The Kodak Carousel projector is ubiquitous, at least in the United States. I'd recommend that anyone planning to show their slides publicly buy a Carousel, Medalist, or Ektagraphic.
There are several lines of Kodak projectors:
The Carousel projectors are the home/consumer line. The current series have four digit model numbers. They have a one year warranty.
The Medalist AF is a heavier duty consumer projector. It comes with a three year warranty.
The Ektagraphics intended for professional and A/V work. Although they look similar to the Carousels some internal parts are different. The current projectors are the Ektagraphic III series. They carry a four year warranty.
The Ektapro is even higher end, and I'm not sufficiently familiar with them (out of my budget).
The Ektalight models are similar to the Ektagraphic III models and are not available in the US.
The advantages of the Ektagraphics are:
The disadvantages of Ektagraphics are:
The Ektagraphic III series projectors are currently available in four models, the IIIe plus, IIIa, IIIamt, and IIIats. Kodak also made the IIIam, IIIas, IIIb, and IIIe which are not currently in production but may be available used.
The IIIe is the basic projector (the economy version), no auto or remote focus. The IIIb is the earlier version of the IIIe plus which has manual remote focus.
Kodak also makes two projectors which are switchable for 110 or 220 volts, the IIIbr and IIIabr.
The rest of the III series can be understood by looking at the letters in the name:
So a IIIa is the basic autofocus projector, while a IIIamt adds remote manual and a timer. IIIats does, by the way, have remote manual. They don't use all four letters in the suffix.
There are four models of Carousel available, the 4200, 4400, 4600, and 5600. And there are three models which are no longer in production. There is no obvious correspondence between the model numbers and the features, except that higher numbers have more features. Here's a quick chart:
Carousel Ektagraphic Features 4000 Manual focus. No option for remote control. No forward/reverse buttons. Advance by pressing the select button. 4200 IIIe Manual focus. Remote control, no remote focus. 4400 IIIe plus, IIIb Remote manual focus (focus button on remote control) 4600 IIIa Autofocus 5200 IIIas Autofocus, screen 5400 Autofocus, timer, screen IIIam Autofocus, remote focus override (focus button on remote control) IIamt Autofocus, remote focus override (focus button on remote control), timer 5600 IIIats Autofocus, remote focus override (focus button on remote control), timer, screen
The IIIb model was replaced by the IIIe plus, but the features did not change. The IIIam and IIIas were discontinued.
The Medalist AF is has the same features as the Carousel 4600 . It has a grey base instead of black and a three conductor power cord. It is built using some Ektagraphic parts such as the fan motor. And it has a longer warranty.
The current Extagraphic and 4000/5000 series projectors were introduced in 1982. There have been a few changes to them over the years. Originally the lamp module was behind a door which folded down. On most early projectors this door was gray. A revision to the design changed this so the door was part of the lamp module and pulled out with it. This lamp module door was black. The latest change was to incorporate a bright lamp module. This module can be recognized by the words "Extra Bright" on the back. The color of the projectors was changed from gray or black to beige. If you are looking at a used projector this can give you some indication as to the age. And if you are looking at a new projector it can help you to make sure you are purchasing the latest version.
If you are looking for a used projector, Kodak made other Carousels before the current series. These had three digit model numbers. The earliest had 500 watt bulbs. The later models had 300 watt halogen bulbs which were brighter and cooler. The model numbers did not change except that Kodak added the letter H after the number. So a Carousel 650 would have a 500 watt bulb and a Carousel 650H would have a 300 watt bulb. These bulbs are not interchangable and it is not possible to update a non-halogen projector.
Here are the model numbers and features:
Original Halogen Features 600 600H Manual focus. No option for remote control. No forward/reverse. buttons. Advance by pressing the select button. 650 650H Manual focus. Remote control with forward/reverse only. No forward/reverse buttons on projector. 700 700H Manual focus. Remote control, no remote focus. 750 750H Remote manual focus (focus button on remote control) 760 760H Autofocus 800 800H Remote manual focus (focus button on remote control), timer 850 850H Autofocus, timer - 5, 8, 15 seconds 860 860H Autofocus, remote focus override (focus button on remote control), timer
The early non-Halogen Carousels are old and ran very hot. They are not a good choice for a used projector.
The Ektagraphic II series were the commercial versions of the above and may be a good choice.
The The Ektagraphic E-2 was the simplest. It had manual focus and a remote.
The The Ektagraphic B-2 added remote focus.
The Ektagraphic AF-1 had autofocus but no remote focus or timer.
The AF-2 had autofocus and a timer. There were several versions of the AF-2. Some had an autofocus on/off switch and on some the timer was electronic instead of mechanical.
The Ektagraphic AF-3 was like the AF-2 but it had a remote ON/OFF switch. This required a special remote control, the EC-4.
There were some even earlier models, the Carousel 500 and 550. These are from the 1960s and are much larger and heavier than the projectors which replaced them. They also used 500 watt bulbs.
There are also some non-Kodak projectors which take Carousels. You might find a used Singer or Telex Caramate. Leica sold a projector which looked the same as the Caramate only with their brand name on it. Although these projectors use the same remotes as the Kodak projectors some dissolves will not work with them. Elmo, Leica, Navitar, Simda, and Telex are among the manufacturers of Carousel compatible projectors. These are meant for commercial use and are expensive new.
Autofocus is a major feature on the more expensive projectors. If you are using a single projector to show your slides and they are not all in the same slide mounts, autofocus can be wonderful.
If you are using more than one projector and a dissolve autofocus can interfere with the smooth transition between slides. In this case it is best to mount all the slides in the same type of mount and turn autofocus off.
All Carousel and Ektagraphic projectors use the same lens mount. Autofocus is done within the projector so it works with any lens.
Lenses come in two types, flat field and curved field. The curved field lenses are designed to project slides which are not in glass mounts. They attempt to compensate for the curvature of the slide film. Flat field lenses are designed for slides which are not curved, for example those mounted between two pieces of glass.
At the PMA show in 1995 Kodak changed their lens recommendation. They now recommend flat field lenses for general purpose and home slide viewing. This is because newer films are flatter and because of available mounts. Curved field lenses are at their best only with original slides machine-mounted in cardboard.
There are a number of companies which make lenses for Carousel projectors. Here are a few to watch (or watch out) for.
Kodak makes the most common lenses. They are available in flat field and curved field. The 102-152 C (curved field) zoom is very popular, as is the 100-150mm flat field zoom. There are also non-zooms available, these tend to be brighter.
Kodak lenses are light and cheap, but not terribly sharp, especially the 102-152 zoom. This isn't surprising - if you bought a zoom lens for your camera for under $100 would you expect great performance? I have been told that the 100-150 flat field is not as bad as the 102-152 curved field.
Kodak also makes a series of more expensive lenses, the Ektapro Select. These are much higher quality. I have seen them in use and the resulting images were quite sharp. Their prices are competitive with other premium lenses. I've never heard of a used Select lens.
Navitar makes some really nice lenses. I use three 70-125mm flat field zoom lenses when I do three projector shows. I also have three 6-9" zooms which I use for large rooms. There are several series of Navitar lenses, and I've seen the older 70-125 zoom sell for under $100 used and Golden Navitar zoom lenses that were still in the original box and plastic wrap go for $150. These lenses are so much sharper than the standard Kodak zooms that slides which are not in glass mounts look sharper with flat field Navitars than with curved field Kodaks. Navitar also makes fixed length lenses and longer zooms. New, they are very expensive.
Buhl also makes high quality lenses. I have several 7" Buhl lenses, including a matched set which I use when I know they will be the correct length. Buhl lenses are often less expensive than Navitars. I know someone who compared a fixed Navitar against a fixed Buhl, could see no difference, and bought the Buhl for $100 less. Things may change because Navitar has purchased Buhl.
Schneider makes several lines of lenses. The lower cost Prolux lenses are very good for their price and the Cinelux lenses are excellent.
I've only had one experience with Raynox lenses. They are supposed to be pretty good, but I was very dissapointed. However these had been beaten up in A/V service.
ISCO is actually the same company as Schneider. They sell a line of lenses under that name. I have a couple ISCO 70-125mm perspective correction lenses which I sometimes use at home.
Leica lenses have a good reputation. Many of their lenses will not fit a Kodak projector so check before you buy.
The first question about mounts is whether to use glass mounts. These sandwich the slide between two pieces of glass, keeping them nice and flat.
I don't usually use glass mounts because they are fragile and I am clumsy. Also you have to be careful about temperature and humidity when traveling with glass mounts if you don't want to see moisture when you show your slides. I have done shows which have slides that are on the screen for more than 30 seconds. We glass mounted the slides because otherwise they would go out of focus as they became warm and expanded.
Charlotte and I use Wess plastic mounts (AGX-002), as they are easy to put slides in and are heavy enough that they drop reliably. They are a bit more expensive than some of the other choices though, and I recommend you check out Gepe mounts.
I don't have experience with the Hama slide mounts but have not had problems with popping in slide shows using the Wess mounts, with the one exception mentioned above.
We don't have pin-registered cameras, and sometimes we need to have several slides line up. In that case we use the Wess VR mounts (AVX-002). These mounts have two extra positioning pins. Wess sells a punch that puts two holes in the slides near the sprocket holes (far outside the viewable area). Charlotte is very good at getting the punched images to line up.
If you are going to remount slides, you may also want a device that makes it easier to get slides out of the Kodak paper mounts. Wess sells one that has a razor blade in a little jig that holds the slide mount. Practice on a few slides you don't care about.
When I started doing multiple projector slide shows I learned that setting the projectors on a table there was no way to keep them aligned. Even if I were to line them up perfectly and threaten to kill anyone who came near the table somehow a gremlin would sneak up when I wasn't looking and move one projector a little bit.
I finally bought a projector stand. Chief stands are the best I've seen. They are expensive - a three projector stand is hundreds of dollars, but they are available used.
The original Carousel projectors used two condensers and a heat absorber. The H series used only one condenser. There are no bright lamp modules available for these projectors.
The lamp module for the Ektagraphic III and Carousel 4000/5000 series had a condenser, a mirror, and a greenish piece of heat absorbing glass. In 1996 Kodak introduced their bright lamp module. The difference between the old module and the new brighter module is that the new module has no heat absorbing glass but the mirror is a different material and does not transmit heat. Also the aluminum is black instead of silver colored.
For years Navitar has made modules which replace the standard lamp modules in Ektagraphic projectors. They list for over four hundred dollars each, and typically sell for around $379. The Kodak modules cost around $95. and can be used to upgrade the Carousel 4000/5000, Medalist, and Ektagraphic III projectors (except for the early projectors with the hinged door).
You can make a program look more professional by using title slides. There are lots of ways to make them. The easiest way is to run them on a film recorder. If you don't have one and you don't want to pay $5.00 each for a service bureau to make them check out my page about special slides.
Some of the information on this page was supplied by Ken Kobylenski of KX Camera. Ken sells used projectors, lenses, and dissolve units for audio-visual slide shows.
Information was also supplied by Frank Killam.
And some information came from Kodak. Their website describes the current Kodak projectors and lenses.
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Last modified 16 March 2004