Looking at the Kodak 1964-65 World's Fair souvenir flash camera.
This camera is probably one of the more unique and interesting analog cameras we've come across. It's something I ordered as part of a lot of vintage cameras. Creating reviews of working film cameras, especially old and odd ones is a bit of a science unto itself. The problem is that you need to get a working specimen so you learn pretty quickly that just having old cameras does you little good. Because of this fact, we buy a lot of cameras, most of those cameras are part of estate sales or auctions and sold cheaply. Once in a while you get a working camera but rarer still is finding something both vintage in working condition, and an extremely rare specimen. This camera is one such rare specimen.
The Kodak 1964-65 World's Fair souvenir flash camera(we don't have a better name) is little more than an old Kodak Flashfun with an extra hood over the lens that tells you that it's for the 1964 World's Fair.
A bit of history.
This camera has very little info on it that I can find. Branded for the World's Fair it's nothing more than a slightly altered Kodak Flashfun. It was sold in Queens during the fair for a whopping $7.95. According to one source only around 20,000 were made. I now have two of them. Kodak had a large stake in the fair with a large pavilion. These cameras were being sold at that pavilion as well as a souvenir. Combined with a roll of film this was a really cool idea since this would be a very affordable way to get into home photography at the time. This is something that Kodak was way ahead of the curve on and this marketing is a big part of why Kodak sold so much consumer film. It's clearly not meant to show off Kodak's best because it uses the older 127 film rather than the new at the time Instamatic 126. I guess they used what they could get cheaply.
Inside this camera doesn't have a lot going on. It uses 127 film and has most of the standard conventions for a camera using this film type. It shoots a 4x4cm negative. The lens is a fixed focus, plastic meniscus design common in cheap cameras at the time. The shutter is a fixed speed rotary shutter. Speed...unknown. But we can be sure that getting the right exposure is going to be a challenge with this thing.
127 film huh? Well we won't be shooting this bad boy any time soon. It's hard to find film for this camera but it is possible. But then there's another challenge. How do you develop this film? I can't find a source for film reels in this format and nothing I have can hold it. It's just a real challenge to use this camera but you can do so most easily by buying an adapter and using 35mm film. It's just too much work and so this camera is definitely going to become a display piece rather than a useful camera. The camera holds two AA batteries to fire the flash and uses a AG-1 flash bulb.
Thoughts and picture gallery.
This camera is a nice size, it's sort of sleek for the time and has a good feel in your hand. It's definitely designed to be easy to grip, easy for a child to operate and small enough to fit in a purse or pocket.
It's got only one button to fire the shutter and one dial to advance the frame. There's no protection from double-exposures and I'm sure this happened a lot.
The World's Fair branding was hard to photograph. This photo is inverted and even with playing with my lights I couldn't get a pleasing exposure that showed clearly the branding. But it's there for you to see, in all it's faded glory.
There's nothing left to ambiguity and it's clear that this camera was designed for the absolute novice in mind. Instructions are all over the camera and tell you exactly how everything on this camera works. It's almost comical but it served an important purpose in teaching American consumers what joy could be had with the personal camera. It's really a nice design for what it is.
So will we shoot this, will this entry be updated? Perhaps. I've cleaned it, oiled everything, and have it stored safely. But it's really just a piece of photography history that needs to be documented and put on the internet for people to admire before moving on to higher-quality cameras.