Kodak Ektra 1941

Tomei Collection

This Ektra was purchased from the original owner who had received it as a gift from her husband in 1941.  They were living in Arizona and her husband was a physicist working on weapons development.  The body is serial number 2546 built in 1941.  The lens has a very early designation as a Kodak Anastigmat Ektar 50mm f/1.9 and is engraved on the rear of the barrel with EY 1039. This dates the build to 1940, predating the actual market introduction of the camera.  Other similar lenses built between 1940 and 1948 did not carry the "anastigmat" name and were simply called Kodak Ektar.


The Ektra camera was an extraordinarily high precision camera. Much information is available due to the fact that this model represented a milestone for Kodak as well as the state of technology immediately before WWII.  Although they were available from 1941 through 1948, only about 2000 were produced according to Brian Coe. This was partially due to their high price, complexity, rather odd ergonomics, and unfortunate lack of reliability.


The list of novel features introduced in the Ektra is very long. The f/1.9 50mm lens mounted on this example is dual range focusing from infinity to about 3 ft, or at the flip of a button located on the side of the lens mount, it becomes a macro lens focusing down to about 15 inches. A full range of lenses were available each coming in a heavy aluminum screw-top container.