Things to consider when buying a used carousel slide projector.

Kodak Carousel Projector Buyers Guide
by: Curt Fargo (Kodak Factory Trained Technician)

First and foremost, if you are considering buying a Kodak Carousel Slide Projector, you need to plan on repairing it yourself or paying to have it repaired, if it doesn’t come with at least a 90-day warranty. Sellers on eBay love to say that “tested, it works” where in reality, quite often they only plugged it in, turned it on and the light came on. If they really believe that it is a good running projector, they will give you a warranty of at least 90 days. There are plastic parts in ALL Kodak Carousel Projectors that if they haven’t failed already, will fail very shortly. These parts are not failing due to use, but because they were made with old technology plastics and are failing due to old age. The pre-1981 models typically have four parts that need replaced. The post-1981 models have less, but still have some plastic parts failing.

Repairing these projectors doesn’t take rocket science, but it does take a good mechanical aptitude. The parts that commonly fail are still available through www.Micro-Tools.com/kodak. Figure that parts will cost you around $25 where a repair by a professional will cost around $125 plus shipping. Micro-Tools even offers the repair guide for the 1964-1981 series of projectors as a free download. They also have many of Kodak’s factory service manuals free to download.

Projectors that we do recommend looking at

Our first choice would be either the 750H, 760H, 850H or 860H (not the “Custom” models). These projectors will hold up longer, as their housing/case is metal. These also use the ELH lamp that is readily available and not too expensive. Please note that the model number MUST have an “H” in it. This series of projectors use the 300-watt ELH lamp instead of the predecessor (Non “H”) using the 500-watt DEK lamp. The 500-watt lamp took a lot more air to cool it, so the fan had to run faster, therefore “H” stands for “hush” as these projectors with the 300-watt lamps are quieter due to less fan noise.

Our second choice would be one of the 4400, 4600, 5200, 5400 or 5600. Yes, these are newer than our first choice, but their main cases/housing are made of plastic. This makes them not as robust as the “H” series of projectors. If you get one of the earliest versions of these, they had a lamp module that was a safety/burn hazard. If the door for the lamp module stays attached to the projector when the module is removed, the lamp module needs to be replaced with the newer series of module. People were burning themselves when removing the module. The Medalist AF model is essentially the same as the 4600, The Medalist I model is essentially the same as the 5200 and the Medalist II is essentially the same as the 5600.

Here is a chart of the projectors we recommend and their features.

Model

Remote
Focus

Auto
Focus

Timer

Built In

Screen

Years
Manufactured

750H*

 

 

 

1972-1981

760H*

 

 

 

1972-1981

850H

 

1972-1981

860H

 

1972-1981

4400

 

 

 

1981-2004

4600/
Medalist AF

 

 

 

1981-2004

5200/
Medalist I

 

 

1981-2004

5400

 

1981-2004

5600*/
Medalist II

1981-2004

*Our Favorites

 

Projectors we DO NOT recommend and why

  • 550 & 570: No parts available
  • 600, 650, 700, 750, 760, 800, 850 & 860: These projectors use the expensive, hard to find, DEK lamp. They are older and noisier than the “H” series.
  • 600H & 650H: No remote focus or autofocus, too basic.
  • 800H Custom, 840H Custom, 850H Custom and 860H Custom: All of the “Custom” models have fragile plastic side panels that like to break, and their main housing/case is plastic. These projectors can be easily identified by the fake woodgrain side panels.
  • 4000 & 4200: No remote focus or autofocus, too basic.
  • XXX-K models: These models, whose model number end in a “K”, were designed for domestic and international use (multi frequency 50/60hz). They have extra components that make them heavy, more complex and there are limited parts available.
  • Ektagraphic (All Models): These were designed for commercial use and quite often were run to death. Lots of metal parts would fail due to their extended use. If you could find one that wasn’t run into the ground, it would be just as good if not better than a regular carousel version, but since there is no hour meter on them, you can’t tell. If you are considering an Ektagraphic model, the AF-2 & AF-3 are only pre-1981 models I would consider since they used the ELH lamp. The Ektagraphic III models (post-1981) tell you their features right in the model number.  “A” stand for Auto Focus, “T” stands for Timer, “M” stands for Manual Focus and “S” stands for screen. As an example, an “Ektagraphic III AMT” has Auto Focus, Manual Focus and a built in Timer. There are also “B” and “E” models, but I feel they are too basic to be considered.
  • 140 Slide Trays: We do not recommend the 140 slide trays as Kodak had lots of unexplainable problems with them jamming. With this in mind, we only recommend the 80 slide trays.

Some thoughts to help you in your search:

  • Avoid the models “Not Recommended” section above for the reasons listed
  • We applaud the sellers whom are being up front and saying that the projector they are selling is for parts only
  • Most of the projectors that are listed as “for parts only” are actually repairable
  • Instructions for repairing the Pre-1981 slide projectors are available for free downloading
  • Factory service manuals are available for free downloading
  • Don’t put any value on the 140 slide trays when making your purchase as you really want the 80s
  • Avoid the projectors being sold without power cords as they are needed and not readily available
  • Most of the “New” power cords being offered, don’t fit properly and are fire hazards
  • Some on-line sellers have excessively high shipping charges, so pay attention to your final cost including shipping

Each model of projector went through many changes over its production life. Unlike cars, there isn’t necessarily a desired model year for each model of projector. Some examples of the changes; the “H” series of projectors started out with metal main housings and at the end of their production life, were plastic. The early “H” series had a removable/losable power cord, where the later models had an attached power cord.  The 4XXX and 5XXX series started out with a lamp module door that was attached to the projector and soon after, changed to a door that was attached to the lamp module. The 4XXX and 5XXX series went through changes to the panel where the controls are located, and colors of the plastic used for the main housing.

If you would like to know how to tell when a projector was made, you need to know it’s CAMEROSITY code.

The CAMEROSITY code is a letter system for identifying the manufacture date of Kodak products, including slide projectors. Knowing the manufacture date helps to identify what modifications a projector might have and can help in repairing it.

Older projectors from the 1960’s and 1970’s had 6-letter codes, while later projectors use a 4-letter code.

The CAMEROSITY code can be located in one of three places: 1) on a silver label inside the cord storage compartment door on older products, 2) on a silver label on the lamp compartment door, or 3) pressed into the plastic of the cord wrap located on the bottom of the projector on later models. The letters are small so you may have to look closely to see it.

The most important letters are the last two, which designate the year the projector was manufactured. The first two letters indicate the month. For a while, Kodak operated on a schedule with 13 periods in a year instead of 12 months in a year. In that case, the first two letters indicate the period, so don’t be surprised if you see a 13 for the month. If there are six letters, the middle two indicate the day as in mm/dd/yy.

 

Use this table to decode the letters:

C A M E R O S I T Y

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Examples:

CAMEROSITY

=

mm/dd/yy

=

TRANSLATION

YMARSA

=

032576

=

25-Mar-72

CAMEROSITY

=

mm/yy

=

TRANSLATION

CMIT

=

1389

=

Period 13, 1989

YATM

=

0293

=

February, 1993

YMYY

=

0300

=

March, 2000

CCYE

=

1104

=

November, 2004