Kodak Tourist

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The Kodak Tourists were the last in a long line of American-made folding roll film cameras from Eastman Kodak. The original Tourist was introduced in 1948. It was replaced by the Tourist II, which was introduced in May of 1951 and features a redesigned top cover and a new viewfinder. The remaining specs of the two cameras are essentially identical. Production was discontinued in July of 1958.

In standard form, all Tourists use 620 film, making eight 2¼×3¼ inch (6×9 cm) exposures. The Tourist's most unusual feature is its back; through the use of cleverly engineered latches, it can be opened on the left side, right side, or removed completely.

Removing the back allows the use of the optional multi-format Kodak Tourist Adapter Kit, which consists of:

  1. a replacement camera back with red windows for three additional formats
  2. film frame masks for "Square" (2¼×2¼ inch / 6×6 cm on 620 film), "Half 620" (2¼×1⅝ inch / 6×4.5 cm on 620 film), and "828" (28×40mm on 828 film) masks
  3. 828 roll film supply and take up spool adapters
  4. clip-on viewfinder masks for each of the three additional formats.
  5. zippered carrying case and instruction manual
  6. when new, the kit also included an empty 828 reel for the first use (rarely seen today)

The Kodak Tourist Adapter Kit is compatible with all Tourist and Tourist II models with f/6.3 or f/4.5 lenses.

The Kodak Tourist is unique in being designed by the manufacturer to accept such significantly different film sizes as 620 and 828. Because the lens is not interchangeable, and with fixed lens focal lengths around 100mm, the camera becomes essentially a mild telephoto when used with 828 film. In this configuration it is suitable primarily for portraiture, though could also be used for other telephoto uses such as wildlife photography provided the subject did not require rapid refocussing of the lens.

The Tourists are well made and feature a die cast aluminum body, covered in black Kodadur, a synthetic leather of remarkable durability. All models feature a tripod socket, a lens door mounted shutter release, and eye-level viewfinders. Frame advancement and shutter cocking are not linked and are completely manual on all models. All Tourists feature flash synchronization via the ASA bayonet socket. The Anaston and Anastar lens models feature front-element focusing and top mounted accessory shoes; the fixed-focus Kodet lens models lack these features and had smaller viewfinders. Lacking accessory shoes, the Kodet model must take a flash-gun mounted on a special bracket that attaches to the tripod socket. All Tourists had sockets for cable release on the shutter body; on certain models this socket is accessed by first removing a cover screw.

The camera back on the Kodet f/12.5 and Anaston f/8.8 models is plain, featuring only a small window for the film frame counter with a traditional external rotating cover. The camera backs on Anaston and Anastar f/6.3 and f/4.5 models include a large, adjustable rectangular exposure calculator, which is specific to the lens and shutter mounted to the camera (i.e., the exposure calculator on a given camera includes only those shutter speeds and f-stops available on that model). The exposure calculator is biased towards over-exposure—it approximates a “sunny 8” rule, and may thus lead to photos that are moderately to severely overexposed, depending on the film's exposure latitude. The backs on f/6.3 and f/4.5 cameras also include a lever that actuates an internal cover for the frame counter window. The Kodak Tourist Adapter Kit back includes only a small circular film type reminder dial, with no exposure calculator, in order to make room for the multiple film format frame counter windows. Three frame counter windows are hidden behind a large disk that is rotated into position for all four different formats—the 828 and 6×6 formats use the same window—and includes an external rotating cover for the windows.

A variety of lens/shutter combinations were available on the Tourists, representing a very wide range of prices. At the low end, the camera is little more than a folding equivalent of a box camera, though with a larger frame size than many contemporary box cameras; at the upper end, the camera is capable of producing professional-level results.

The Tourists show a curious similarity to two European Kodak models introduced somewhat later. The British Kodak Sterling II and Juniors (Tourist) and the French Kodak Modèle B 11 (Tourist II) utilize strikingly similar folding struts and top plate/viewfinder assemblies, though the folding bed on these cameras are hinged on the left whereas the Tourist follows the American convention and is hinged on the right.

According to Kodak the Tourist was introduced at a price of $95 USD[1] (app. $870 USD in 2007). At this price, the model was probably the top-of-the-line Anastar version.

Lenses and Shutters

Single element meniscus lens (fixed focus):

  • Kodet 86mm f/12.5 lens in Flash Kodon shutter app. 1/50 sec plus bulb and time


Three element Cooke triplet type lenses (front element focus):

  • Kodak Anaston 100mm f/8.8 in Flash Diomatic shutter 1/25 – 1/100 sec plus bulb and time (not available on Tourist II)
  • Kodak Anaston 100mm or 105mm f/6.3 in Flash Diomatic shutter 1/25 – 1/100 sec plus bulb and time
  • Kodak Anaston 105mm f/6.3 in Flash 200 shutter 1/25 – 1/200 sec plus bulb
  • Kodak Anaston 105mm f/4.5 in Flash Kodamatic shutter 1/10 - 1/200 sec plus bulb and time
  • Kodak Anaston 105mm f/4.5 in Synchro 400 shutter 1/5 - 1/400 sec plus bulb


Four element Tessar type lens (front element focus):

  • Kodak Anastar 101mm f/4.5 in Synchro-Rapid shutter 1 – 1/800 sec plus bulb


images by Just Plain Curt (Image rights)


References

  1. History of Kodak Cameras at www.kodak.com

Links

Bibliography

Original documents

  • Brian Coe, Kodak Cameras - The First Hundred Years, Hove Foto Books, 1988
  • Original Kodak user manuals for the Tourist and Tourist II