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Art Deco Cameras

Kodak Bantam f.8


Kodak Bantam f.8
Kodak Bantam f.8
Manufacturer: Kodak
Produced: 1938-1942
Body Type:Extending Body
Film Type:828
Film Width:35mm
ImageSize:4 x 2.8 cm
Lens Type:Kodalinear
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:40mm
Focal Range:10ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Fixed
Shutter Type :Everset
Shutter Speeds:T, I*(1/50) sec
Size Closed (w x h x d):112 x 65 x 38 mm
Size Open (w x h x d):112 x 82 x 53 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star star star
Significant: Pronounced and self evident

I consider this camera to warrant 4 stars for the following attributes:


The Bantam f.8 is a fairly simple point-and-shoot camera from the Art Deco era with a body made out of molded black Bakelite. It is from a series of pocket sized Bantam cameras produced by Kodak from 1935 to 1948. This particular model was produced in 1938 and was one of many cameras designed by the industrial engineer Walter Dorwin Teaque. This camera uses 828 rollfilm format, which is a paper backed rollfilm with only one registration hole per frame.

The f.8 model has a square section, telescoping tube, lens board. There is a catch on the side that releases the lens board. Hold the lens board so it releases slowly. This catch interferes with the shutter lever when closed to act as a shutter lock. There is no focus, aperture, or shutter speed control. Not suprisingly, the 'f.8' in the model name refers to the fixed f/8 aperture setting. It has a folding frame viewfinder. There is a button on the back to control 'semi-automatic' film advance. Press the button and advance film half a turn. Release the button and continue to advance film until it locks. The green window is only required if you want to check the frame number.

The f.8 came in a box with an Art Deco design.

How to Use

Modern film is more sensitive to light leaks. Keep the green window covered with black electrical tape.

The film for this camera is not easily available. The Bantam is NOT a 35mm camera. It was made for 828 film which is a paper backed film with only one registration hole per frame. The film gate size is slightly larger than 35mm but the overall width of the film is the same. However, you have a number of options:-

What I suggest is to have fun with some expired film, keep the backing paper and spools, and then load it with 35mm film.

Using Expired Film

Image beyond Sprocket Holes

Old expired film can easily be found on the internet. However, there is usually no way of knowing how the film has been stored and so the results are variable. The secret is to over-expose old film. The general rule is one stop per decade for colour film and one stop per two decades for B&W.

Use 35mm film with 828 backing paper

If you have some 828 backing paper, it is possible to roll some 35mm film into it. You will need about 42cm of 35mm film. This can be taken from a 35mm film canister. You should be able to get 3 rolls of film from one canister. The film gate is larger than that of a 35mm camera so the image covers the sprocket holes giving a very nice effect. To do this, please refer to Use 35mm film in an 828 camera


If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

Remember that the exposure guide in the camera user manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

The tables assume that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summer's day in the UK.

This camera has an f/8 aperture.

You may need a tripod to stop blur through shake.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/50s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/8+4 Stops
Not Acceptable
SunnyDistinctf/8+3 Stop
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/8+2 Stop
OvercastBarely visiblef/8+1 Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/8Good
Open Shade
Nonef/8-1 Stop