This was my favourite looking Brownie from the job lot I acquired, but it soon became my least favourite one that I have tried so far. Firstly loading it was a little annoying, the back is attached to the front, you have to swing it up and over. Why Kodak, why??
That makes this the earlier version of the UK model of which there were two versions; the earlier (1934-37) had this connection. You can see on the front there are a number of levers to change the aperture and distance. The default distance is landscape and you have to hold the other choices in place. The speed for regular shots is probably about 1/50th, but given the age of the camera, it is not guaranteed. This example only had one issue I could see or not see. The portrait viewfinder was black and I couldn’t use it to frame anything.
As I have now tried a few Brownies without too much trouble, I loaded it up with Fomapan without too much checking for issues. Then I took it to London on a birthday trip with my sister. The very first place we went to was the Rapha shop in Soho. I was holding the camera and the shop assistant spotted it straight away…”Is that, is that a Brownie???” and then we started chatting. I also had a Spiderman camera with me too. I did see a hint of jealously, well, who wouldn’t want a Spiderman camera.
Anyway, to make a long story short, he very nicely posed for a photo. As soon as I got home I developed the film and oh the disappointment.
Actually, the guy did very well as I had the camera on bulb as we were inside. But on the whole the results were disappointing. Lots of fogging. Where was the light coming from? These cameras are usually a solid box??
I turned the lights off and got a torch.
Bloody corners! I looked inside.
There does seem to be rusted areas, nothing too major, but enough to let light in. I tried painting the insides with thick black paint..it didn’t work, I could still see the light coming through. So I figured the camera was knackered anyway and it is mine…Hello old used Marvel comics. This bad camera deserved a bad guy makeover.
And then I tried it again…..
Much better, with just a lens aberration from the sun in one shot. Oh and the scratching 😦 Framing was tricky on portrait shots due to the mirror issues so I decided to try and fix it. It would be good practice.
In the manual it mentions how to take the front off to clean the camera so that is where I started…and then the next disappointment. The damn screws would not come off. I tried soaking them in WD40, nothing would move them.
In then end I drilled them out, just so I could see the inside of the camera. The mirrors are free hanging and the portrait one was flat against the back. I bent it back to a good position, though how it moved flat in the first place I have no idea.
Oh and there weren’t just the screws on the outside, there were three holding the lens/shutter box in place too. They were on the inside of the camera, remember the swinging back. That didn’t help. And then there were two tiny screws on the actual lens mechanism to open that in order to clean the glass. I managed to remove everything and not break anything. Then I started putting it back together. I figured I would glue the front plate on as it hadn’t been removed for 80 years so it probably wouldn’t be removed again. Once all back together I would finish decorating the rest of the camera.
But…next disappointment…the shutter mechanism no longer worked properly. It kept getting stuck on something. I took it apart twice, but it never really worked again once placed inside the brownie box. Well that was fun, not.
So, this was not my favourite Brownie experience. Funnily enough though, if this was my only Brownie I think I would have taken much more care. But when you have so many of something they seem to lose their value. It is something I will have to think about in the future and force myself to take more care.