Camera Kodak Disc 4000 with disc film negative.

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There are a few references to disc cameras in camera books including Brian Coe’s  “Kodak Cameras, the First Hundred Years” and Kodak’s AA publication “The History of Kodak Cameras”.  McKeown’s “Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras 2001-2002″, mentions only two disc camera manufacturers, Kodak and Voigtlander, though there may have been more added in later editions.

In 2011, Precinct Press, the ebook publisher, published a guide to disc cameras which for the first time offers disc camera collectors a comprehensive look at the full range of disc cameras produced in the 1980’s.

Kodak disc cameras, manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, New York, USA, were introduced by in the USA in June 1982 with the Disc 4000, 6000 and 8000 models.  At the same time an international model, the Kodak Disc 2000, was introduced but this was not available in the USA.  All four models reached the UK market in September 1982.

The only film type available for disc cameras was a specially developed ISO 200 colour print film supplied in a flat, plastic cassette.  Each negative measured 8.2mm x 10.6mm.  Each film cassette held 15 images.

Kodak’s high quality disc camera lens, used in their earlier disc cameras, consisted of 4 glass elements with a focal length of 12.5mm at f/2.8, offering a 58° angle of view.  Unlike conventional lenses the second element was an aspheric lens designed to correct spherical aberrations.  An aspheric lens was required for its compact design and fast aperture. Without it, extra lens elements would have been needed, adding to the size.

Although disc cameras were relatively inexpensive, highly automated, lightweight and designed for ease of use, consumers failed to take to them in the way Kodak had hoped.  Images were often described as “acceptable” but never exceptional.

With sales falling, Kodak ceased camera production in 1988, and film production in 1998.

Which disc camera models did Kodak make?

Kodak disc 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000.
Kodak disc 3500, 3100, 4100, 6100.
Kodak disc 3600, Hawkeye disc 7000.
Kodak Medalist I, II, and Tele.  Kodak Tele disc.
Kodak Challenger, Tele Challenger.
Kodak 460, 470 – both premium models.

"Kodak Disc Camera: Kodak Disc 4000"Kodak Disc 4000

The most easily recognised of the Kodak disc cameras, the Kodak Disc 4000 has a four element glass lens f/2.8 12.5mm focusing from 1.2m to infinity.  Automatic exposure.  Push-button shutter.  Shutter speeds 1/200 sec f/6 in daylight and 1/100 sec f/2.8 with flash.

Further features: Automatic film advance.  Sliding lens cover.  Black and silver with yellow marking. Powered by a 6v lithium battery.  Weight 180g.

Variation: some 4000 cameras are known to exist with the logo “photokina koln ’82”. 

Despite the large numbers of retail sales of this camera, it remains enduringly popular with collectors.  Perhaps this is because it was the best known and is remembered with nostalgia. 

It has held its used price at £3-9/US$5-15 for the last ten years and this would be its current average estimated value.  Average estimated value of the Photokina variation: £30-90/US$60-150.

Acknowledgement: copyrighted information from the “Guide to the 1980’s Disc Camera” included here with the permission of the author.

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