Kodak Motormatic 35

The Kodak Motormatic 35 is a 35mm viewfinder camera made by Kodak in the US during early 1960’s. It is one of the higher-end models of Kodak’s common citizen cameras and is equipped with a high quality Tessar-type 44mm f2.8 Ektanar lens. The Motormatic 35 provides shutter-priority automatic exposure through the use of a selenium meter with camera selected apreture value displayed on top of the lens assembly (see photo below).

There is no film advance lever or dail on the Motormatic 35 because it uses a spring motor to drive the film. Information on the Internet points out that each full wind-up (see photo below) of the spring enables the user to shoot about 6 frames with a continuous rate of up to 2 frame/seconds (Typical film SLR winders powered by by 4-6 AA batteries have about the same frame-rate!).

A more interesting fact than its spring motor about this camera is its “radioactive” lens. Many higher quality lenses during the 1940-70’s have thorium oxide glass elements in them. While it has similar properties of the flourite elements that are used in today’s high-end lenses, thorium oxide is radioactive. According to information found on the Internet, the amount of radiation emitted per hour at the lens’ surface is about the same as a chest x-ray. Because of inverse square law, the radiation will fall to an almost undetectable amount at 1m away from the lens.

Although I am not sure about the long-term effect on health by using such lenses, but to the best of my knowledge, effect from radiation to a subject depends on:

  1. The strength of radiation of the source at its origin
  2. The distance from the source to the subject
  3. The length of exposure
  4. Level of radiation protection of the subject

The Motormatic 35 displayed in this article had been extensively damaged by water and moisture. I tried my best to clean it up so that it can at least be a nice display item. However, it is well beyond my restoration capibility and I finally gave it up after I took the photos above with a digital compact (the Fujifilm Xp10).

In loving memories of…

Status: Disposed

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One Response to Kodak Motormatic 35

  1. Pingback: Kodak Motormatic 35 auto-advancing camera — Daniel J. Schneider

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