Vest Pocket Results

2014-VP01-7-2

I  recently posted about a Kodak Vest Pocket Model B folding camera that I was given which seems likely to have been my grandmother’s. Today I show the results of the roll of film that I ran through the camera right after that post. Read this post for lots of detailed pictures of the camera, and some of the history too. Do I like these technically flawed shots? Yes, they are very nostalgic. I like the idea that what is the first roll of film in this camera for probably 50 or 60 years, includes shots of my father who may have featured in earlier photos from this camera, when he was a child. I like also that it has shots of one of my own children on it as well, on what could well be the last roll of film that runs through the camera.

You will see from this roll of film (the entire roll is in this post) that the camera has some serious issues. Foremost are light leaks, several of them, at least one significant one in the bellows, and likely one around the seals of the film compartment, and possibly also through the red window in the back of the camera. Another problem arises from the extensive dust inside the camera – I brushed and wiped the insides of the camera very thoroughly, and blew it out with compressed air before loading the film. Perhaps I just loosened ancient fragments of the bellows or something, but the myriad black specks on the images are junk on the film at the time of exposure.

All of these problems are easily overcome – light leaks can be sealed and likely I can find a way of sealing or stabilising the inside of the camera to keep dust under control. However, the meniscus lens is optically poor and even though I was very careful with light direction and keeping the camera shaded, and even though the light leaks do interfere with clarity, the lens is just not up to much. Even if the camera operated perfectly, it will only take soft focus low contrast shots which have a certain appeal, but not much to my eye. I have adjusted the negatives a fair bit electronically to try to pull up some of the detail, but it just is not there.

There are some photographer problems evident in this roll too – one of the double exposures was a mistake on my part. The first one of my son was deliberate and is my favourite from the roll (it makes me want to take more double exposures). The worst of the light leaks is because I wound the film forward and unfolded the camera, and then walked around with it trying to choose a backdrop for a picture of my parents. That was asking for trouble with an old camera like this – even the smallest light leaks that might not be a big issue when given enough light and time will leave vivid marks on the negative. The white specks and hairs are from dust on the negatives or scanner bed when scanning. I did not take a lot of care with scanning – the holder I made did now work too well and the film was not flat, and very hard to handle, so I could not spend a lot of time with the blower and cleaning dust.

And for all these reasons, these photos look like they came straight out of an old family album. I did try to find subjects that would look old, and to frame my people shots in ways reminiscent of older family photos, but the light leaks and lens quality are really what make these photos feel old, even ancient and like so many that one finds in old albums, or the reject shoe box of images.

I don’t think I will shoot any more with this camera – 127 film is so hard to come by, it is expensive per shot (about $2.50 each compared to the Olympus Pen which costs about 30 cents each – it would be about half of that if I did my own processing) and it is going to be a lot of work to get it operating properly, and even then it would be all about a nostalgic feel to the images, and not about their image quality. There are other old cameras that will give that feel, with better quality. I think I might have one, part of the gift that included the Vest Pocket included a Kodak Six-20 Junior which is known to have taken better pictures in the past. It still has a roll of film in it, half used, probably 20 or even 30 years old, which I will be finishing soon, and then running another roll through it to see if it has survived in better condition than this one.

Even though the results are a bit disappointing, they are not a complete wash, and it has been a lot of fun learning about this camera, how it works, the best ways to shoot with it, and all of those things. The first shot is a keeper as far as I am concerned – I would like it better with less of the black dust specks and maybe I will spend some time cloning out the worst of them.

2014-VP01-4

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2014-VP01-2b

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2014-VP01-5

 

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2014-VP01-6

 

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2014-VP01-8

 

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2014-VP01-3

 

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2014-VP01-1b

 

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Kodak Vest Pocket Model B, ISO100, Efke R100 127 Roll Film, negatives scanned with Epson V700.

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26 thoughts on “Vest Pocket Results

  1. I recently bought one of these, and am worried about over or under winding each exposure. Do numbers show in the back in the red window or do I just have to guess?!

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    • Hi Mairi – thanks for commenting. The film that I used is no longer in production, but it did have markings on the paper that show up in the red window as you wind the film – there are symbols to indicate you are getting near the next frame position, and then the frame number appears which is where you stop. Other film I use for my 120 cameras all works the same way. However, since 127 film is hard to come by and some of it is just cut down from 120 film (which has different markings as it covers a bigger area), I am not sure if you will be guided properly by markings. If you can find film that is made to be 127 there should be no problem. However, keep in mind that when this camera was made film was much less sensitive to light (slower) and the red screen can fade which means that it is possible to burn an image of the number through the paper backing onto the film underneath. I recommend you cover the red window with a bit of black tape which you remove when winding and replace immediately without allowing direct sunlight to shine on the window.

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  2. Pingback: Hello 52Rollers: Introducing Ehpem | 52 rolls

  3. Pingback: Fixing Light Leaks on Colour Negatives | burnt embers

  4. I think these are wonderful, ehpem. I love that first one especially.
    The light leaks are like old spirits from the past – that’s what you get when you make pictures with a time machine, I guess…

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    • Time machine is a perfect way of putting it – I will have to remember that. The pictures that came out of the camera are seemingly from another era. The light leaks could be a bit less for my liking, but I have come to really like these shots. My son uses that top one for his FB image, so I see it quite often. Sadly, film is at this time nearly impossible to come by.

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  5. Looking at the camera post (what a fantastic acquisition) dare I say that it would be a sin not using it.
    Clean the lens, fix the bellows and tape 35mm film onto the paper backing of the roll you have just used.

    Interesting post ehpem and some good images of both camera and results – in such good condition it’s part of the history of film photography not to mention your own.

    David.

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    • Hi David. Thanks so much, and it is a fantastic acquisition – as you say a part of the history of film photography.

      I did clean the lens, which was tricky to get at but a soft cotton swab and lens fluid did the job. I have come to the conclusion that I would like to shoot some more film in it, so I will fix the bellows, sometime.
      I kept the paper and spool just so I could tape in film if I needed to. Even 35mm film if I have to. I don’t have a dark room, or even a dark bag. But, I expect the latter is not hard to find.

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      • Sorry – sounds like you had covered all the possibilities; just that it seemed as if you were going to give up 🙂
        Dark bags are quite cheap but….. buy a big! one, you will thank me for that advice when or if you come to use one.

        David.

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      • Hi David – sorry to sound defensive. I was more interested in making the point, subtly I suppose, that even with a clean lens this camera is unlikely to produce great results since the lens is a poor one to begin with. When I wrote the post I was giving up on the camera, but the results have grown on me and I am more interested in using it than when I was first disappointed by the light leaks. It sounds pretty easy to fix light leaks, especially the small ones I have on a few corners of the bellows (I can see them with my eye pressed to the back of the bellows unit and they are very small – 5 or 6 of them.
        I have another folding Kodak that takes 620 (and I hope 120) film that I am going to try out as well. It is probably “only” 60 years old, and has a much better lens judging from my mother’s pictures taken with it. If it does not have light leaks, then it might be the folding camera to concentrate on using since film should be easier to get or adapt to the camera, it has control over a much wider EV range, the negatives are even bigger, and the lens should give more pleasing results. It even has a cover for the red window on the back.
        A big dark bag it will be if I get one!

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    • Thanks Gillian. It does work, doesn’t it? Just not how I expected it to. I like the one of my parents too. Reminds me of photos from my childhood of great uncles and aunts.
      Did you notice the nice rhubarb which was a third subject in that photo but only just visible. The proud gardeners is a time honoured theme.

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  6. A very interesting experiment and nice results. I shot quite a bit 127 (and 620 and of course 35mm) in my early photo days but the ease of digital is hard to resist, but these images reveal character that is not easily obtainable with todays technology.

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    • Hi John. Nice to have your comments. I totally agree about the character. A bit much in some of the shots but not easily found in a filter or add on to post processing sofyware!

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  7. Photoshop should develop a Nostalgia filter that allows you to insert light leaks and dust particles in strategic locations – perhaps they already have – but yours would be hard to improve on!

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    • Someone doubtless has created light leak filters and there are all kinds of grain and washed out effects. Black spots would be pretty easy too. But getting this organic and natural feel might be pretty difficult.

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  8. There is enough interest, in enough of the photos to be able to say it was a worthwhile photographic experiment but I can see why they don’t appeal to you a lot. The light leak is just too apparent in most of them. I do agree that the double exposure of your son is the best. The light leak in that one is positioned in such a way that it becomes part of the composition, unlike in some of the others where it obscures it. The double exposure of the house also works quite well in that context as does the last one of the tattoo parlour. Loved reading the new installment of the camera’s story. It is a great addition to the pics and history of the camera from earlier post.

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    • Thank you Katherine. I am glad you find merit in them. The light leak is probably repairable – there are lots of methods on line. Still, I am not sure it is worth a lot of effort, with this camera.

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      • The double exposure of the house is actually a very old downtown building shot over a residence 20 miles away. I took the house pic and then got in the car without advancing the film. All the manuals of the day say to immediately advance the film to avoid this very problem. It is very easy to make double exposures which is an attraction!

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