In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Instamatic range of cameras from Kodak were very popular and were responsible for many people trying photography as a hobby and progressing onto more advanced models. As well as still cameras, Kodak also made a similar range in cine cameras, and this post takes a brief look at one of those models, the Instamatic M2 cine camera.
Kodak Instamatic M2 cine camera images
My Instamatic M2 Cine Camera
This cine camera was bought for me by my Mother from a charity shop in Fakenham in Norfolk.
A couple of years ago, when she discovered that I sometimes find vintage cameras in charity shops, she toured her home town charity shops and bought up all the cameras they had in case there were any important or valuable ones. In truth, the majority of them were plastic 35mm point-n-shoot units of the type very popular in the 1990s, but amongst them, I discovered what I thought was a twin lens reflex camera in a tall rectangular leather case. On closer inspection, it turned out to be this Instamatic M2 cine camera, which has a case which takes both the camera and a spare film cartridge.
Although the camera had not been used in decades, once I fitted a set of AA batteries in the compartments underneath the lens and pressed the button on the top it sprang to life and started up.
The general condition of the unit is pretty good with no dents or chips in the case although, without running a film through it I can’t vouch for the condition of the camera shutter and lens.
Instamatic M2 Cine Camera Description
The Instamatic M2 is a very simple unit with only two controls for the cinematographer to worry about. The lens aperture is set with a dial around the lens and there is a button on the top of the camera which starts filming.
As can be seen from the pictures above and here to the left, the unit has a rather brick like appearance, with a door on one side for the film cartridge and another on the opposite side for the 4 AA batteries which power it.
An exposure guide is printed on the side of the battery compartment door for Kodachrome II film, which would have been the typical film users of the camera would use. The guide shows a series of weather icons, and a corresponding aperture adjustment to set for each.
One thing I noticed when looking at the aperture settings was the very odd shape of the iris which makes up the aperture – it’s not circular at all, but just a narrow ‘v’ shape which is rotated in front of the film to reduce the amount of light hitting the film. This was obviously done to reduce the cost of making the camera and indicates the entry level nature of the Instamatic range.
Although I don’t have a film to run through the camera and didn’t really want to spend more than £50 buying one and having it processed, I did find a video on youtube which was taken by an example of the M2 in 2014. The link to watch that is here.
It’s somewhat interesting that although the still instamatic cameras were vastly more popular than the cine cameras in the range, you can still buy Super 8 film cartridges with either black & white or colour negative film. In that way this Instamatic camera has survived the years rather better than it’s 126 format still film cousins!
Instamatic M2 Cine Camera Specifications
- Instamatic M2 Cine Camera
- Super 8 cartridge film
- Aperture adjustable from f/2.2 to f/23
- Oddly shaped iris
- Battery operated via 4 AA cells
- Simple optical viewfinder
- Manual exposure
- Simple rocker switch with lock
- Tripod bush on bottom of unit
- Simple film remain indicator