Monday, December 29, 2014

Spotlight: Kodak Medalist II

This last weekend I was at an antique mall when I came across this big beautiful beast, a Kodak Medalist II. The Medalist II was first introduced in 1946, and was marketed toward professional photographers and wealthy enthusiasts (It cost around $270, which is over $3,000 in today's money). The camera has a surprisingly easy to use viewfinder/rangefinder system, and a cool retractable "double helix focusing tube" lens. Unfortunately, the Medalist II takes 620 film, which means you have to go through the arduous chore of re-spooling 120 film onto 620 reels each time you want to shoot. Negatives are 6 x 9 cm, and you get 8 shots per roll.

Once again, the Medalist II was a professional's camera, and therefore had professional features. You get a full range of shutter speeds, from 1 second to 1/400th of a second. Once loaded, the camera's advance system will stop automatically at each new frame on the roll, meaning you don't have to look through a little red window and manually stop turning the advance knob when the next frame number pops up (Though a red window is included as a fail-safe). Multi-exposures are possible by cocking a lever next to the viewfinder. The Medalist II has a really awesome depth-of-field scale that spins around as you focus the lens!

The Kodak Medalist II is compact for a 6x9 camera, but it weighs over 3 pounds!

I took my Medalist II with me on a walk through some local woods. Here are some results I got with the camera:

I enjoyed shooting with the Kodak Medalist II. Its Ergonomics leave a bit to be desired by modern standards, but it has some serious deco charm. The 100mm Ektar lens is pretty sharp for its age (most of my examples were shot wide open at F/3.5 or F/4). Thanks for looking!