Well that took a while. On my watch list for quite a few years has been a junk Kodak 4A. I’ve already got a decent model but I wanted a junk one to strip down and use for wet plate. Probably sacrilege to some I know, as they tend to sell for a few £££.
There’s something about these larger folding Kodaks, probably the oversizedness of them I guess. At least they didn’t call these ones Pocket cameras. The 4A takes a now defuct film size which equates to Half Plate. 4 1/4 to 6 1/2 inches.
So I bought this one cheap off of Ebay. Its missing its folding viewfinder, theres a small bellows hole and the shutter sticks open.
This is a Model B version due to the metal front standard, earlier ones were wooden. I think the red bellows is also an age indicator before they changed over to black in 1912 but I’d have to check.
The bellows hole has been patched so is now light tight, the shutter is working after the smallest of cleans. As for the viewfinder, I might just pop an optical folding one on as a general compositional aid.
The lens is a Dallmeyer Series II, which might be a later addition as I can’t see it referenced online anywhere as standard although these cameras were sold in many variations. There are some front movements available and the glass is now very clean.
There’s some leather loss, but I still can’t bring myself to strip it back to the wood/aluminium like I have with smaller Kodak projects folding cameras that have been in a worse condition.
This 4A model B is a little different. The focus scale is marked up for Plate or Film sensitivity I think, rather than distance as on the other model. How does that even work?
So out of interest I thought I’d check the focus point. It was nowhere near where I thought it would be. I fashioned a ground glass (from a glassine neg bag) and positioned it at the open back of the camera. There must be something wrong with how I’m positioning or setting the initial camera. I assumed adJust the pointer arrow on the scale to the guessed distance, it was nowherenear correct. If anyone know the correct set up and adjustments please let me know.
Looking again at these pics above, maybe the front standard needs to be fully extended and locked into that chrome section and then focused by the wheel, but that would be limiting surely, then again maybe thats all it needs. I will have another look.
Heres a quick paper negative to check focus and image coverage. Thats quite a wide angled lens. (Digital inversion)