Kodak vest pocket autographic

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The Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic was a "vest pocket" strut folding camera advertised as "The Soldier's camera" during WWI, which added the Autographic feature to the 1912 Vest Pocket Kodak. It was manufactured by Kodak from 1915 to 1926. The camera back had an area through which notes could be written onto the paper backing of the special 127 film, a feature invented by Henry J. Gaisman. There was a choice of lenses, including a Kodak Anastigmatic f/7.7, a simpler meniscus or a Rapid Rectilinear. Kodak Vest Pocket 127 Autographic Camera

Introduced 1915 and continued through to 1926 although after 1919 construction was changed from the strut type bellows to a drop bed. Very small the first popular compact camera, it would fit comfortably into a vest pocket. Sometimes referred to as the “soldiers camera” because of its small size it was rumoured to have been carried by soldiers in the 1914-1918 war. This may have happened once or twice but not as a regular event. Its use would have been strictly prohibited.

The first camera to use 127 film, it had a small door in the back and a sharp metal stylus to enable the user to mark details on the film which would then be briefly exposed to daylight so that it the etched marking would be on the developed film. In effect it had a data back.

There are variations from year to year, some have a smooth black painted finish, some a crackle finish and some have leather.

The basic specification is:

  • Format: 8 exposures on 127 film (4cm x 6.5cm)
  • Lens: Single element meniscus or rapid rectilinear
  • Shutter: Kodak ball bearing shutter. Speeds 1/25th, 1/50th, B and T
  • Size: Including case 13cm x 8cm x 3cm

A characteristic of the type of lens fitted to these Kodak's is a fall off in definition at the edges of the frame and an overall softness of the image. An effect which is now seen as desirable! Some of these early lenses have been adapted to modern DSLR's by using lens adapters (e.g. M42 to Canon EOS) and extension rings to mount it where the red window frame counter would go.