Back in 2000, when I was making some feeble attempts to get into medium format, I had a few choices regarding cameras suitable for a beginner. Obviously, one of the best was the Rolleiflex TLR, but the cost and the purpose of buying an expensive camera put me off this excellent piece of technology.
I borrowed a Seagull 4A from a friend of mine, and while it was an interesting one, introducing me in the field of the TLR’s, found it a bit bulky (I bought one a bit later, and really used it, don’t you know). Then, in 2001, visited a shop in Brighton, while on a weekend break. There, a neat and very portable Kodak 66 folder was just waiting for me. Cheap and in good condition, looked nice, so I got it for the price of a couple of Stella’s.
Actually, this camera is the 2nd model (model II) of the Kodak 66’s line, produced between 1958 and 1960. From what I’ve learned, it was Kodak’s only post-war folder for type 120 film; there was never a model I, and this model II was followed by model III. Anyways, this 75mm lens is a Kodak Anaston 6.3, and this is one of the two lenses that came with the model, the other being 4.5.
The shutter speeds are not in abundance (B, 1/25, 1/75, 1/200), but this is ok if you use the right film, I guess; the whole thing is set in a Vario clockwork. Apertures range from 6.3 to 22, but if you take the slider beyond 22 it gives what I believe to be an even smaller opening (I tried it and, functionally, it does go beyond 22). The camera takes (obviously) 120 film, and it shoots it in 12 frames, in 6×6 format.
Focus is by distance, in feet only, assisted by a telescopic viewfinder: closest is at 3.5 up to 50 and infinity. My distance dial is a bit stiff but that is good, seeing that another folder I have (a Welta Weltix) has a very mobile focusing ring, and sometimes it has a mind of its own, when I accidentally touch it.
Strut wise, it is an excellent mechanism, and it extends by itself upon the push of the button. The bellows are in good condition, and I do hope they stay the same in the future, for I’ll probably never get it sent to be repaired.
The top plate sports the release button (red), which is very comfortable. The cold shoe and strut releasing button is next to the shoe, and of course there two knobs for winding and rewinding the film. A metal plate tells you what camera you have in your hand.
I must say this: simple as it obviously is, this Kodak 66 is a real pleasure to use. It is light, it is pocketable, it give you 12 frames on medium format film, it has simple settings that in no way, shape or manner can obstruct you to take good photographs, with the proper film and in the right conditions of course. One thing that this camera is not though, it is not a all-go-round camera. It has its moments and quirks, but how enjoyable it is nonetheless.