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No. 4 Folding Kodet Special (1895)

This camera from the period 1895-1897 took 4x5 inch (10x12,5 cm) pictures on plates or darkroom loaded rollfilm. It was the poor man's alternative for the more expensive No. 4 Folding Kodak Improved (1893-1897). The former had a price tag of $15 or $20, depending on the lens, and the latter of $ 60.

You can categorize Kodaks in a matrix, with price on one axis and the kind of photographer on the other axis. The four possible combinations are:

  1. cheap and easy to use (for the snapshooter)
  2. cheap with all kind of possibilities (for the serious amateur)
  3. expensive and easy to use (for the well to do snapshooter)
  4. expensive with all kind of possibilities (for the well to do serious amateur).

The No. 4 Folding Kodet Special is clearly a camera in category 2: an instrument for the serious amateur who couldn't afford a better camera. It has a rising front and double swing back. This allowed the photographer to correct the perspective of the image and change the plane of focus, things the snapshooter wouldn't know what to do with.
Through the back door the photographer could judge the image on the ground glass and through the side door she could change the plates, draw the dark slide out of the plateholder or manipulate the plate holding mechanism for the horizontal or vertical swing. Through the side door the plates and ground glass could be changed for a Kodet rollholder with darkroom loaded film for 48 exposures.

The lens has four stops and the shutter has only instantaneous and time setting. The instantaneous setting can be manipulated slightly by changing the tension of the spring.

Only 1950 cameras of this model were made, making them not so easy to find nowadays.


 Page from Kodak 1895 catalog.