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Old September 17th, 2017, 08:39 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is online now
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Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
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[Part 2]

In Part 1 of this series we saw the first Kodak 8 mm motion picture camera, the Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 20/25. We saw that its aperture indication plate was marked for each aperture with a description of a scene lighting situation, a handy guide to choosing a credible exposure. (Exposure metering was, at the time, not practical for the amateur photographer.)

In fact all Ciné-Kodak cameras, through 1939, were equipped with this handy guide.

But this "table" was of course dependent on the sensitivity of the film in use, and was in fact predicated on a particular kind of film, namely Ciné-Kodak Panchromatic Safety Film (B&W), the only motion-picture film actually available to amateur photographers that was suitable for general use.

And the table was predicated on the camera running at the "standard" frame rate, 16 fr/s, which implied a certain exposure time (perhaps 1/30 s), and indeed the early Ciné-Kodak cameras only offered that frame rate.

But soon other kinds of film came into the "picture", such as Plus-X, Super-X, and Super-XX B&W reversal films, and, in 1935, Kodachrome color film. And of course the Kodachrome came in two flavors, differing in "color balance", Daylight (for work under you-know-what) and Type A, for work under incandescent illumination, most often photoflood lamps.

And the Daylight version could be used in two ways: directly, for work indeed under daylight, and with a filter, for work under incandescent lighting. And type A could be used in two ways: direct, for use with incandescent floodlight lighting, and with a filter fur use under daylight. And then there came Kodachrome II, with greater sensitivity. And so on and so forth.

Then, on the newer and more advanced cameras, there was the opportunity to use frame rates other than the standard 16 fr/s, mostly greater rates, to be used for "slow-motion" photography.

So the "cheat sheet" on the aperture indication plate soon became obsolete.

To move forward in this matter, in 1940 Kodak introduced the Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide. This was a simple dial-type exposure calculator. From early 1940 onward, every model of Ciné-Kodak camera was equipped with this device, in a form suitable for the features of that camera, typically riveted on the left side panel (loading door) of the camera. We see a typical one, this on a Ciné-Kodak Eight Model 20 or 25:

Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide

The Guide is particularized for a certain film with a small card inserted in the Guide. In future, all Kodak movie film would come with the appropriate card in the package. The cards, incidentally, always had a silver background, perhaps to make them harmonize with the stainless steel of the Guide proper.

Cameras equipped with the Guide would not have an aperture indication plate with scene descriptions. It would merely show the apertures. The space freed up on the plate would then often be used to carry the model name of the camera, which earlier had been relegated to a nameplate somewhere else, or carried on some other camera feature.

Since it might be some while for film including the guide card to reach the users, for a while each Ciné-Kodak camera included a set of cards for all the film types than available that were suitable for that camera.

The cards for the two types of Kodachrome film had two sides, one side for the film used in daylight (with a filter for Type A film) or with photoflood lamps (with a filter for Daylight film).

Owners of Ciné-Kodak cameras not having the Guide, whether still in production or not, could for a nominal fee (USD 1.00 in 1940) have Kodak add one to their camera. When that was done, the aperture indication plate (carrying scene descriptions) was removed and replaced with one only having the aperture designations. In many cases this plate would now also carry (in the freed-up area) the camera model name. But for cameras in which the model name was elsewhere on an important camera feature, the name was not put on the new-style aperture plate, but rather the plate carried the iconic "EKC" Eastman Kodak Company logo.

It was a massive, thorough, and well coordinated product improvement program.

But back to the Guide itself. From the photo above we can easily see its modus operandi. The three arrows on the right side of the dial provide for "exposure compensation". If this camera had offered multiple frame rates, there would have been a separate arrow for each on on the left side of the dial.

Interestingly enough, later, when Kodachrome became the almost universal diet of amateur 8 mm movie cameras, the simpler 8 mm Ciné-Kodak cameras of the period (which did not offer any frame rates other than 16 fr/s) , although equipped with a Ciné-Kodak Universal Guide (or a simplified form of it), again came to have scene exposure descriptions on the aperture control dial.

Plus ça change, plus c'est le même chose

[To be continued]

Last edited by Doug Kerr; September 17th, 2017 at 01:36 PM.
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