The Kodak Ektramax is a fine 110 camera in the Kodak Pocket Instamatic format. Its f1.9 aspheric lens is quite remarkable in the overall 110 lineup. See, for example:

'Ektramax' at


I acquired a fully working Ektramax today, so I revisted and now revised an old memo. I had received a full-kit Ektramax a while back with a defective flash unit. I wanted to use reloaded film carts. Not wanting to tear into the flash unit without making sure it would work with reloaded 16mm film, I tested its film advance/shutter mechanism.

When advancing 16mm with the film perfs down, the camera sometimes 'catches' (irregularly!) at mid-stroke and won't advance to permit the shutter to trigger; it just locks up. For some reason I've not been able to figure out, this camera would not function with regular 16mm reloads (perf down), which usually can be made useful by exposing a frame, advancing a frame and triggering the shutter with the lens covered once or twice, and then making the desired exposure. A remedy was needed to use reloaded film.

Located at the left end of the frame is a movable small pin positioned to engage the 110 film perforations as the film is transported between frames. Immediately left of this pin is a black plastic piece forming the left edge of the frame, which it turns out is removable. Removing this plastic part allows access to the pin and its spring-loaded mechanism. Removal of the projecting portion of this pin allows the film to be advanced, the shutter triggered, and advanced again without regard to the existence of 110 or 16mm perfs. I popped out this plastic piece (be sure to catch it, don't ask me how I know…) and set it aside.  This exposes the shaft of this pin extending down into the camera and the spring which loads it. I slipped a heavy-duty nail clipper between the frame inside wall and the pin and snipped off the tip such that it never extends into the film path, and replaced the black plastic piece.

The camera was then tested with a piece of scrap 110 film loaded upside down (perfs at the top, not bottom, of the frame) so there weren't any perfs in the normal part of the film path and repeatedly tested through several entire 24 exposure lengths of 16mm/110 film. Only one problem has been discovered thus far. The film advance distance has become insufficient. In the initial advancements, it only advances by less than one full normal frame width, or about two-thirds as far as needed to position the frames between the pre-exposed portions of the normal 110 film. How and why this is so is intriguing, but must be related to another function of the pin that is deleted when the pin is cut as in this experiment. I haven't figured out why. Thus, it would appear that a blank exposure (i.e., with the lens covered) must be made between each actual exposure with this modification.

NOTE: This modification renders the camera inoperable with commercial 110 film, but that is acceptable IF and WHEN the goal is to allow reloading film without the perfs. Therefore, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

And a few other notes.

Microfilm in an Ektramax might not be easy, because of a lack of unequivocal exposure setting info. The Ektramax has 4 or 5 shutter settings depending on film speed set by the cartridge end rib, and no K battery! The 2 AAA batteries are for the flash.

The speeds range from 1/30 to 1/350. The shutter is generally described as of fixed selectable speeds, but with five fixed speeds, 1/30, 1/100, 1/125, 1/175, and 1/350. In this case, the 1/100 shutter speed is given in the instruction booklet for the flash speed with either fast (above 200 ASA) or slow (125 ASA and below) standard films, while 1/350 and 1/175 are for fast and slow films, respectively.

With slow speed cartridges (unnotched end rib) the apertures are given as f8 @ 1/175 for the 'sun' symbol setting, f4 @ 1/125 for the 'EX' setting, f1.9 @ 1/30 for the 'XL' setting, and f1.9 for the flash setting (@ 1/100). I believe it may be worthwhile to test some microfilms at the EX and XL settings, or perhaps at the flash setting with no batteries or inoperative flash. (Note that depth of field for the f1.9 aperture is given as only 6.6 to 10 feet, and 5.6 top 14 feet @ f4, 4 to 64 feet @ f8.) So if an ASA 100 cartridge is used, perhaps ASA 25 film could be used with the slower shutter settings (watch DOF). Even ASA 12 film might possibly be used at the 'XL' setting.

Nanoburger (see Google) has been known to use a piece of darkened film over a light sensor to fake a camera's exposure system. That's not possible here due to the fixed nature of the exposure possibilities.

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