Note: I started this post in May 2018, hence the date, but I just finished editing it and adding the picture. It is quite long overdue.
Instamatics are possibly among the most commonly found film cameras in charities here in the United Kingdom. If a charity sells cameras, there’s a 90% chance you’ll find an Instamatic somewhere.
Although the name itself might lead to the idea of an instant camera (much like the Polaroid), in reality no Instamatic model worked with self-developing film (these were the Kodamatics). They were designed as a line of inexpensive, easy-to-use compact point and shoot cameras, that accepted 126 and 110 film. Most models had no setting control at all, with a few exceptions.
The first model was the Instamatic 100, a camera which used 126 film cartridges, which costed around 15-16 US$ (in 1963). It accepted AG-6 flash bulbs which were powered by a couple AAA batteries. The only setting available was whether to use the flash or not.
Several models came out, later models replacing the flash bulbs with flashcubes and magicubes (thus, removing the need for batteries).
The model I purchased online is the Pocket Instamatic 100, a 110-film camera that was produced in the early seventies.
The Pocket Instamatic 100
It took me a while to find out some specs for this camera, but finally I found the Kodak Classics website, so I managed to get hold of some numbers. This camera offers a fixed 25mm triplet lens, with an aperture of f/11. Shooting time is 1/60s (unchangable) and there is the option of using a Magicube flash, if the lighting is insufficient. Inside the package there is the camera itself, a Magicube extender (an adapter that raises the Magicube a bit so it is not too close to the lens) and a lanyard. The original package also provided a blank roll of 110 Kodak film and the instructions booklet.
It is a plastic beauty, quite small and compact (the dimensions are …). The lens is protected by a sliding panel, that also unlocks the camera when opened. There is also a lever to operate the film advance on the bottom, which also rotate the Magicube slot by one quarter of a turn (a Magicube has four bulbs).
It’s a very simple and compact design, but it’s quite fun to use. 110 Film is still produced by few companies, including Lomography who also process and scan it through their LOMO Lab service.
There are some pictures I snapped in Krakow, Poland with the Pocket Instamatic: