four, square, and fake?

Kodak Instamatic with flash cube

Toronto. With the ever challenging push for market share, Kodak slayed inept film changing with its Kodapak 126 for Instamatics and the flash bulb fumble with a four pack of mini flash bulbs in its flashcube that goes off and rotates after each shot to offer a fresh bulb along with the fresh frame of film. (Early versions used batteries but later versions (magicubes) were fired mechanically.)

The ad on pp 104-5 in the October 8th, 1965 edition of LIFE magazine demonstrated the simplicity of film changing and flashcubes IF you used the Kodak Instamatic line of cameras, but it also implies to the naive snap-shooter what a great job the little cameras can do. It was likely ads like this that spurred the Truth in Advertising movement (actually safety and unproven health claims took priority).

Professionals looking at the four images can easily see they bear no resemblance whatsoever to photos taken with the tiny camera and its fixed on-camera point source flash. Such a  technique burns the scene close to the camera with over exposure, and leaves the background too dark, with shadows crisp and harsh. Serious photographers routinely used off camera bounce flash or multi-illumination, soft boxes, etc., to give such overall lighting with soft shadows.

My sincere thanks to good friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar for reminding me of this curious bit of history when film was still king and flashcubes were the newest innovation for the family photographer.

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.