Up until the past few years, most of the film cameras that I have in my possession have been for decoration. The small shelves I purchased make them a perfect addition to my home office. On the rare occasion I pick one up, it is usually to dust it off, not to take photos with.

Lately, my interest in film has been rekindled, along with a desire to learn more about all these cameras that have been sitting around doing nothing. One of the most intriguing to me has been the Kodak Tourist camera given to me by my father-in-law. I don’t have a lot of information on who originally owned it, other than we believe it belonged to his father. Still sitting in the original box, the Tourist was in decent condition.

Given my limited knowledge about film, I wasn’t even sure where to purchase film for such a camera, much less get it developed. The Kodak Tourist takes 620 film which stopped being produced in 1955. The good news is that the only major difference between 120 film and 620 film is the spools that the film is on. The 120 spools are slightly longer and slightly wider than 620 spools. The bad news was that I immediately knew getting my hands on film no longer in production meant my cost would go up, but this was worth the experiment to me. Most people would think it is crazy to spend $17 for a roll of film knowing you would only have eight exposures. I won’t even mention the cost of having these developed as well because when I think about what I paid per photo, sometimes I question my own sanity. For this little experiment, I opted to go with a roll of ILFORD HP5 PLUS black and white.

Some digging around on YouTube gave me some pointers on using the camera. Aaron Collins put together a video about how to measure the distance of your subject in relation to the camera so that you could make the correct adjustments. Going in, I figured that this would be the issue I would run into with getting the shot that I wanted. Once I got the photos back, I was right.

To take a step back just a bit, I knew having only eight exposures that I did not want to just randomly go out and shoot the first thing I saw. My oldest daughter, Lauren, volunteered to be a test subject for the day which meant a fun trip to the local Good Will to grab a dress and some props. After that, I jotted down a few ideas in my notebook and we drove over to the park.

There were a few shots where the focus was off. I attempted to take a portrait of her and the entire background is in focus while her face is blurry. Since she is a teenager and hates most photos of her, she won’t mind that I don’t share the photo because her expression in it is not approved for public release.

Moving over to an open pathway, I set up the camera on a tripod and captured an image of her walking. Overall, I would have loved to have seen more clouds in the background come through in the image as it feels rather plain. I also noticed some very interesting light leaks coming through on the film despite the camera back feeling pretty sturdy and locked in. Personally, I am a sucker for light leaks and absolutely love the randomness of them, so this was a bonus for me.

Next, we made our way over to a wooden bridge where I was once again confronted with how to properly focus the camera. You’d think with all the photos under my belt that this would not be such an issue.

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Still, I love the light leaks and the grain in the photo. The only real correction that I felt like doing here was with regards to the horizon line and making sure it did not look like I was drunk while holding the camera.

With the pose of Lauren reading a book while sitting on the park bench, I tried to add a little depth to the image by using some of the tall grass off the path. In the far background, there is a soccer field and parking lot visible which meant that I had to try and position everything in such a way as to hide all of that. Overall, I was pleased with this one and ironically, it was one of the only photos on the roll without any light leaks.

With the light of the day fading faster than I would have liked, we skipped a pose or two and headed over to an area where we could take some photos in the water. It was starting to get dark so I questioned if I would even be able to take the photo that I wanted but gave it a shot anyway.

The focus was off and there is a large, ghostly apparition of a light leak, yet I somehow still love the photo. It was around this moment that I realized I was standing nearly waist-deep in water with a backpack holding 4 different cameras, none of which I was prepared to fully submerge in creek water.

Given that we were now entirely out of good light, and I was too afraid to drop anything in the water, I took my time walking back over to the car with a single exposure remaining on the roll.

I decided to snag a photo of a house that is for sale about a mile or so from where I live. I love the massive greenery between the house and the road. The wooden fence surrounding the property made for a perfect tripod since I did not have one with me at the time.

This photo turned out to be one of my favorites from the roll. Not only did the clouds come through, I was also once again given some random light leaks. As I punched up some of the clarity in the photo within Lightroom, I noticed a faint image of trees in the clouds. I also caught some patterns in the grass which told me that this was some odd double exposure effect where some of the creek exposure was coming through this image.

~ Jason

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About the author

Avatar - Jason Morrison

I'm a 40-something year old father and photographer who enjoys Mexican food and debating the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse.

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  1. Great to see some shots from a fellow “620” shooter 😀 I recently got a Kodak Junior 620 folding camera from my girlfriend as a birthday gift. It has an Anastigmat 105mm f7,7 lens. I similarly did some youtube research and found I had to modify the 120 spool to make it fit in my camera. I modified the spool’s diameter and length with a nailclipper and sand paper respectivley. It felt kinda sketchy but actually worked like a charm. I used an original 620 spool as takeup and fit the modified 120 at the start. I was very nervous handing it over to the lab but the results were actually pretty good. No light leaks and decent exposures overall. Pretty stunned by the quality for a camera from the early 40s. Such a fun camera for travel and landscape photography. It actually weighs less than my Nikon F2 with a 50mm lens and significantly less than my other medium format camera, the rolleiflex xD

  2. I’m happy to see these. I had a Tourist of this spec many years ago and I wasn’t happy with the images it returned. I thought it might be me, or just a bad example of this camera. Nope: it’s this camera, period.

  3. My mother purchased this camera in 1951 while she was visiting with my father in Anchorage, Alaska.
    I have the camera and since it purchase and like most cameras, only had a few rolls of film was run through it, including photos of me as a baby crawling in the living room in front of our Philco TV, at the park taking my first steps, my sisters’ elementary school May Day Dance and even some early photos of Disneyland that my sister took in 1960. The camera’s still in good shape I even have the flash that come with it. The snapshots my family took weren’t very good, they have the usual problems that people who are inexperience at taking photos, standing too far away from the subject, not holding the camera still, subject way off center. The one thigh I notice is that there’s only one shutter speed on this model, but it does have a few f/stops. I think this was designed for the film at that time with low ISO speed. One day, I might pull it out of the display case and used it.