Kodak Medalist Camera in 1940s

Kodak Medalist. Click to see Pop Photography ad for 1944

Toronto. George Dunbar emailed me more old ads the other day. This one is from the recently expired Popular Photography back in March 1944. At the time, camera design in the USA reached its peak with examples like this massive, leaf shutter, roll film, art deco design by Kodak.

The best article on the Medalist is found on this site by Colten Allen. Kodak made a design decision to use its 620 roll film spools for the Medalist instead of the more universal and professional 120 spools. The media is the same, but the 620 has slightly smaller diameter ends attached to a slightly shorter and thinner core. Most professional (high end) roll film cameras used 120 leaving the Kodak-only 620 film to the cheaper amateur cameras. By designing the Medalist to use the 620 rolls, Kodak controlled both camera and film sales.

In summing up, Colten writes, “Of all the cameras I’ve owned and used, the Medalist is one of the most interesting, coolest looking, and best built. As a photo making tool, it is exceptional. The 100/3.5 Ektar lens is capable of producing very high quality and unique images, and the build quality should ensure decades more of use. My camera is now nearly 70 years old, and working perfectly.

“The design is beautiful. The exposed helical on the lens barrel, the centered viewfinder and rangefinder windows, the distance scale that turns as you move the focus, the big cast strap lugs, the big stepped viewfinder and rangefinder housing, the deep body, all work together beautifully to create a work of functional art.

“The Kodak Medalist cameras represent (to me) a pinnacle of American camera design and manufacturing, and if you like and use old cameras you should definitely try to find a Medalist.”

Earlier in his article Coulten noted that, “as with most leaf shutters, it’s best to select the speed before cocking the shutter, and if you try to select 1/400s after the shutter is cocked, it will damage the shutter”.  A seemingly odd oversight for such a sturdy professional instrument.




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