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Kodak 'Pony 828' Camera

May 5, 2011

'Fly Fishing the South Santiam'


"828" is "35 mm" without the sprocket holes. The Kodak Pony 828 is a fun little thing. The camera actually has a good, 3-element lens. It was intended to be a 'real' camera. It's small and weighs almost nothing, so the lightest of tripods is sufficient. The Pony only takes eight exposures. A half dozen loaded Ponies can easily be carried in a small backpack for photo day hikes. All-in-all, you couldn't ask for an easier or more economical way to explore film making.

There are only two drawbacks for our purposes. One is that the shutter speed goes straight from B(ulb) to 1/25 second. The slow shutter speed range so handy for homemade film is missing. That means you have to go with a fairly small aperture and use the 'B' setting. For all the shots on this roll, I set the aperture at f/11 and self-timed 1/2 second. The latitude of the film is good enough that the exposure variations inevitable with the "One Hippo" system* of timing pretty much don't matter.

A bit more serious a problem is the challenge of finding 828 spools and backing paper. The Pony counts film through a view window in the back. Fortunately, most cameras come with a spool and it is easy enough to cut custom backing paper from readily available 120 rolls. I will work on getting a d.i.y. template for that posted here soon. The best way to collect spools is to collect a few cameras, making sure each comes with at least one spool. After that, it's just a matter of setting up an ebay, etc, search and gradually building your collection. I have eight Ponies and two came with film in the camera — that's two spools, backing paper and a camera!

*Tip (and don't laugh!) : Take an empty film camera or LF lens that has the normal range of shutter speeds, and against the sound of the shutter releasing at various settings, practice saying 'one hippopotamus, two hippo...' or 'Mississippi' or whatever incantation works for you to consistently match the slowest shutter speeds. 1/4 sec is basically the time it takes to push down and let go of the shutter release button.

South Santiam River, Fernview Campground, Hwy 20 in the Oregon Cascades. "TLF#2, 2.2" negative emulsion.

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