|Kodak Signet 50 |
by John Hufnagel
The Kodak Signet 50 was the fourth model in the Kodak Signet line, introduced (along with the Signet 30) in August of 1957. These two models are nearly identical, the main difference being that the Signet 30 lacks the selenium photocell exposure meter of the Signet 50.
The Signet 50 is a viewfinder camera, it does not have a built in rangefinder. In addition to the viewfinder having a brightline for the 44mm lens and two parallax marks, the viewfinder will also display the word "WIND" when the film needs to be advanced. The advance lever is located on the base plate of the camera; the automatic frame counter and rewind switch are located on the camera's bottom right front. The shutter release is on the right front and a threaded cable release socket is located on the lens barrel. The shutter will not fire unless film is loaded into the camera. The body is made from bakelite, with metal inserts, fittings, and attached plates. The left side of the camera contains the usual Kodalite flash holder attachment points. The selenium exposure meter is calibrated for ASA speed via a dial on the right top plate; the meter needle reads out directly in exposure values (EVs). As in many cameras using the EV system, the lens' exposure value scale is on the bottom of the lens and is set via the spring-loaded aperture ring. After releasing that ring the shutter and aperture rings are locked together so that one can change the two settings without altering the exposure value setting.
The Signet 50, like many of the American made Kodak cameras of the period, is a pleasure to use. The controls are mostly straight forward and the viewfinder is, in a word, excellent. The front element focusing Ektanar lens, while only composed of 3 elements, is capable of surprisingly good results. This is due to it having at least one element containing thorium oxide, which has high refractivity and low dispersion, not unlike today's highly touted ED/LD/UD glasses. Like many of Kodak's better lenses of this period, the lens is somewhat radioactive.
In production from August 1957 to October 1960, the camera originally sold for a list price of $82.50 USD (app. $623 USD in 2007).
Details of Kodak Signet 50 Camera
The following information is taken directly from the original camera manual.
Lens: Kodak Ektanar, 44mm f/2.8, Lumenized
Lens Openings: f/2.8 to f/22
Shutter: Kodak Synchro 250 - Automatically cocked when film is advanced. Double-Exposure prevention.
Speeds: 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, and B
Film: 35mm Body Release: Right front of camera
Flash: Built-in synchronization, use No. 5 or 25, and M-2 bulbs to 1/30 second. Electronic flash (X-synchronized) at all shutter speeds
Exposure value numbers: 5 to 17
Focusing Range: 2 1/2 feet to infinity.
Viewfinder: Optical, projected viewframe type.
Construction: Single stroke lever film advance, easy drum-type loading, automatic exposure counter, and exposure cards.
- History of Kodak Cameras at www.kodak.com