One of the best and most economical ways to enter into Medium Format photography is to acquire one of the many vintage folder cameras available on the used market.   These can be found on auction sites such as EBay and in your local thrift store or swap meet.  Ansco, Agfa, and Kodak produced millions of affordable folders that featured negatives ranging from 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm and 6x9cm.  Many of these included basic optics and bare-bones features.  Spend more and excellent folders from Voightlander and Ziess Ikon can be acquired with superior optics, full range of shutter speeds and high-quality craftsmanship.  But if you’re like me, budget is the key word and there are plenty of inexpensive, “classic” cameras available for using and collecting.  The Kodak Tourist is one such camera.  This was one of the last in a long line of Kodak folders produced during the first half of the century.  The Tourist is not the best quality Kodak folder, however it did have a wide range of optical options and was well constructed, not too heavy and easy to use.  Not to mention a huge 6x9cm negative.  There is no rangefinder on this model, however the higher-end Tourist II did feature one.

Lenses on the original Tourist ranged from the simple Kodet f/12 and f/8 to the better Anaston f/6.3 and f/4.5 with the Tesser type Anastar f/4.5 topping the list.  Shutters ranged from the Flash 200, Flash Kodamatic shutter, and the Flash Supermatic shutter respectively.  This particular model is just one step down from the top of the line, featuring the coated, Anaston f/4.5 and Flash Kodamatic shutter, a seventy dollar camera in 1948.  The camera body itself is well made.  Its sturdy metal construction and solid struts allow for steady picture taking.  The only plastic part of the camera is the viewfinder shroud on top that extends the width of the camera, but this is hard rigid plastic that can take a beating.  With just a simple glass viewfinder (larger on the Anaston and Anastar models), focus must be done using the distance dial and scale on the front of the camera. The lens base opens to the right when looking through the viewfinder not down as with many folder cameras of this type.  Kodak has placed a molded shutter release button on the top of the lens base with a linkage that connects to the shutter release on the lens barrel.  Just push the molded black release button which is now conveniently near your right index finger and the shutter is tripped on the barrel.  The Agfa Speedex B2 has a similar configuration.  The aperture can be set with a dial on the front of the lens barrel and shutter speeds are controlled with a knurled ring around the barrel face.  The Tourist also includes a connection for external flash and a synch lever.  There is even an accessory hot shoe connector for such extras as the optional rangefinder or flash attachment.  The back can be removed completely and features a simple exposure guide.  Determine the correct exposure by selecting film type, subject lighting and exterior lighting such as bright sun, cloudy, etc using the sliding indicators.  Of course the film types listed are older Kodak films and no ASA selection is available so I suspect these default settings are for slower speed films such as ASA 25 or 50.  Finally there is a convenient lever that opens the frame counter window when necessary.


As with many later model Kodak folders, the Tourist and Tourist II take the nearly obsolete 620 roll film.  This film can still be purchased at premium prices through B&H or other online sellers.  120 roll film can also be re-spooled onto the older 620 spool, of course this has to be done in complete darkness. The only difference between 120 and 620 was the diameter of the spool flange; the film is exactly the same.  I usually just cut down the edges of the plastic 120 film spool which will then fit into most Kodak 620 cameras, unfortunately this will not work with the Tourist.  There simply isn’t enough room for anything other than a 620 spool.  Apparently masks were also available for the Tourist to alter negative size.  645, 66 and 67 masks were available, but I’m sure are fairly difficult to find.  A copy of the original manual can be found in the links below.

As with most EBay camera purchases this specimen was filthy.  And like my Kodak 35 Rangefinder the shutter settings were gummed up.  1/25 seemed to be the only shutter speed that functioned and turning the knurled shutter ring was next to impossible.  Some small spots of fungus were also on the lens.  A major cleaning and lubrication was necessary.  Luckily the shutter is exactly the same as the Kodak 35 RF which I had successfully repaired and the coated Anaston lens is similar to the Anastar featured on the Kodak 35 RF.  To remove the lens I like to use the rubber stoppers that are available through micro-tools.com, these are inexpensive and don’t harm the metal or glass.  There are two tiny screws on the side of the focus ring that must be loosened first.  Don’t remove these as they are hard to find if dropped.  Once loose the focus ring can be separated from the front lens element.  Then remove the rear element from inside the camera. Once this is done only the center element is left.  I carefully flooded the shutter ring with Rosonal lighter fluid and began gently turning the ring back and forth.  It quickly loosened up and then I began to work the shutter at all speeds.  I then used some M.A.A.S. metal polish on a soft toothbrush and cleaned the front and sides of the lens barrel.  This shined up nicely.  The lens glass was cleaned with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.  I have found this quickly removes any fungus and haze from the lens without harming the coating, if not left on too long.

While the lighter fluid was drying in the shutter assembly I closed the camera and began cleaning the exterior.  Using a soft brush and leather cleaner, the leatherette cleaned up nicely and the shine was brought back to life.  M.A.A.S. polish cleaned up the chrome and Windex worked on the plastic areas including the viewfinder.  After the exterior was dry I opened the camera back up and with a soft toothbrush applied some of the leather cleaner and gently scrubbed the baffles.  The Tourist was constructed with quality baffles and these are still in very good shape, albeit dirty.  I suggest leaving the camera open with the lenses removed for a couple of hours to ensure the shutter assembly dries completely.  Then replace the lens elements.  This may prevent possible clouding.  The camera cleaned up nicely with little effort.

I wouldn’t bother dealing with the issues that occur when using a 620 film camera for anything less than the better lens/shutter combinations in regard to the Kodak Tourist.  The Tourist film housing won’t allow a trimmed 120 plastic spool, so in most cases you will need to respool 120 film onto a 620 spool.   The Anaston and Anastar lenses with at least the 1/400 shutter should only be considered worth purchasing.  I’ve seen auctions go for as little as five dollars but average would be around twenty, higher for the 1/800 shutter combination.  The are fairly heavy cameras so shipping is usually around ten bucks depending on the destination.  As with most cameras verify with the seller that the focus dial turns, the shutter fires when cocked, and if the speeds seem correct.

Eastman Kodak
Kodak 620 Film Cameras
Kodak Tourist
Kodak Camera History
Kodak Cameras
Michael Helms Kodak Museum
Classic Film Sizes

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