The Kodak Extralite 400 camera was made in Stuttgart, Germany between 1981 and 1987. It was one of a range of cameras designed to use Kodak 110 film cartridges. These cartridges were introduced in the 1970s to simplify the loading of film into cameras. There was an element of skill needed to load roll film into cameras, but film cartridges were designed to simply drop into the camera.

The model shown would have originally have been sold in a box together with a suitable film cartridge, the carrying strap, instructions and a sheet of letters from which three could be chosen to stick to a recess on the camera to personalise it. Note that the camera shown features the initials MJS, no doubt the initials of the original owner. This camera had the advantage of a built-in flash, so there would also have been a pair of AAA batteries. These were expected to give about 120 flashes before expiring. The battery compartment is located on the rear of the camera and is accessed via a slider marked with an arrow.

To operate the camera the hinged cover needs to be lifted until it becomes a handle to help keep the camera steady. When closed the handle covers and protects the lens and the shutter release button. Closing the case also automatically switches off the flash. With the camera open the film can be inserted by sliding a catch on the camera back. After the film cassette has been dropped in and the door closed the film can be advanced by a slider until it stops and number one appears in the window. The film cartridges would be monochrome, or colour negative with standard or high speed formats.

The camera features a fixed focus Kodak Reomar f6.8, 24mm lens, so the camera is simple to operate. The only choice to make is between a daylight or flash setting, which is chosen by moving a slider between a sun and a flash symbol. As the focus cannot be changed objects to be photographed should be no closer than 1.4 metres (4 feet). The flash needs to be used for all indoor photographs or in dull weather or shade. The camera is ready to take flash pictures when the ready light on the top starts to blink.

The film automatically advances after a picture is taken. After the last exposure the wind-on slider has to be operated several times until it stops, at which point the cartridge can be removed and is ready for processing.

These cameras were popular due to their size and simplicity, but the size of the negatives,13 x 17 mm, was such that only prints of no more than 5″ by 7″ were of reasonable quality, so 35mm cameras started to replace them.

More information:

Date 1980s
Material(s) PlasticMetalGlass
Item number MBPO224

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Have you ever owned or used a pocket camera? If so where and when?
  • Do you agree that it was simple to use?
  • Did such cameras produce good results? Can you give examples?
  • Where would the film cartridges have been processed?

User Stories

Cameras such as these are now collectors items or museum pieces. They were not only superseded by 35mm cameras but later by digital cameras. However, many people will have enjoyed using them for taking simple snaps.

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