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Mysterious Kodak Ektra Neverready case
Old 01-19-2018   #1
Dez
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Mysterious Kodak Ektra Neverready case

The amazing Ektra was Kodak's cost-is-no-object worldbeater design back in 1941, designed to show that whatever Leitz and Zeiss could do, the American camera industry could do better. It was a truly amazing camera, with a long list of "firsts", some of them never again attained in later camera designs.
In fact it had so many features that every surface of the camera had some kind of knob, lever, or button control on it. This makes for a beautiful mechanical rhapsody, but making a case for a device like that is really tricky.

Top by John Desmond, on Flickr

Front by John Desmond, on Flickr

Bottom by John Desmond, on Flickr

Back by John Desmond, on Flickr

The most commonly found Ektra case is a large, roughly cubical leather box that houses the camera with a 35 or 50mm lens plus one interchangeable back, and a film or two.

Box by John Desmond, on Flickr

The top has compartments for filters and other series 5/6 gadgets needed for the Ektra lenses. It's useful, but cumbersome, and is really more of a gadget bag than a camera case.
Another case, which is pretty scarce but shows up occasionally, is a beautifully-made triangular leather affair, with strap lugs carefully positioned to facilitate dropping the unsecured camera on the ground.

Triangle Case by John Desmond, on Flickr

This is a real camera case, but tricky to use safely.
It turns out that these two lovely pieces of leatherwork weren't enough for the Kodak folks, though, and they came up with the most intricate everready case I have ever seen. I have owned Ektras on and off for over 30 years, and I was completely unaware of the existence of this case, until I saw a beat-up piece of junk on ebay a month ago that could only be designed to fit an Ektra. A bit of glue and patience got it sorted out, resulting in what has to be an exceedingly rare piece of photo equipment.

The case has so many openings allowing access to controls that it couldn't just be leather. The main part of the case is made of sheet steel, with leather coverings. The bottom has a longitudinal hinge allowing the case to open like a clamshell, necessary to put the camera in the front portion of the case and secure it with a 1/4" tripod screw.

Case Open by John Desmond, on Flickr

Case Side by John Desmond, on Flickr

The camera strap clips onto the lugs, holding the clamshell together. A leather front cover snaps onto the back of the case. All controls are accessible, and it is just barely possible to interchange film backs without removing the camera from the case.

Front Cased by John Desmond, on Flickr

Back Cased by John Desmond, on Flickr

Complete Case by John Desmond, on Flickr

If anyone has some information on this very unusual accessory, I would love to hear about it.
For information on the truly amazing Kodak Ektra camera, I refer you to the Head Bartender's very informative article.

https://cameraquest.com/ektra.htm

Cheers,
Dez
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Old 02-19-2018   #2
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Well, you certainly can't say "There ain't enough buttons on it for the money!"
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Old 02-19-2018   #3
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Wow—that's extraordinary. Thanks for posting all this!
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Old 02-19-2018   #4
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Now that I'd like to come across at a yard sale (the whole outfit, actually). Since they are reported to have bad shutters, as per the Camera Quest site, it shows that Kodak started shooting themselves in the foot a lot sooner than I had imagined.

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Old 02-19-2018   #5
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Some of those dials are mysterious in themselves. The one with the red numbers I guess could be a slow speed dial. And the one with a 1-2-3-3-2-1? I have no idea what that does. And It seems to have two film exposure counters, apparently one is there in case you need to read the exposure number from the bottom. And the one that goes from 50 to 254? What can that be?

Curiouser and curiouser!
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Old 02-20-2018   #6
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Mysterious indeed! The dial with the red numbers is the slow speed dial, set to the black 0 to use fast speeds; the 1 2 3 dial is diopter correction for the RF; the frame counter on the bottom is for the detachable magazine, and is manually set. Last but certainly not least, the 50-254 dial is to set the focal length of the zoom viewfinder, which is focused by turning the bezel around the VF eyepiece. To use the 35 mm lens, set the zoom to 50, and clip a little accessory onto the VF bezel on the front.
See? Nothing to it!

All Ektra stuff, including many odd accessories, is hard to find, but the case appears to be a real rarity.

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Dez
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Old 02-20-2018   #7
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Wow! That clears it all up!
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Old 02-20-2018   #8
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Oh yes, one more cool feature. It doesn’t have a rewind button or lever. There is a folding rewind crank on the bottom. When you fold it out it engages the cassette and disengages the sprocket drive. Slick!

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Dez
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Old 02-20-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
Now that I'd like to come across at a yard sale (the whole outfit, actually). Since they are reported to have bad shutters, as per the Camera Quest site, it shows that Kodak started shooting themselves in the foot a lot sooner than I had imagined.

PF
They are often found in yard sales, right beside the pristine Model Tís and the 1938 Harley Knuckleheads.
It took me 20 years to find the very scarce 153mm lens with a three-digit price tag.

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Dez
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Old 02-20-2018   #10
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Knuckleheads are dime a dozen compared to the Henderson Excelsior I plan(hope) to find at someone's rummage sale!
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Old 02-21-2018   #11
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Very interesting camera, I see a lot of similarities with my Medalist II. Film indicator wheel looks identical for instance. Too bad about the shutters. How's yours working Dez?
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Old 02-23-2018   #12
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I believe the Medalist was designed by the same person.
So far so good with the shutter. I did have to clean the slow speed mechanism a couple years ago: access is surprisingly easy.

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Dez
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Old 02-23-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
I believe the Medalist was designed by the same person.
So far so good with the shutter. I did have to clean the slow speed mechanism a couple years ago: access is surprisingly easy.

Cheers,
Dez


Is there a camera repair tech that specialises in the Ektra? Mine is beautiful, but the shutter failed quite a while ago after a short but tantalising period of working fine.
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Old 02-23-2018   #14
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If they are still in business, Photography on Bald Mountain was the place to go.
The mechanism is complex, and the curtains are of different widths.

Good luck!
Dez
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