Kodak EK4 Instant Camera

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    Manufactured between 1976 and 1978 by Eastman Kodak Co. The EK4 and it’s motorized cousin, the EK6, were introduced when Kodak entered the instant film market. It a vertically oriented body with a folded optical path using internal mirrors. It has a 137mm f/11 lens that has it’s focusing marked in both zones and feet/meters. It used a Flipflash on the top and used a “J pack” 6V battery to power the auto exposure system. A hand crank to eject the photos and you watched them develop in front of you similar to the Polaroid SX-70—however, the Kodak instant film (later called “Colorburst”) was of a rectangular format instead of square.

    So, this is the camera that eventually led to the largest patent infringement lawsuit and judgment in history. Despite what anyone says, the Kodak system was good—very good. Good enough to take about 30% of Polaroid’s market almost overnight. So, the same year it was introduced, Polaroid brought a patent infringement lawsuit against Kodak. It weaved through the courts for years and finally on September 13th, 1985, Polaroid finally prevailed and Kodak had to remove all the film and cameras from the market immediately and compensate Polaroid and consumers. (See: www.patents.com/apl/kodak1.pdf#search="kodak instant camera patent infringe" ) The $925 million judgment is still the largest patent infringement award to date. Although Polaroid eventually won the lawsuit, weak management and the explosive growth of digital cameras finally did them in. In 2001, Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Polaroid brand is now owned by a Minnesota-based holding company. And Kodak? They embraced digital early (actually, Kodak is credited with the very first digital camera prototype made in the 1970’s), and after a rocky time themselves seem to be back on a long term track…

    Note: In the Kodak settlement, owners of the instant cameras were required that you sent in the front name plate (peeled off the camera) to obtain either coupons for non-instant Kodak cameras or one share of Kodak stock—you can decide which was the better deal. But to a collector, a camera without it’s nameplate is worthless, so if you have one laying around that way, it’s time to let go—there will never be film for it, it takes up too much space....just throw it away…

    See also: www.rwhirled.com/landlist/nonland.htm

    fotonomous, `fs1n, dastiz, nicolosko, and 12 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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    1. time for a new beginning [deleted] 97 months ago | reply

      So they are worth money as a collectors item? I'm tossing up whether to list my EK6 - it's not exactly useful to me with no film stock available!

      Seen in your Camera Collection set. (?)

    2. Capt Kodak 97 months ago | reply

      @the wolf brigade: "If" your camera still has the nameplate and "if" there's a collector who wants it. And even given those big "if's", I'll bet the shipping costs more than what you'll get for it.

      The die hard collector (I guess I'm one!) will want one just for the history of it. Now, for one of value see here: www.flickr.com/photos/mfobrien/276910162/

    3. time for a new beginning [deleted] 97 months ago | reply

      Yeah mine is in really good nick. Has the nameplate etc, and an empty film pack in the film compartment. You can have mine if you like, for the shipping costs. I've sent a flickrmail with my location in case you're interested.

    4. arice1 92 months ago | reply

      I still have prints taken with one of these. I'll have to check and see how much fading has taken place over the last 30 years.

    5. laika_one 91 months ago | reply

      actually you can get film for it... from Japan. it's called Fujifilm FI-800GT

    6. Capt Kodak 91 months ago | reply

      @laika_one: Ha! Gotta love any film that requires a wire cutters to use! [grin] Great info--thanks!

    7. time for a new beginning [deleted] 91 months ago | reply

      Still doesn't solve the battery problem though....

      Seen in my recent comments. (?)

    8. laika_one 91 months ago | reply

      Wolf brigade: I dunno about the ek4, but my ek6 takes two 6volt "J" size batteries. I assume it would probably be the same? you can still get those brand new from Amazon.com, amongst several other sites. or if you've got a specialty battery shop in your area, can't hurt to hit them up. :)

      Capt Kodak: Cheers, I can't wait to get ahold of some myself to try it out ^^, it's not exactly cheap though, for a poor-arse student like myself.

    9. laika_one 91 months ago | reply

      Care to add this to the Kodak Instant Cameras! group?

    10. Capt Kodak 91 months ago | reply

      @laika_one: Done! (And thanks for pointing the group out.)

    11. YOUR EVENTS 72 months ago | reply

      i have it ! i bought it in Portugal for 10 euros... and it work, but i don't have the film :(

    12. thisoneisbroken 65 months ago | reply

      bummer about the film. i just found an EK4 while cleaning out my parents' closet.

    13. fishy. 64 months ago | reply

      Do you know where you can get film for this? It's such a shame! I really don't like the new instax :(

    14. HaarFager (Pro) 56 months ago | reply

      Ah, that explains why the Kodak Handle I found downtown at the local antique store has a missing nameplate. I don't remember what I did with my Handle back in the day. I think the crank broke off and I got rid of it long before the settlement days.

    15. oscarfoxtrot 51 months ago | reply

      As I remember, Kodak paid $10 for the return of the name plate or $10 in credit on Kodak products

    16. fakoman 32 months ago | reply

      I had an EK6. Beautiful machine. Much, much better than Polaroid. I found one of the pictures I took of my siblings and scanned it on my Epson perfection. I am impressed at the detail and reality of the colors and how well it has survived over 30 years. It looks better than regular photographs taken at that time. Kodak EK-6 Photograph

    17. Hans Kerensky 30 months ago | reply

      On behalf of Camera-Wiki :
      Thanks for adding your image to the Camera-wiki group !

      It appears here in Camera-wiki :
      and here :

    18. HaarFager (Pro) 30 months ago | reply

      Fakoman, that image you posted sure has held up to the test of time! Thanks for sharing it!

    19. Capt Kodak 30 months ago | reply

      @HaarFager: I, too, have some photos taken back when I use to sell these (has it been 30 years?!?!? Yikes!) and they still look like the day they were shot. With 'modern' Polaroids (and especially the Impossible Project films) they suggest you 'peel' the film to make the image last the longest. You're separating the chemistry used for development, etc. from the final pigmented image--and removing those chemical's effects on those pigments. Think about it--Kodak was already doing that 30 years ago! Not only did their film actually expose from the back (unlike the Polaroid integral films), but they came up with the ability to 'peel' the final image from the backing as a normal thing to do with the finished print! It's still such a shame that Polaroid sued over using pinch rollers to spread chemistry and shut this whole camera line and it's technology down. It was good stuff!

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