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Kodak N°3A Autographic Special (mod. B) favori envoyer Print
Photos by JM text by JM. From the collection of JM
France Version française

Chronology of the Kodak brand  New window

Manufactured in Etats-Unis from 1925 until 1931.
Index of rarity in France : Rare (among non-specialized garage sales)
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Inventory number: 2319

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Kodak N°3A Autographic Special

Big folding camera, the "3 A Autographic Kodak Special Model B" as named on a plate attached below the shutter / lens block, is the first camera sold to the public with an integrated rangefinder, which is moreover coupled.

It was, in 1917, a big enhancement and everything suggests that professionals and discerning and wealthy amateurs have understood the benefit. The camera is made of wood and aluminum, covered with leather. It is also an Autographic model.

It has been marketed with different combinations of shutters and lenses. The most common is constituted by a Kodamatic shutter and lens Kodak Anastigmat. There was also Optimo shutters with  Bausch and Lomb lenses.

The presented model combines a Compur with a Tessar lens. The dating of this camera is not facilitated by the lens (No. 244893), which here is dated 1913. This top of the range model could be as old as the model release date (1916) or slightly later. The case bears the number 22,355 and the shutter No. 352,418.

Starting the operations is manual. Once the bed is open, the lens is pulled out by hand up to a notch, with a small tab to block him in good position. Then the focusing is done using a knob placed on the bed at right hand of the photographer.
Focusing deploys some additional 2-3 centimeters along the rails. the focusing distance is read on an engraved brass plate.
The use of this rangefinder is not very easy, since the aiming must be done in two stages. (1) The photographer places his eye sideways to see the rangefinder image and to adjust the position of the bellows using the wheel. Considering the size and weight of the camera, it is likely that a tripod facilitated this operation. Then (2) the photographer relocate himself behind the camera to aim with the small viewfinder so as to perform the framing (but without changing the focus).
the Kodak mask that cover the counter window carries the French inscription "N'ouvrir qu'en enroulant". ("Open only while winding.")

The model presented no longer has the small Autographic stylus; but a film 122, probably exposed, is inside, as well as the supply spool.