s Pony line is that the bakelite is pretty brittle and often won’t withstand a fall. Otherwise, they offer the opportunity to make images that often exceed expectations.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Kodak was just brilliant at lens design for lower-end cameras. I’ve shot enough old gear now to know that if it’s a Kodak, the lens is going to deliver at least reasonably well.

      The lenses in all of these Ponies offered a je ne sais quoi to the images, just a special look that I’ve not replicated on any of my other old cameras.

  3. Heide Avatar

    I wouldn’t take it on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but the effect in your photos is really very charming.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Kodak had the charming market cornered in the 1950s!

  4. jon campo Avatar
    jon campo

    I have the original model with the sticky shutter, I will try the lighter fluid trick. Your pictures are better than I would have thought.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Do try the lighter fluid trick, and I look forward to seeing your Pony’s results.

  5. David E. Tyre Avatar
    David E. Tyre

    Bought a Kodak Pony 35mm camera from the ship’s store (USS Intrepid CVA-11) 1955 when we were in the “Med” on a cruise. It is a range finder camera and took damn good Kodachrome slides. I still have some I took and they are spotless! Just wish I had held on to it! Now, use Canon and Nikon SLRs, digital, but like the “old” stuff more, as they were fun to shoot with.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My mother in law shot Kodachrome in her Pony as well, in the early 1950s. Have a look:


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