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Art Deco Cameras

Kodak Bantam 4.5


Kodak Bantam 4.5 1938 - 1948
Kodak Bantam 4.5
Manufacturer: Kodak
Produced: 1938-1948
Body Type:Folding Strut- self erecting
Film Type:828
Film Width:35mm
ImageSize:4 x 2.8 cm
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Kodak Anastigmat
Focal Length:53mm
Focus Type:Variable
Focal Range:2.5ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Iris
Aperture:f/4.5 to f/16
Shutter Type :leaf
Shutter Speeds:T,B, I(1/25 - 1/200 sec)
Size Closed (w x h x d):115 x 65 x 40 mm
Size Open (w x h x d):115 x 78 x 68 mm

Art Deco Credentials

star star star
Noteworthy: Worth giving special attention

I consider this camera to warrant 3 stars for the following attributes:


The Kodak Bantam was produced between 1935 and 1948 and came in a range of miniature rollfilm cameras which introduced the 828 rollfilm size. Most version are Bakelite bodied but this one is metal bodied. A prominent feature of this model is the angled ends. The design was by Walter Dorwin Teague, a noted industrial design pioneer going back to the 1930's. Teague was responsible for the design of the famous Sparton table radios, a revamp of the Texaco gas station and logo, TWA identity and early Polaroid cameras. This camera uses 828 rollfilm format, which is a paper backed rollfilm with only one registration hole per frame.

The camera has a range of shutter speeds including T, B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/200 seconds. The shutter release in on the body. The shutter must be armed before releasing using a lever on the lens plate. The iris type aperture stop has a maximum aperture of f/4.5 and stops down to f/16. It has front lens focussing with a range from 2ft to infinity. A button on the back controls 'semi-automatic' film advance. Press and hold 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. There is a small metal table stand that pulls out from below the lens board. A larger table stand is available for vertical shots. A tripod socket is provided on the bottom.

How to Use

Find the manual here:- Bantam 4.5 Manual

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.

If you are not sure about the light level, err on the side of overexposure - i.e. use a smaller f number or a slower speed.

This camera has a range of aperture values - f/4.5 and f/16.

Where there is a choice, a larger f number will give a larger depth of field.

For the slower speeds, you may need a tripod to stop blur through shake.

Using ISO 100/125 unexpired film

Key: Green, Good exposure; Amber, acceptable exposure. Number of stops over or under shown.

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailShutter Speed (s)
with sharp edges
+3 over
+2 over
+1 over
+2 over
+1 over
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/16
+1 over
OvercastBarely visiblef/16f/11f/8f/5.6
Heavy OvercastNonef/11f/8f/5.6f/4.5
Open Shade
-1 under