Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kodak Signet 35C

An interesting little Rangefinder I was given. 
It is actually a bit of a problem too.  See, the rangefinder portion is buggered!  I don't understand why, either.  The rangefinder and viewfinder do produce an image together, if I point it towards a light source, such as a, well, a light.  I get a great image on image, very easy to focus, and use.  But that's the problem in of itself, it is only when pointed at a light.  For some reason, when I point it, say, at a chair, the image disappears, and I'm left with a viewfinder camera instead.

Not a major issue, as I've gotten quite good at guessing distances, and I don't use this camera in low light, so ƒ/16 is a great way to use it.

it does have a Kodak Standard flash sync port on the side, unfortunately it is synced for "BULB" type flashes only, and does not have X-Sync capabilities. 
The camera, itself, is very rugged and sturdy.  It is made of a single piece of stamped aluminum, and feels like it is built to last a long time.  The shutter is pretty much its weakest link, as that is the item that will fail first.  The lens, I haven't disassembled yet, as I can't figure out WHY I can't pull off the front element retainer.  It is stuck in there good!

Then again, there is little reason to clean this lens, as there is no real dust inside, nor fungus.  The thought of chancing breaking this little camera just doesn't sit well with me, and I think I'll just leave it as is.  The only bit of an oddity that I have with this camera is the backing plate.  It's bright polished aluminum instead of flat black.  A design flaw?  Or does it actually help the photos?  I don't know!  But it doesn't seem to make much difference on the image when properly exposed.  Although, I do think it helps shadow detail.

The shutter is decent, with speeds of 1/25s to 1/300s + "B", more than enough as the lens stops down from ƒ/3.5 to ƒ/22.  Even in the brightest of lights, it'll stop down enough to work with the shutter speeds, even shooting with 400ISO film!

The lens is a Kodak 44mm ƒ/3.5 EKTAR lens.  Their EKTAR line was supposed to be the highest possible line of lenses that they had available.  As it was designed after the older Zeiss Tessar lenses, it is very sharp, and a very capable lens.  Coated for colour correction, is capable of shooting EXCELLENT Chromes.  I very well may have to do that.  Shoot some Chromes with this camera!

The most interesting part of this camera is the slide rule.  Designed to be a simple exposure guide for the (KODAK) film loaded in the camera, and guaged off the lighting conditions present, so you do not require a light meter to get good exposures.  Personally, I feel a light meter is near indispensable, but this slide rule is a great way to guage good exposure.  Mind you, if you do not have an eye for it, then it is a good idea to use a light meter until you can train your eye for the lighting available.

Kodak Signet 35c - 44mm ƒ/3.5 Ektar Lens - Polypan F 50 - HC-110 B 7:30
This is one of those images that surprised me.  The buggy, which I focused on with the help from another camera, is tack sharp while the rest of the water gently softens toward the top of the image.  The highlights are perfectly exposed, not too dark, and not blown out.  The really weird thing is that I'm getting fantastic shadow detail here.  Perhaps there is something to having a polished backing plate!

Kodak Signet 35c - 44mm ƒ/3.5 Ektar Lens - Fuji Superia 400 - ƒ/16 1/300s
This is the image that took me completely by surprise.  The bell is just tack sharp, and perfectly exposed.  Take into account, this is 400ISO consumer grade Fuji Superia.  It is not know for lack of grain, yet here's an image that is perfect.  There is little noticeable grain, except in the sky where it is accented during the scan.
As it was a camera test, I wasn't really holding my hopes up high.  Now, when I use this camera, like the above image of the buggy, I expect the results to be strong, sharp, and very well exposed!

Below image is shot on Polypan F, close focusing at 2 feet.  This was a simple close focusing test of the camera, and to see how well it'll render the out of focus area.  Well, from what I can see, there is no swirly bokeh, but I would like to see how this camera does for potraits.
Kodak Signet 35c - 44mm ƒ/3.5 Ektar Lens - Polypan F 50 - HC-110 B 7:30


  1. I have been on the look out for one of these. Hopefully I'll come across one this summer when I hit the sales and antique shops. Because of the issues these often have with the shutter I'd like to get one that I can look at first rather then trust Ebay. I have read that the shutter is where Kodak decided to economize on this camera.

  2. That us very true. The shutter sticks on mine from time to time.. I have to fix the rangefinder again, it is our of alignment again, moving must have knocked it out..
    The design and construction right down to the lens is great.. Shutter.. Yeah not so much
    Good luck in your hunt. Great camera

  3. Weak rangefinder is caused by a weak beam splitter, easy fix. There is also a way to convert the shutter to x-synch.

  4. I need to do a reblog of this camera, as I have done some work to it. It now has X-Sync and I have an excellent patch for the rangefinder using some B&W film (Ilford Delta100) over the viewfinder window which increases the contrast JUST enough.