The Signet 35 was the top dog in the Kodak 35mm line following WW2, this beautiful all metal rangefinder had it’s top lens, the Ektar mounted on the front, a shutter that could go up to 1/300″ and an accessory shoe. This was the snapshot camera for the wealthy and the elite, and today it works as great as it looks. The Signet 35 like many other Kodak cameras of the day was designed by their top designer, Arthur H Crapsey. I was loaned this camera again by Mike Bitaxi to review and I was actually really happy with the results I got out of it!
Model: Signet 35
Type: 35mm Rangefinder
Lens: Fixed, Kodak Ektar 44mm f/3.5
Years Manufactured: 1951-1957
This is a solid, all American camera, cast aluminium body, legendary Kodak optics, and a full out coupled rangefinder. First off the lens, I’ve worked with Ektar lenses on 4×5 cameras, both the 203mm f/7.7 and 127mm f/4.7 with amazing results, so when I saw Ektar I knew I would get beautiful images with wonderful out of focus elements as well, and it didn’t disappoint. And well it’s only f/3.5 at the wide open, it’s still plenty fast compared to the cheaper models that Kodak had at the time. Next up a rangefinder, in an age of fixed focus and guess focus camera on the consumer side having a coupled rangefinder was great, easy to focus and use even with the age of the camera made composing shots nice and easy.
There are a couple issues with this camera especially for a modern photographer. The first is that the shutter is designed for use only with flash bulbs nativly. Or M-Synced, whereas modern electronic flashes are X-Synced. Without some modification you’ll need to find a flash unit and flash bulbs which are becoming more rare on the used market and have jumped up in price. Next personally is the shutter release, the ‘button’ above the release catch doesn’t really hit the catch that well and I was forced to dig around to find it. I ended up using a release cable to trip the shutter. I would have gone in and tried to fix it but as the camera was on loan, I didn’t want to break anything or damage something.
The Low Down
This would make a solid camera for a Korean War reenactment impression, a wealthy officer, or a well off private soldier even to shoot around a camp during an event without breaking the impression over all. Plus you’d get top notch images of your army buddies in kit that fit with the period. Coupled with Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5, you’d be well on your way to having nice historical images. For the average person, if you’re looking for classic American style, with excellent build quality and second only to German optics, then the Signet is for you.
Photos shot at Sheridan College, Trafalgar Road Campus, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Kodak Signet 35 – Kodak Ektar Lens 44mm f/3.5 – Ilford HP5+ @ Approx. ASA-200
Ilfod Ilfosol 3 (1+9) 5:00 @ 20C