single frame: A truly crappy camera

Kodak Tourist

A truly crappy camera
Kodak EasyShare Z730

I learned a lot about how not to select a vintage camera when I bought this Kodak Tourist. At the time, I wanted to build a collection of folders and rangefinders. I set the Tourist in my sights as the last folder Kodak made.

What I didn’t realize is that most old folders could be had with a range of lenses and shutters. There would be an entry-level lens/shutter, a top-of-the-line lens/shutter, and often several choices in between.

I wound up with a Tourist packing the entry-level lens and shutter. The fixed-focus Kodet lens is probably a simple one-element meniscus; its widest aperture is a narrow f/12.5. The shutter offers one speed, probably 1/50 sec, plus Time and Bulb. My Tourist had specs similar to a box camera, and was about as versatile. When I put film through it (review here), the soft, poorly exposed results were disappointing.

Kodak offered the Tourist (and its similar successor, the Tourist II) with several other, better, lens/shutter options. Most of them were 100mm or 105mm Kodak Anaston lenses, a classic Cooke triplet, at f/4.5, f/6.3, or f/8.8. They were set in various Kodak shutters, the least of which offered speeds of 1/25 to 1/100 sec., and the best of which offered speeds of 1/5 to 1/400 sec.

I could also have held out for the Tourist II with the 101mm f/4.5 Kodak Anastar lens, a Tessar. It was set in a Synchro-Rapid shutter of 1 to 1/800 sec.

I would have had much more fun, and gotten much better results, from even the least of these improved Tourists! Perhaps I should look for another, better specified Tourist so I can find out for sure.

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13 responses to “single frame: A truly crappy camera”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    You know it’s interesting that Kodak put that bad of a lens on that nice of a body; that it was even that type of an option. Rather than just a financial option, it must have been a “I can’t use a shutter speed thingy and don’t know about focus anything”, camera.

    I had a Kodak folder when I was in Cub Scouts, that had no focus and a few shutter speed options, that looked like this but not as nice. I used to load it with Verichrome Pan in 620, keep the sun to my back, and I got better results , that seemed sharper and contrastier than your images out of this. Wonder if there isn’t something else going on with this lens? Died when the bellows got pinholes and there were so many other cameras coming along like the Instamatic 126, no one cared about getting it fixed.

    Speaking of pinholes, the last time I lived in Chicago (87-90), I had pinhole problems in a folding 6X9 I had, and a Voigtlander 6X6, and I brought them in to some old camera repair shop in Chicago that sent them someplace that replaced the bellows in about a week, it sort of seemed like and “off the shelf” thing. That must of been the “end of an era” when that happened, and I didn’t even realize it!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I bought this Tourist shortly after I started collecting again. I didn’t know very much about anything then, really. I’d collected from age 8 through my 20s, but I had almost nobody to talk with about the hobby and wisdom was hard to come by. So even when I started collecting again in my late 30s I didn’t know anything, really. That’s how I came to buy this Tourist — I didn’t realize there were better lens/shutter combos to be had, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have understood why it mattered.

      I agree, it’s crazy to me that Kodak would bother to sell such a poorly specified Tourist. It has box-camera specs at, I’m sure, far more than a box-camera price.

      The fellow who goes by Certo6 online will do bellows replacements still. I plan to send him my Kodak Monitor eventually for CLA and a new bellows.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        One of my buddies who loves folders buys from Certo when he has something available he likes…highly recommends him!

  2. Michael Avatar

    That is pretty bad. It makes me think of those nasty pocket Instamatic 110 cameras they made but for much larger film. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s pretty much it. I’ve used some nasty pocket 110 cameras that gave me better images than this thing.

  3. Marc Beebe Avatar

    I had the same model. The difference between this and a box camera is that it folds. Otherwise if you have a bright enough day you can get a viewable picture from it. Nothing spectacular though. It wasn’t meant to be top-end.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yep. I know that now — didn’t when I bought this! Lesson learned.

  4. jimhanes Avatar

    Kodak sold a bunch of those but they use the same crappy lens as on my Mom’s old Brownie Hawkeye. Any of the other Tourists are much better cameras. I used one with the 1/200sec shutter to take photos on Kodak Ektar 100 in Arizona two years ago that look like they came from Arizona Highways magazine.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do have it on my list to find a higher-spec Tourist to try someday. I’ve seen photos from them that were very impressive!

  5. analogphotobug Avatar

    So where are your Photos? Coincidentally I’ve recently started collecting Pre-1940 folding cameras. Here are a few:

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s a set of photos I made with the Tourist:

      I really enjoy seeing your work with your old folders!

  6. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Very interesting! Curiously I know a very good photographer who is getting wonderful results from an early Kodak Brownie box camera, and selling prints from it. I have an Agfa box camera that takes 120 film. My wife put a roll through it recently, apart from a couple of light leaks the images weren’t all that bad. I have a soft spot for Zeiss, and the same thing is evident with their old folders, with a variety of lenses and shutters, Tessars being the best. I am still waiting for a nice Ikonta wit the Tessar lens to come up at a price I can afford!! Although I don’t think they did anything as basic as your Tourist!

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