Thursday, May 19, 2011

every camera I own: the kodak pony 135

The Kodak Pony was originally manufactured in 1949 to take one of Kodak's proprietary formats, 828 film - the same width as 35mm film but in roll, not cartridge, form. (828 film also lacked sprockets. And now we don't dance.) I had assumed that the 35mm Pony was a replacement the 828, which was never a popular format, but the models were produced in tandem for much of the Pony's run - the 828 in production from 1949-1959, various 35mm models from 1950-1962. (source: Camerapedia). The 35mm models sold for only a few dollars more than the 828 model, and even adjusted for inflation the difference is no more than a portrait of Alexander Hamilton. Go figure. My Kodak Pony looks like the first or B model, but its lens is not collapsible, as the Camerapedia entry claims.

I got my Kodak Pony from a St. Augustine antiques shop, along with last week's featured Cub Scout Imperial Debonair, a gift from V. Maybe I'm just sentimental that way, but I've always thought the Cub Scout, a classic toy camera with classic toy camera limitations like no focus or aperture/shterr speed adjustments to speak of; took better pictures than the Pony, a bakelite camera that isn't exactly a toy: it has a 51mm Kodak Anaston lens that stops down to f4.5 and up to a neat f22, with shutter speeds from B to 200. The camera is not difficult to operate but it requires additional steps that I keep forgetting to take - like cocking the shutter, or pushing a little wind-level on the back of the camera every time I want to advance the frame. In the close-up of the lens, at approximately 3 o'clock you see the shuttercock in cocked position. I won't say that word anymore in this post. By which I mean position.

I think I've only ever run one roll of film through this camera before this year, and I don't remember any of those pictures being remarkable - I never uploaded any of them to Flickr. But perhaps my struggles iwth the controls (and lowish-res scans by Walgreen's), combined with mildly expired film, gave some images on this roll that bit of frisson I like in toy camera picatures.


It's an image I try to capture whenever I'm visiting family in Front Royal and we go to the local Cracker Barrel, which is across the street from this Target. (I wrote about a haunted Cracker Barrel in Naples, Florida, here.) I've always been struck by the iconic logo peeking out from the Shenandoah Valley. I have yet to take what I feel to be the definitive version of this bloodshot landscape (this picture, made with my Hasselblad, might come the closest to how I see it), but I'll keep trying, and not always from the back seat of a moving minivan.

every camera i own: the kodak pony 135
Cemetery next to Griffin Tavern, Winchester, VA.
Standing still, I still have issues with range focusing. This is one of the more in-focus shots from this roll, its sharpness aided by the fact that I did not mistakenly think I'd forgotten to cock the shutter and thus made a double-exposure from two stances not quite similar enough:

Practice will make better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I dig this. I just ran two rolls through a Kodak Pony 135 I bought recently. Mine leaks light pretty badly. I taped it up for roll #2 and even that didn't eliminate the leaks entirely!