James's Camera Collection: Kodak M6 Instamatic

Kodak M6 Instamatic
Kodak M6 Instamatic movie camera
Format: Super 8
Transport: Battery (tbd)
Exposure: CdS TTL automatic
Lens: 12-36mm ƒ/1.8 Ektanar zoom
Date of manufacture: 1967 - 1969
Original price: $99.99

I've had this since I was a kid and my memories are hazy about it. I got it super cheap because the batteries were corroded in the compartment, and I had to dig them out, flush it out, clean up the contacts and all that.

It's really just a Super 8 version my Brownie 8: it's got a fixed, non-focus lens, adjustable aperture (at least this one's calibrated in ƒ/ numbers, not "bright, cloudy, hazy" etc.). What made this nice was that it took instamatic cartridges which just dropped in and out. No threading, no jamming, no accidentally opening the door and ruining several feet of film; no light leaks!

My old man didn't like Super 8. I believe he thought it was just a way of getting people to buy new equipment for a format that wasn't significantly better than the old. He already had a really nice camera and a projector and other regular 8 equipment. Super 8 was nothing other than incompatiable.

I think I ran one cartridge through it, borrowed a projector, and was unimpressed with the result. It just wasn't worth the effort, so it was back to my Brownie. And to cap it off—a few years later I found I'd left the batteries in the compartment, and had to clean it out again.

click for largerSo some history: Kodak had a big success with its Instamatic cameras and decided to do the same with movie cameras. They had complained that metal magazines were expensive to make and prone to jamming; the newer plastic ones were better on both counts. The Kodak Instamatic movie cameras all start with the letter M, and these are the models of which I'm aware: the M2, M4, M6, M7, M8, M9, M6, M14, M16, M18, M20, M22, M24, M28 and M30.

There's also at least one Hawkeye Instamatic, probably more.

There's an old Kodak commercial on YouTube. The model there is an M2, but it's very, very close.

I found a print advertisement that described their line-up at the time, so here's a quick comparison of important features:

The M6 is the base model, as described above. $29.95.
The M14 is the next step up: it has a CdS meter to control the ƒ/2.7 lens. $49.99.
The M16 is an M14 with a better ƒ/1.8 lens. $59.99.
The M18 has a focusing 13-28mm ƒ/2.7 power zoom lens, CdS auto-exposure and the folding pistol grip. $79.99.
The M6 has a focusing 12-36mm ƒ/1.8 power zoom lens, through-the-lens (TTL) CdS auto-exposure, TTL viewfinder, adjustable eye-piece, folding pistol grip. $99.99.
The M8 is similar to the M6 but with a 9.5-45mm ƒ/1.8 power zoom lens, four film speeds (9, 18, 24 and 32 fps), and an auxiliary battery case that snaps on. $224.99.

I have the owner's manual for this one. Cllick the PDF icon for it.

Related Pages

Kodak M12 Instamatic
Kodak M22 Instamatic

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