Photography, Vintage Television

Ozzie and Harriet for Kodak

The post about Ansco film and gear got such a good response that I dusted off this old post about Kodak, as advertised by Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, for you today. Enjoy!

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when a television show had one sponsor, or maybe two; all of an episode’s commercials were for those companies. The show’s open usually incorporated the sponsor, too. When these shows were later syndicated, new “generic” opens had to be prepared that referenced no sponsor, as local stations sold all the commercial time.

One such show I watched in syndication as a boy was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a 1950s and 1960s family sitcom starring the family of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. A few years ago, someone gave me a big DVD set of episodes as a gift. All of those episodes used the original opens, with the sponsor mentions intact. I learned that for a few years, Kodak was a frequent sponsor.

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OzzieTitle

Some of those episodes included commercials, and it was very cool to see advertisements for some of the Kodaks I have in my camera collection. Here’s Ozzie pitching the Kodak Brownie Starmatic. You can read about my Starmatic here.

The Nelsons appeared in many of the commercials. Kodak was pushing 35mm color slides hard via the Nelson family. The Signet 50 was a reasonably capable, if awkwardly styled, camera with a built-in light meter. I once owned the Signet 50’s little brother, the Signet 40, and it was a fine performer. Read my review here.

Ozzie and his family didn’t always appear in the Kodak commercials on their show. Here’s a commercial for two more cameras capable of handling slide film, the Retina Reflex and the Pony II. The Retina was at the top of Kodak’s line, and the Pony slotted between the lowly Brownie and the Signet series mentioned above. I’ve owned a Retina Reflex IV (review here) and several Ponies (reviews here, here, and here).

Ozzie and Harriet shilled lesser Kodaks, of course; all the way down to the least-expensive Brownies. They also held forth on the wonders of Kodak films and processing and printing services! But commercials for those things aren’t available on YouTube, so this is all you get.

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Film Photography, Vintage Television

1950s TV commercials for Ansco cameras and films

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Pacific Rim Camera photo

Do you remember Ansco cameras and films?

For many decades, Ansco was second only to Kodak in the United States. Headquartered in Binghamton, New York, the company’s history stretched back to 1841. But its peak years were probably the 1950s, when it routinely manufactured two million cameras a year.

Ansco manufactured simple cameras that anyone could operate, and also rebadged as Anscos more fully featured cameras from other makers around the world, including Agfa, Ricoh, and Minolta.

During the 1950s, Ansco advertised its cameras and films on television. Many of its commercials were shot on film, and survive.

Here’s a short spot for Ansco films with a simple jingle. Don’t those harmonies just scream 1950s?

Here’s a spot for three Ansco cameras that took 127 film. Ansco manufactured the two Cadet cameras, but imported the Lancer from a German maker. I had a Lancer in my childhood collection. I never put film into it because its weak latch kept popping open, which would have spoiled the film. I hear that this was a common problem with Lancers.

This spot for Anscochrome color slide film mentions its “big extra margin of sensitivity” that makes up for challenging lighting. It also mentions making prints from slides using the Printon process. You can see a Printon print here, which shows that Anscochrome was a capable film.

If you have boxes full of Anscochrome slides, you’re going to want to project them. So you’ll need an Anscomatic projector!

It cracks me up how formally everybody dressed in these commercials. In the 1950s, did friends really gather casually in each others’ homes wearing suits?

In 1967, Ansco began to favor using the name of its parent, General Aniline and Film, or GAF. It stopped making cameras, instead selling GAF-branded cameras that other companies made. By the late 1970s, the Ansco brand name was sold to a Chinese camera maker.

Readers with keen memories will remember that I originally posted this in 2015. A challenge of a blog that’s about photographically documenting what I’m up to is that a long winter tends to run the well dry. So it has gone this year!

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Film Photography

In belated praise of Kodak Gold 200

In case you haven’t heard, the Agfa Vista line of color films has been discontinued. They were manufactured by Fujifilm, which has axed one film stock after another in recent years. At the rate they’re killing stocks, it would not surprise me if they soon exit the rollfilm business.

Agfa Vista 200 is said to have been the same stock as Fujicolor 200. I’ve shot miles of this film under both labels and they look the same to me. It is the color print film I shoot most often by far. It performs well enough for the everyday shooting I do while being inexpensive and easy to get. I can drive to my nearby big-box store right now and buy a four-pack of Fujicolor 200 for about $12.

Its potential demise provokes some anxiety. What will I do when it’s gone?

Switch to Kodak Gold 200, that’s what. It’s nearly as available and only slightly more expensive. It’s just as good.

I’ve only just decided that. For years I strongly preferred Fujicolor’s look, probably because I’m used to it. But when I take those goggles off and look objectively at the photos I’ve made on Kodak Gold 200 I find many that really please me. This is a fine everyday color film. Have a look:

Red house

Nikon N60, AF Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

Foodliner

Nikon N60, AF Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

Downtown Cambridge City

Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C., Kodak Gold 200, 2015

Jugs

Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C., Kodak Gold 200, 2015

Allied Van Lines

Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C., Kodak Gold 200, 2015

The Pyramids

Konica Auto S2, Kodak Gold 200, 2016

My neighbor's house

Olympus Stylus, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

Bridge at IMA

Olympus Stylus, Kodak Gold 200 (expired), 2013

Flo's

Pentax H3, 55mm f/2 Super Takumar, Kodak Gold 200, 2016

At Juan Solomon Park

Kodak Retina IIc, Kodak Gold 200, 2017

Depot

Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Gold 200, 2017

Margaret

Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Gold 200, 2017

Grilling out

Kodak Retina Automatic III, Kodak Gold 200, 2017

North United Methodist

Voigtländer Vito II, Kodak Gold 200, 2015

Fujifilm, do what you will. Kodak Alaris appears to be committed to roll film. I’ll switch to Kodak Gold 200 and not look back.

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A Kodak Retina IIc was donated to my collection last year. My longtime friend Alice’s dad was a serious amateur photographer who loved gear. But he hasn’t shot film in a long time, and was glad to hand over his entire collection to someone who would use and appreciate it; i.e., me.

I’ve shot a test roll through this IIc, but I’m not able to write a review of this camera just yet. I don’t know why, but only the first shot on the roll was exposed. Was the shutter malfunctioning? Did I do something wrong? It’s too bad, too, as I ordered prints with this roll. I almost never do that. In this case I wasted my money.

After the film came back from the processor I opened the camera and fired the shutter a bunch of times at various speeds. The shutter opened each time. So I have no idea why I got the results I did. I dropped in another roll of film and am trying again.

Photography

The vagaries of old cameras

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Photography

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

I’ve had little time for blogging lately thanks not only to the bathroom remodel (see Friday’s post), but a hard drive crash. Thank goodness I have good backups! But the recovery road has been littered with setbacks and my main machine is still not fully back. What a mess. To give me some time back, I’m rerunning this post from March of 2011. I now own two of these vintage tripods.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1The more old cameras I buy, the more challenging it becomes to store and display them in my little house. Cameras line the mantle of my fireplace, fill a bookcase in my office, and occupy every unclaimed knick-knack-sized spot in my living room. The cameras I don’t have room to display I keep under my bed and in closets. And at the moment, my desk is cluttered with six cameras I bought recently but haven’t used yet.

So I’m ever looking for creative ways to cram in more cameras. I’ve been trolling eBay for reasonably priced vintage tripods, figuring I could could screw old cameras onto them and stand them in underused corners. I had been envisioning wooden tripods, but the first one I found at a nice price was this metal tripod in fine condition. Meet the Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Collapsed, it measures 15½ inches long. Each leg contains three successively narrower sections and you can extend as many of them as you like. Fully extended, the legs are 48½ inches long. Of course, you have to spread the legs enough for the tripod to stand, so effective height is shorter by a few inches. I screwed my Kodak Junior Six-16 Series II to the tripod for this shot.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

The tripod’s head is stamped with the dates of three patents, so I fired up Google Patent Search. It found two of the patents, one that appears to cover the head mechanism and one that describes the mechanism for extending, locking, and releasing the legs. Check out this page from the latter patent.

Here are some of the same details from my tripod.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Opening this tripod is simple – you unhook the leather strap that binds the legs together, and then just pull out the legs until the locking tabs snap into place. You can extend as many or as few of the four leg segments as you want. The legs are made of brass, with the first leg section painted black and the remaining sections plated in nickel. To close the tripod, on each leg you press in the top locking tab and push from the leg’s foot. The other locking tabs give way and the legs collapse in a jiffy. A metal guide is attached to one leg, and you lay other two legs’ feet into the guide’s slots. Then you wrap the leather strap around the legs and hook it closed.

Kodak sold this tripod for at least 26 years. Thanks to Google Books I easily found advertisements for this tripod (and its brothers, the No. 0 and the No. 2) from as early as 1911 (left, below) and as late as 1937 (right). Given that my Junior Six-16 Series II was made sometime from 1934 to 1936, it is contemporary to this tripod and makes a perfect display pair. My Kodak Six-20, which dates to 1932-1937, would also be a good match for this tripod.

I was fortunate that my tripod came with its original box.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

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Photography, Stories Told

My first roll of film

Down the Road is on hiatus, returning Monday, 26 September. I’m rerunning old posts in the meantime.

When my grandmother gave me a quarter to buy the old Kodak Brownie Starmite II at a garage sale, I don’t think either of us could have predicted that it would spark a lifelong love of cameras, which would lead to a growing interest in photography when I reached middle age.

It was August of 1976. The nation had just turned 200, and I was about to turn nine. I saved my allowance to buy a roll of film. Money in hand, I went to Hook’s Dependable Drugs to buy some Kodacolor II. The instructions said to load the camera in subdued light. Taking it a little too far, I first tried to load the camera in my pitch dark closet, where I couldn’t see a thing. So I moved to the bathroom and loaded the camera by night light. And then I went out to shoot. I wrote about the experience here.

Not long ago I dug out my negatives from that first roll of film and scanned them on my new photo and film scanner. I was eager to see some of these images again for the first time in 36 years, for when I got the prints back from Hook’s later that August, I gave most of them away to the children I photographed.

As you might imagine, my photographic skills were terrible! Among my first subjects was our beagle, George. I still have this print, but poor George is just a dot on it as I stood way too far back. My scanner let me enlarge the image.

George

Neighborhood children were my subjects on most of the roll, however. These little girls are Muffy and Dawn, and they came to my back yard to be photographed.

Meredith and Dawn

I was so mad at my brother Rick for stabbing his rubber knife into the frame just as I clicked the shutter on Darin, who is Dawn’s older brother. This negative shows some signs of age and rough treatment.

Darin

This is another neighborhood Dawn, the younger sister of Mike. My brother and Mike have been friends for 40 years now. Sadly, Dawn passed away several years ago. This photo also features the side of our garage and a little bit of my finger in the bottom right corner.

Dawn

One of the neighborhood girls was eager to try my camera, so I let her shoot me and another girl who I can’t identify. Perhaps if the camera had been held steadier I’d recognize her face!

Unidentified girl and me

Seeing these faces for the first time in 36 years was a delight. I wish I had shot more so I could have images of more of the many children in our neighborhood. Alas, we moved in October, and my next roll of film would be of children in our new neighborhood.

If you’d like to see all the images I scanned from this roll, click here to see the whole gallery.

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