Well, I seem to have lots of time on my hands so I thought I would try some of the things in this book I received as a Christmas present.
The first project I decided to try was this one…
Seeing as I have a few box cameras and the one specifically mentioned in the article, it seemed the best place to start. Taking photos through the viewfinder with a digital camera. And that is what TtV means, Through The Viewfinder. I had also read about the process on this blog.
First though, I needed to clean the viewfinder of my Duaflex. I could find instructions online for other versions of the Duaflex, but not the one I had. So I just looked for the screws and undid them until I had access. After I had finished I found this tutorial. I wish I had found it first as I didn’t know how to remove the front plate though managed to get access to the mirror anyway. Sorry no photos of that, I forgot.
Then I used some random cardboard I had in the house. At first I tried my Sony a37 to take the photos, but it was tricky to focus as the auto focusing would not work. I put it in manual focus mode and moved the camera up and down the tube until focus was achieved. In the end I gave up and switched to my phone camera. That focused without issue.
The resulting photos were reversed, I could digitally correct that, but I wasn’t bother by it.
Here are some of the results I got from the Sony a37, of course I am restricted to my house and garden.
And here are some results from my phone camera, a Huawei P20 pro.
Well, that was a nice use of the day. I much prefer the black and white ones I originally got from this camera, on film. But it has been an interesting experiment, I don’t think I will repeat it.
I will try a few more ideas from the book, though you might get tired of photos from my garden 🙂
This was one of the cleaner examples of Brownies from my job lot. I gave it an extra clean as the front pops off easily and, well, I could. It is also one of the prettiest from the collection. Look at it.
There are two versions of this camera, this is the second which was released between 1953-57. You can tell the difference by the horizontally striped design faceplate, plastic winding knob, and a plastic shutter release button. This version of the Brownie has more features than most models.
A built-in sliding portrait lens for close-ups
A yellow filter for use with black and white film, adding contrast
2-pin flash contacts…though you might not be able to use them
Tripod sockets for landscape and portrait photos
A shutter lock stops double or accidental exposures…though I do think I got a couple of them on my test roll
A cable release socket
I loaded mine with Fuji Acros and took it to Wales for the weekend, though I did take all the shots at one destination…Goodrich castle. I decided on that destination as I have just bought membership to English Heritage. Basically for the cost of visiting this location was more expensive than the monthly fee, so why the hell not. This year I have decided to resurrect my other blog and want to visit more castles and stuff. But this blog is about the camera.
…And this camera was great. It just worked. The shutter release was a tiny bit juddery, but nothing serious. The viewfinders were big and bright, though you do have to look at just the right angle. The only thing that detracts from this version of the Brownie is the Six-20 in the name, meaning you have to respool 120 film in order to use it more smoothly.
But respool it I did, and here are the shots I got from this camera. Actually a couple of the shots were taken by the person in the photos. She is now the proud owner of this camera and has set herself the goal of learning to use it and develop a roll of film.
These are the shots from that excursion.
The first couple of shots do look like there is a double exposure, and that is possible on this camera. I can’t be totally sure as I wasn’t holding the camera the whole time the film was inside. But for a 60+ year old camera, the results are very nice. If you are going to get a Brownie then this version is a great one to have…apart from the re-rolling of course.
Finally, finally!!!! a day with a tiny bit of sun and brightness and I just happened to have camera fully loaded and ready to try. This is the very smart looking Kodak Duaflex which was available in the UK between 1949-1955.
Mine is in pretty good condition considering the age. It has a 75 mm Kodet lens with a fixed aperture of f15. I would guess the shutter speed is about 1/50th or less. There is an option for bulb setting, but that is it really. I have seen a few posts on instagram or blogs about attaching a digital camera to the enormous viewfinder. My example is a little dirty, but still very bright and clear. I might be tempted to clean it and try this type of photography. The square shape of the camera means this type of photography might not be too tricky…now I am even more tempted, but I think I will wait for the spring and longer, brighter days.
As for this camera in its current state, I like it. I liked using it, I like how it looks and I love how the shots came out. They have a definite look to them, a real tapering off of sharpness. I used mine at a local park during a few minutes of sun.
I am definitely going to try this camera again, maybe some portraits to really show off the bizarre focusing effect.
Here are a couple of the images quickly processed using the Snapseed app on my android phone.
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.
This camera came as part of a job lot and it meant, finally, I had a clean instamatic. One that seemed to work perfectly, one that I might be able to use the Fakmatic in with relative ease. Having previously tried the adapter and failed, I had given it away. I cheekily asked the receiver if there was a possibility of getting it back and voila, another chance for the 3D printed device. There are other ways of using instamatic cameras, like reusing an old cartridge or adapting a 35mm roll as in this video but I really wanted to use the fakmatic.
This instamatic was manufactured from 1968 to 1973 and accepted 126 cartridge film. It has a fixed-focus lens and a two-speed shutter – 1/40sec and 1/80 sec. You select the speeds with the weather symbols on the front of the camera. The aperture is set at f11 for the 43mm lens.
If you watched the fakmatic video you will hear that you have to take a photo, then expose another photo while covering the lens in that pattern. That way you avoid getting overlapped images.
I seem to say this all the time recently, but the weather here has been awful. I managed to use the film ready for home developing over a few days. It was hard to know when the film was finished as I could not hear any squeaking and there were no numbers to check. So once I thought I had taken enough shots I put the cartridge in a light tight bag and felt for the sprockets of the film. I could still feel them, that mean there was still film left. So I took a few more shots, then I repeated the process. The next time I could not feel the sprockets meaning the film was finished.
There were some overlaps, and the beginning of the film was fogged where I loaded it into the camera. One side of the film had the image over the sprockets, but I didn’t scan those to include them.
I kept the camera set to cloudy which meant an exposure of 1/40th at f11. Mostly the exposure is ok, I over developed the film as I though the conditions meant they might be underexposed.
The results look very soft in terms of focusing. They remind me of something from a pinhole camera. All in all I did not enjoy using the camera and I am not keen on the results. I doubt I will be using an instamatic again. Though I have to change my opinion of the fakmatic, that worked really well.
This is my favourite Brownie so far. It was produced from 1958-1960 so had a very small production run compared to the others. Just look at it…
This brownie has so many things going for it that distinguish it from the other Brownies I have tried.
It is very easy to clean the viewfinders and mirrors, just pop off the front.
The said viewfinders are nice and big, and once cleaned, very bright.
It has a choice of three speeds which are stated on the camera, no guessing. The choices are 1/40th 1/80th and B. With a set f11 aperture.
The 1/80th speed is quicker than most Brownies which are usually around 1/50th.
There is a built in close-up lens for subjects 5-10ft away.
There is a built in filter for brighter days or faster films.
Both of those filters are labeled on the pull out tabs.
There is a guide to settings on the camera. Though it is for Kodak film from the time. It is useful to know Tri-X is rated 200 ISO, Veri-Pan is 125 ISO and Pan X 32 ISO.
The skin is good quality and can be glued back in place unlike the paper-ish covered versions.
You can take multiple exposures.
There is a flash slot if you happen to have a flash and bulbs.
It is Brown, it really is a ‘Brownie’ hence the ’emphatic’ use of quotation marks.
It uses 620 film so I respooled a roll of Fomapan. Which I have to say is turning all my chemicals bright blue, I wonder if the dye affects the potency of the developer etc. Anyway, I took the camera to my local town when I went to find a pair of wellies. There has been a lot of rain lately, lots of places in Yorkshire are flooded. So I thought wellies might be useful. Unfortunately, there was only one shop selling them and no wide ones, I have fat calves…due to a motorbike accident honest 😦 All that is beside the point. Here is my test roll.
Dark, contrasty and moody, just as I like them.
I used the close up filter on the lettered flag stones. I am just over five foot tall, so I put the camera on my head and used the closeup filter.
I have wanted to try one of these cameras for a while. I just love the way the front flips up to reveal the flash. Though having the flash right above the lens is never a good idea. I think it is the Star Trek fan in me, I love flippy things.
In regards to the origin of the the camera, I found it difficult to find a production date. I did find an amazon listing for 2002 so early 2000s or late 90s. You can find lots of technical details here. But really there aren’t many details of note. Basically, it is a fixed aperture camera of f5.6 with a maximum shutter speed of 1/200th. Combined with no zoom it really is a bit cheap and rubbish.
Maybe the photos could redeem it in my eyes?
Nope, I think this is the worst aps camera I have ever tried. There is no excuse for the lack of focus. You had one thing to do little camera, one thing! I would not recommend this camera, especially as film is hard to get these days why waste it in this pile of s**t. Get a canon!
This Brownie is one of the few I have decided to keep from the box of 60+ I gained recently. My decision was based on the fact I could take the front off and clean the lens, mirrors, and viewfinders. That made it very easy to use. Also, this version has a close-up lens built-in. Although, close up, means between 3-7 feet so not really close. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of a tripod socket. With the long exposures of Brownies, there is always chance of camera shake. I find this especially true in regards to the button press versions. On the plus, there was a flash attachments and I do have the flash, but alas no bulbs.
I put in a roll of respooled Fomapan 100 and went on a short walk to use the 8 shots of 6×9.
I loved using this camera, it was simple and just worked. There is surprisingly very little camera shake and it is sharper than any toy camera I have tried. I like the look of the resulting photos. If you are looking for a brownie, then this one is a reliable choice. As mentioned it is easy to clean and very well built. Of course being about 75 years old makes that all depend on previous owners….oh what it might have seen.