James's Camera Collection: Kodak Stereo

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Kodak Stereo
Format: Realist
Approx. dates of manufacture: 1954 - 1959
Approx. original price: $84.50
Approx. street value: $84.50

I wrote more about stereo photography elsewhere, so I'm just going to discuss the camera here.

Kodak preferred to set trends rather than follow, but they would jump into a market if they thought they could compete. So when the stereo realist format became popular in the early 50s, Kodak refused to be left out. They made their own camera, the Kodak Stereo.

click for larger adThis was the first stereo camera I ever bought. I found it in the bottom of a box at a yard sale. At first I thought it was junk Brownie Super 27 from the 50s, but the more I looked at it the more I suspected it was a stereo camera (the fact that it says Kodak Stereo in big letters in the front should have been a tip-off). $5 and it was mine. Best $5 I ever spent.

The Kodak Stereo is a mid-level camera. It has full manual exposure control and you can set the lens focus, features that are sadly missing on a lot of stereo cameras. The lens rings accept Series V filters, another nicety, and has a flash coupler. It's also sturdy and fairly heavy steel and aluminum, along with some plastic. It may look like cheap on first glance, but it's very capable.

In the book Glass, Brass & Chrome by Kalton Lahue and Joseph Bailey, this camera had the feel of quality that most-closely matched the original Realist, but frankly I think the Revere cameras were pretty impressive too.

Two small features really make this Kodak stand out. One is that the viewfinder is placed between the lenses, so you get no parallax error (the Realist had this feature too). And they added a bubble level that is viewable within the viewfinder so you don't give people headaches by taking off-kilter photos. I think that was a Kodak exclusive.

That and it's just a little workhorse. The best cameras just hang in there even though they're now eligible for the senior discount at Olive Garden. My Kodak still takes great 3D photos, even though it's older than I am.

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