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Kodak Bantam

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Because 35mm film originated as a stock for movie cameras, a large fraction of its width is taken up with sprocket holes—not a requirement in a stills camera. Thus, Eastman Kodak introduced an alternative "miniature" format, 828 film, consisting of paper-backed rolls 35mm wide, but having only one registration hole per image. This permitted an image area of 28×40 mm, increasing the image area nearly 30% compared to standard 35mm.

With this film, Kodak introduced a series of Bantam folding cameras of very compact design. The styling was by Walter Dorwin Teague, one of his many notable designs for the company. The original Bantam of 1935 came in two versions: The basic model had an f/12.5 Doublet lens and a single-speed shutter. The higher-specification option had an f/6.3 lens and a rigid finder. The strut-folding Bantams went through several variations: after 1938, the lens boards acquired a metal trim border; and another Teague body design with angled, rather than curved ends appeared. The top models in the range were outfitted with f/4.5 Kodak Anastigmat Special lenses. Finally in the post-WWII-period the Bantam was updated as the Flash Bantam, adding flash sync to the shutter.

Most Bantams were strut folders, but the Bantam f/8 of 1938 had a rectangular pull-out lens tube instead. The luxurious Bantam Special was launched in 1936, a top-quality rangefinder camera with "moderne" styling. The Bantam RF designed by Arthur H Crapsey was added in 1953, not as a new folder but as compact rigid-body model for the advanced fan of the 28×40mm frame format.

Kodak Ltd. in the UK produced the Bantam Colorsnap series from the mid-1950s into the mid-1960s—a quixotic bit of marketing which kept 828 alive for a few years longer, despite the increasing world domination of 135-format cameras. Kodak re-used some ideas from the 828 format (paper-backed film 35mm wide with only a single index hole per frame) in their wildly popular 126 cartridge, introduced in 1963 with Kodak Instamatic cameras.


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