The Eastman Plate Cameras Nos. 3, 4 and 5 were made in two models each: the Series C and D. They are well know and although they were not made in large numbers, they are not very rare today. But it appears that a very limited number of Nos. 3 and 4 were made in Series A and B models. According to information from the George Eastman Museum a small sample of test cameras were produced for evaluation and testing purposes. Typically they were loaned out for testing and for some reason this specimen was not returned to EKC. The Eastman Kodak production order book indicates the serial numbers for the C & D cameras began with serial #501. The George Eastman Museum's No. 4 Series A has serial #506. The one in my collection has #520. They were made in 1902. The George Eastman Museum has examples of both models in its collection.
The camera takes photos of 4 x 5 inch (10.2 x 12.7 cm) on glass plates. The frame in the back has a ground glass. A plate holder can be inserted between ground glass and back of the camera body. The frame with ground glass can also be taken out completely. The shutter and lens assembly are the same as on the early No. 1, 1A, 2 and No. 3 Folding Pocket Kodaks. The shutter has only two speeds: instant and time. The button for instantaneous photos is on top of the lens panel and the button for time exposures is on the side of that panel. The lens is a Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear. The speed is not mentioned. In one side of the panel is a pull out strip with three apertures. Focusing can be done on the ground glass, but also with the help of a pointer and scale. The markings on the scale are: 6, 10, 15, 25, 100 feet and 2, 3, 5, 8 and 30 meters. Composing the image can be done on the ground glass, but also with the little reflex finder on the drop bed. This finder can be rotated 90 degrees for vertical pictures.
In the Science Museum Group Collection there's a No. 3 Eastman Plate camera Series A. It is a folding camera for 3 1.4 x 4 1/4 inch (8.3 x 10.8 cm) plates. This one is also fitted with a rapid rectilinear lens, sliding metal strip with three apertures and the so called automatic shutter with separate releases for Time and Instantaneous exposures. It also has a ground glass in the back.
These prototype cameras never appeared on the market, but if they had made it that far, they would have been intended for the snap shooting amateur, not the so called "serious" amateur who desired to make perfect little works of art. The specifications of the Series A cameras are very simple and the instruments were easy to use. That's just what the snapshooters wanted.