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.
Welcome to Brownie blog post. I have a feeling there might be a few of these in the future. This one is for the gorgeously striped Model C produced from 1953. There is an earlier version which has a black front with no stripes.
This one was in good condition, but I was able to clean the mirrors, viewfinders, and lens to make it even better. As you can see it takes 620 film of which there are none. Luckily it is the same size as 120 with a slightly thinner spool. Each one of the cameras I obtained had an empty spool inside so I used the technique I have previously written about to transfer the film. I chose a Fomapan 100 as I thought a faster film would be over exposed at the camera’s f11 aperture and 1/50th speed. There is also a bulb mode and, as with most Brownies, you can take multiple exposures.
I took my example to the Yorkshire Marathon where I was a volunteer spotter for the relay race. That meant I had to “spot” the relay runners in the pack and walkie-talkie the number to the changeover point to make sure their team member was at the front of the queue. It was fun, but tricky when a whole heap of runners went passed. While waiting in the changing area for the bus to take me to the allocated location I tried the bulb mode. I set the camera on a table and pressed the shutter for a count of 45 elephants. It was a guess.
Once at the location, I had time to test the camera while waiting for the next runner. The relay racers set off after the individual runners so I had a little free time, just a little. Anyway, there were only 7 shots left, so it didn’t take long to finish the film.
I did buy some eggs 🙂
For a 65 year old camera, I think it did very well. I enjoyed using it, the clean viewfinder added to the experience. Some Brownies have very dark and dirty viewfinders, but they are easy to clean. These cameras are so cheap that I would recommend waiting to get one that has either been cleaned or is possible to clean, like this one. I sometimes find Brownies hard to align and compose, so a dirty viewfinder would be very frustrating.
A while ago I was given some infrared film. It had expired, but had been kept in a freezer or a fridge since it was produced.
I read up on using it and checkout out some sample photos. Mainly I saw landscapes so decided that was my focus too. This website gives even more details on what to expect and how to use it. It also mentions that the felt on the opening of the cassette is not infrared tight so the warnings on the box and tub are important to follow.
DO NOT OPEN THE TUB OUT OF A DARK BAG. That means you have to load the camera inside the bag. The article also mentions a filter. So before I did anything I ordered an infrared filter on eBay. I got a cheap one as I only had one roll of film. You can use the film without a filter but what is the point of that, it would end up looking like a regular black and white film. I won’t go into lots of technical details, you can do the research too or read the blogs I have already linked to.
I decided to use my Minolta XG2 for the test for these reasons: 1. I knew it worked 2. The lens had an IR diamond on it. 3. The light meter was through the lens.
I set the camera to 100asa and attached the filter. Even though I could not see through the filter, the camera often chose a surprisingly shorter exposure than I expected. It was not short enough that I felt I could do without a tripod, so I took a mini tripod on a walk around Dewsbury Country Park. I only took a few shots as I decided to use some of the roll as a development test as I didn’t really know if it would work or if I could develop it.
Here are a few shots from that first test. I developed it in Ilfosol 3 for 10 minutes at 20 degrees.
To focus I removed the filter and reattached it carefully after. You have to turn the lens a little to the right as IR needs a different focus point than regular light. The other blogs will explain that more clearly. Anyway, the results were interesting. So I took the rest of the roll to another park, where the camera jammed due to a long exposure issue. I only managed a few more shots there before returning home to deal with the camera.
I fixed the camera with the method mentioned in this post. At this point I almost gave up on the film as it was a little awkward to use. The whole “keep in the dark” issue meant I could not just take out the film to look at the camera closely. But with only having one roll I persevered, but was looking forward to finishing it.
Once sorted I decided to finish the roll with a different filter to see what would happen. I chose a regular red one. Here are some results.
As you can see, especially with the path photo, you lose some of the IR effects with a red filter. The image is slightly sharper, but where is the fun in that.
I don’t think I will try it again though it was interesting. Afterwards, the giver of this roll gave me 11 more rolls which I will be selling on eBay if you are interested. Or you can send me a message if you would like to buy a roll.
As you may know I recently purchased a whole heap of box cameras. I am slowly going through them, cleaning and sorting them. I picked out two to try first, I wanted to chose something slightly different to the two brownies I have tried before.
This little camera looked markedly different from all the others in the box so it was first on my list to try. I think I should have used a banana for scale.
First produced in 1957 it was not on sale in the general market and was obtained by collecting coupons from various promotional deals. I found this out through this amazing Brownie resource. This website is the fountain of all Brownie related knowledge, though it does not give the aperture or speed on the camera page, both are set as there is no scope to change anything. Looking further into the website I found this explanation of all technical details. Using that information I could estimate f11 and 1/50th which was confirmed on this blog. That blog also tells you how to clean this camera. Luckily for me, my example was one of the few in the box that was in great condition. Oh and you can take multiple exposures as the shutter is not connected to the wind on mechanism.
Due to the number of cameras I received and the price of film, I wanted to try a few of the cameras in the cheapest way possible. Sometimes that makes the act of trying them more interesting for me. For this one it meant making a 127 film from a 35mm film with an adapted 120 backing paper. I have tried 35mm in a 127 camera before, but I have not adapted or created a new backing paper before. For the last try, I had already used a new 127 film and reused that roll. I left that backing paper in Japan, but luckily there were many 127 spools and a used 127 roll in one of the boxes. As it was my only one I wanted to preserve it for as long as possible. That was the main reason for trying to make a new backing paper from one of the many, cheaper 120 rolls papers in my possession.
So here is how to do that. As you can see in the photo below, an easy way to line things up is by using paper clips. The 120 roll is much longer than 127 so you can easily make the new end sections. Then cut, it doesn’t have to be precise. Test it by rolling it onto the spool without the film. This way you will see if it fits without damaging the film. On mine I found some sections slightly too big by millimetres but that didn’t affect the final results, a roll on a spool.
Next, before adding the film, I wrote the numbers on the new paper.
And then, tape the end of the 35mm film to the new paper so you can line it up as straight as possible, put two small pieces of sellotape on the back of your hand. You will need these pieces of tape once you put everything in the dark bag. One for the roll, one for the paper.
Before putting everything in a dark bag attach the end of the new 127 paper to the 127 spool and start to roll it as tight as possible until you get passed the end of the exposed film. Now with everything inside the dark bag, keep rolling the paper and releasing the 35mm film, keeping it as tight as possible without touching the film. Once you are close, but not at the end of the paper, cut and tape the end of the film to the paper with the tape you put on your hand. The other piece of tape is to keep the roll paper nice and tight when you removed it from the dark bag.
And finally load it in the camera of your choice, for me the Bullet, at your leisure.
I used my camera on a rainy walk to the bus station. There are just 8 shots so it didn’t take long. I developed it in Ilfosol 3 when I got home.
This time I managed to scan the sprockets by using a 120 mask and some tape. The long sides did curl up a little, but I sacrificed a little sharpness for the sake of saving my scanner plate from sticky residue.
I love the results and really liked the camera. It is the only one from the box that would actually fit into my pocket. Making the 127 roll was easy and cheaper than buying 127 film. I just had to remember to align the image in the center of the viewfinder as the results would not be square. There are other 127 cameras in the box so I will use this system again, unless I get some 127 film for Xmas 🙂
Yesterday I was browsing Facebook Market place and noticed and advert for what looked like 6 box brownies. They were £30, unfortunately I didn’t take a screenshot, but the cameras in the photo were the basic box brownie type. I thought, well that is a bit much for 6 cheapo brownies. But out of interest I decided to read the description instead of just skimming passed it. Holy Moly, this wasn’t for 6 cameras, that photo was a taster. This listing was for over 60 cameras!
I couldn’t resist that so I sent a message and arranged to pick them up the next day, and not a minute too soon. Once I got to the location I found the cameras in a number of boxes in a garage. Later, looking through them I found a few were a bit damp, the bags were on the cusp of starting to get moldy.
I brought them into my house and started going through them. In all there totaled 67 cameras, nearly all different. Of those 3 didn’t seem to be working, but might be fixable and 5 were beyond help and were not worth fixing. Lots of them took 620 film which I have never tried and is not really available, but luckily many had an empty spool inside. So for the spools alone, it was worth the drive.
Once I had made a list and sorted them, I picked out 4 to give a quick clean and to retrieve the spools. One of those had a 120 spool jammed inside which proved to me it wouldn’t really work. Now I have a 620 spool in my hand I can see the diameter is a little smaller than 120 so they turn smoothly. I have previously opened a brownie and cleaned it so I had a tiny bit of experience on that front.
I had no experience respooling 120 film onto 620 spools so I watched this video.
I didn’t roll it onto a 620 then roll it onto another 620. I just unrolled it loose then respooled it onto the 620, it worked fine.
Then I loaded it into one of the cameras I had cleaned.
Not the sexiest choice, but it was now clean and it worked smoothly. I will try it out sometime in the next couple of weeks.
And here is a list of all the cameras in the lot.
Kodak Brownies (I just don’t want to write this loads of times) Six-20 Model C No.2 – 116 Cresta Six-20 Popular Six-20 Junior Portrait No.2 Popular Flash B Flash 20 C (four examples) 127 (three examples) Cresta 3 (Three examples) Six-20 Target Brownies with no other information (Six examples, one with a built in filter, one blue) Six-20 Model D (4 examples) Flash II (Two examples each with a flash attachment, one 4 version, one 5 version) Duaflex Modern No.2 44A Reflex 20 Bullet Starmite Flashmite
Kodak Hawkeyes Cartridge Model B (two examples) No.2 Model C Mod B B Portrait Star
Extra – Kodak Flash holder Model II in box
Coronet Popular twelve (two examples) Twelve 20 Every D-20 Conway Conway Popular Cadet
Other Makes Balda Frontbox Ensign E-29 (two examples, one blue – takes 129 film which is unavailable) Ensign Ful-Vue Ernemann 6×9 Box Brownie Type Camera **this could be the star piece, rarer**
Folding cameras – not working, might be fixable Kershaw Penguin Eight 20 Kodak Folding Brownie Six 20 Balda Baldanette
I definitely will not be film testing all of these. I will choose a few examples to compare and might think about an exhibition in the future. Otherwise they are going to be stuck in boxes and bags for a long time.
And if you got all the way to the end of this list and post…One camera, an unsalvageable Kodak had a 127 film roll inside. It looked in fairly good condition so I tried to develop it. In the end….there was no film, it was just the backing paper. I could use it to respool some 35mm onto it as there are a number of those kind of cameras in the lot.
I tried again with the Kodak Brownie No2. I got a fat roll again. But I did get a few unfogged shots. I tried a double exposure and a shot inside on bulb this time.
I used Kosmo Foto 120 this time and I really like the look of the film. For the inside shot I set the camera on a table, closed the aperture to f32 and used a 34 second exposure on bulb. It definitely came out better than my pinhole camera.
Let’s go back in time 100 years, what kind of camera would a regular, everyday person be using? Probably this one, the Box Brownie. This camera was in use around 1901-1935. There were five different models and was the first camera EVER to use 120 film. Mine seems to be model F which is from the very end of the production cycle.
I have found the balcony at the top of my stairs makes a perfect light box for taking photos of cameras. Well I like it anyway, and it was free 🙂
I became interested in trying this camera after reading this great review. When I saw the photos Jim obtained I wanted to try one and kept looking on eBay for a decent example. They really do vary in prices, of course I wanted a very cheap one and eventually I got this. As you can see it is pretty good condition. It was light tight and the lens was clean. The viewfinders were not and I did have trouble framing my images.
There are two pull out tabs on the top. One changes the speed between roughly 1/50th to Bulb. The other tab lets you choose between three apertures f/11, f/22, and f/32. By the way, that link is also a fantastic review. Anyway, I kept both of my tabs pushed down as it was sunny and I was outside. The other choices are for inside or cloudy, which I might experiment with another time with the aid of a tripod as there is mount on the bottom.
I tried to load mine while waiting for my car to go through its MOT. As such I was sat on an uncomfortable chair with no surface spaces. I found it a bit tricky to load as the tension of the roll kept becoming loose. I ended up fogging the first frame. Basically I had the opposite experience to Jim.
I then got bored of waiting for the retest and decided to take a bus to Leeds and get some films developed. I waited for those by watching the Wimbledon women’s final on the Millennium Square big screen. Well, that only took an hour to finish, so back to pick up the photos then back to pick up the car. It was a day of waiting and filling in time. Also during that time I managed to finish the roll of film inside the Brownie. As it takes 6×9 images, you get 8 shots to a roll. So finishing it really didn’t take long. I was worried about camera shake so for a couple of shots I placed the camera on a wall and a bench. But looking at the other images I didn’t need to be worried, they were fine. Next time I won’t bother with that.
So what do photos from a 90ish year old camera look like…
I have no idea why I didn’t turn the camera to landscape view, there is a viewfinder on both sides. Maybe because it was the cleaner of the two viewfinders. Again, I will try landscape next time.
So for next time the list goes 1. Try landscape view 2. Try a different aperture 3. Try a tripod and bulb mode
I would say try colour, but I want to keep costs down and I don’t have any C41 chemicals yet. I think it would be too unpredictable for slide film.
I don’t feel these are the best photos I have ever taken, but there is potential. I may add some more photos later when I have tried it again. BUT what a camera, what a piece of history. I would compare this camera to the Barnack for its contribution to the photographic industry. For the first time a regular person like you and me could take photos out and about without too much hassle.
UPDATE: After reading Jim’s comment about cleaning it. I decided to have a look and it is indeed easy. Basically the front is just held on with two pressure points and can be prised off with a well placed screwdriver. So while watching the Tour de France highlight I did take the front off and used a standard lens cleaner to wipe the lenses and mirrors. In the end I decided to tackle it as the camera has lasted 90 years, it would surely last me giving it a quick clean.
I also gave the front and back of the actual lens a quick, gentle clean by using the bulb mode. The cleaning wipe came out very dirty after touching the mirrors, but was surprisingly clean after the lens. There was clearly 90 years of dust in the viewfinder. I just hope I didn’t scratch the actual lens. I will load it again with film and take some more shots…when the rain stops.