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 120mm 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.
I recently received a package from a reader, I love it when that happens. He sent me two black and white APS film cartridges.
I said thanks of course and promised to use it somewhere “nice’. I ended up taking it to Castle Hill and Almondbury, Huddersfield.
As this was ‘special’ film, I decided to use it in my Canon IX7 as it has an ISO override feature. The film is rated at 400, I set the camera to 200. I think I will set the next roll to 100 as it still turned out a little underexposed.
I think the photos lack contrast, but considering the age of the film they are not so bad. In my opinion the grain adds to the shots. I did a quick search and the film is still available from various places including Amazon, Ebay, and certain film supplying sites.
As for the hill, gosh it was windy. The hill overlooks the whole region and catches every bit of wind. I can’t wait to go back on a sunnier day for a picnic. BUT there are no toilets nearby, I do miss the lovely toilets in Japan. Always clean, always present.
While taking part in my first vintage fair I was contacted by a reader of this blog who made me an offer I could not refuse.
“Would I like to try a Contax RTS III with a lens of my choice?” he asked. “Erm yes please!” I replied without much delay.
So at the fair he brought in said camera as promised with a 28mm lens as I already had a 50mm. He also brought in a box of other items including a 500mm mirror lens with a Contax adaptor.
Here is the camera with the wide angle attached.
My goodness this is a heavy camera, but as you can see in perfect condition. I think if I had owned this camera it would have been a lot more scratched up as I carried it and swung it around. Mr Generous really did look after his stuff. Everything in his box of goodies was in its original box or a bag and labelled.
This camera was first introduced in 1990 and you can find all the technical details you like on this page. Really far down on that page you will see details of a ceramic film pressure plate. This other site also mentions it as a starred feature that ensured a flat film plane as it was enhanced by a vacuum. Well, that is impressive. This reviewer said it felt and looked like a Porche of cameras. I have to agree. Even though it was heavy it was surprisingly comfortable to hold, the hand grip being just the right size for my tiny hands. The diopter adjustment made the already bright viewfinder a delight to look through.
As I had this camera for “as long as you like” I decided to put a few films through it and experiment a bit. So for the first film I put in some Kodak EPH P1600X slide film that I had been given by another reader. In fact he gave me a fair bit of this now unavailable film. I wish I had read that link before as it mentions it is a rare 400asa film that can be pushed to 1600…oh I think that is what the ‘p’ indicates before 1600x.
Well, I really should start reading instructions and reviews before I use things, but where is the fun in that. Anyway, nowhere does this film have 400asa written on it, not even on the box, you just have to be clever enough to know it??
So as I thought the film was 1600asa and it was from 2002, I set the camera to 1250, moving the dial two places lower on this camera. First I tried the 500mm lens, as it did not have an aperture dial I used it at various settings. I tried aperture and speed mode hoping the camera would figure it out the aperture of the lens. I also tried manual, guessing the lens was an f8 as I had seen other lenses with the same sized aperture. I took ten shots then changed to the 28mm lens.
Then I made some calculations. Sending the E6 film off to be developed would take at least a week and cost about £15 with postage. I have at least 12 rolls of slide film. Gosh that would be expensive. An order of Tetenal Colortec E6 would be about £50, arrive the next day, and possibly develop 30 films if I could do it. And there is the rub, I have never done E6 processing before. In Japan you could only get black and white chemicals due to government restrictions on the chemicals needed. So I had next to no experience with colour processing. How hard could it be?? Be brave I thought, chemicals ordered!
I found this site and followed it to the letter. I followed the mixing ratios and timings with a quick glance at the pack instructions. If I had known about the pushing element I would have also followed the film guide which I found later. That would have meant adding 5 minutes to the first development stage.
I boiled a kettle to use as topping up water for the tub which I had filled from the hot tap. I put all the chemicals in the tub and took constant temperature readings to check it stayed at 38C. The main issue I had was the wash process, because the sink was full and I have a small kitchen. But in the end it was not as hard as I thought it would be to keep the temperature fairly stable, even on a cold day. I agitated the developing tank every 15 seconds by using the agitation stick rather than taking the tank out of the warm water and inverting it. Then I waited very impatiently for the film to dry.
So the first part of the film was from the 500mm mirror lens.
Well, they are a bit crappy. Underexposed and fuzzy, focusing was quite hard due to the very small depth of field and darker viewfinder. I don’t like the lens very much, though I am glad I tried a free one as I always wanted to buy one for bird watching. The slides were obviously underexposed which enhanced the blue tint.
Here are some of the ones from the 28mm lens.
At first I was disappointed with the results, but then I remembered…Hey, I developed these slides! The film was 17 years out of date and I used it at the wrong settings on the camera and wrong timing of the film processing. So actually, they are not that bad 🙂
These slide also have a blue tint. The ones in the link I shared to before were also blueish. I wonder what the slides will look like when I try another roll and set the camera to 400asa.
As for the camera, it is a bit awesome. I have put a fresh roll of C41 film in it which I will not be processing myself as I want to see what it can do without the hit and miss of my own processing skills. For a Contax camera these can be found for sale at quite reasonable prices. If you are looking for a good quality, manual focus SLR, they don’t come much better than this.
Update: I tried another roll of the slide film today, this time taken at 400asa. I tried a few settings and a yellow filter. I found the yellow filter definitely was not needed and the blue colour cast was probably due to the underexposure of the first film. Some of the new roll were still blue, but some were relatively ok. Either way this roll came out better.
Here are some more from the second roll. It is not my favourite film at the moment, but I will try it in another camera for another comparison test at a later date.
I was expecting to write a scathing review of this plastic camera from 1999 but I loved it. Another camera I love and a cheap one at that. I can’t even remember where I got this one from so it must have been really cheap. I think I got it in order to use the one EOS lens I have.
You can find technical details here. The first thing I noticed and liked was that it loaded all the film into the body of the camera and then counted down as you used it. I always like that, easy. It was also really quiet, barely a peep out of it. But the main thing I liked was the weight and feel. It is very light and surprisingly pleasant to hold. It won’t hurt your neck on a long walk. Also, you may think it is going to be very plasticky, but the two-tone material on the front of the body actually makes it feel nice in your hand.
In terms of modes, it has all the modes you might ever need. It has iso override, bracketing, presets, manual, aperture priority, speed priority and can take multiple exposures.
As you can see by the photos of the camera, I took it on a walk in the countryside and Bingley Five Rises Locks. I am going to try and take photos of the cameras I use where I use them. I might forget, but that is the plan.
Here are the shots I got using some donated Kodak Ekta 100.
I think I might keep this one, I need something to put on the lens.
I bought this camera so I could try a 3D printed 126 cassette that accepts 35mm film. So I needed a fairly clean 126mm camera. It took me three attempts to hit that requirement. One camera arrived and it looked like it had lived at the bottom of a garage where people did woodworking for 20 years…nope. Finally, this one arrived and there was a found film inside.
The cassette was showing the number 10 so there was still some shots to be taken. I had no doubt that the film was fogged, damaged or just old beyond salvaging. So I took some random photos just in case and then sent it off for develop only.
When it came back I was surprised to see images on the film, some from me, some from the previous owner. But now I didn’t have scanned images. Never mind I just taped the negs to my scanner. They scanned ok, but were very hairy. I didn’t bother fixing them, you will see why.
Here are the found shots.
Cool, no naked shots, looks kind of Greek to me. Do you know where it is?
Here are my shots.
They are not too bad considering. They are fairly sharp, well exposed. That meant this camera would be perfect for the experiment.
I followed the instructions for the adapter to the letter, please check the first link, and took two shots. Then the camera jammed. So I took the cassette out, fogging the film, unjammed the camera and took two more shots. Then the camera jammed. So I took the cassette out, fogging the film, unjammed the camera…can you see where this is going.
Here are my shots recovered from the cassette…er nope. I gave the cassette to a friend to see if he could get it to work. I know I gave up easily, but I had already bought 4 cameras and didn’t think it was worth more effort and money when I have so many other cameras to try. Sorry Fakmatic, super idea, but not for me. Honestly, I think it is because many 126 cameras are old and cronky, I don’t think it has anything to do with the Fakmatic. If you have a good 126 camera it is well worth a try. As I did give the cassette to a friend I don’t have it to take photos of it. Check the website 🙂
Oh but what about the camera? What about 126mm film?
Well, the film ceased being produced in 2008, so like APS all film is now expired, if you do happen to have some. The camera itself was introduced in 1965, has a selenium meter which you can see on the front. You can find more details here.
I sent this camera to the friend who I also gave the 3D printed cartridge too, maybe he can get it to work.
This was one of the 3 cameras I bought in Hong Kong. This cute little thing was sitting on a shelf, in a small shop, at the very top of Sim City. I had given up buying a camera while on holiday, they all seemed overpriced. This one was just $20HK, even if it was overpriced, it was still a good price for a holiday treat. Inside the shop, a man was taking apart an Olympus Trip. I watched him a while then I went back to the shelf. I looked at the other cameras and decided to buy two. I will talk about the other one in another post.
This one is a 127mm camera. It is my first 127 camera, but not my first bakelite. I had read how to load 35mm film onto the cassette and really wanted to try that. When I asked to buy the camera the owner said he also had some film. Perfect, I could use that and use the roll to try it with 35mm. As soon as I got the camera home I asked my friend to go for a walk…oh and pose a bit please 🙂
The camera was produced around 1954 in England. It is a rebadged Brownie 127 made for export to America. There is absolutely nothing to this camera, point, shoot, fire. It has one shutter speed, 1/50th and one aperture, f14. Which means you need to use it on a nice, sunny day which I did with the first film. Here are the result of the film I got with the camera.
Basically, stand very still and do not shoot into the sun. If you follow those rules then the Rera Pan 100 film will be fine for the eight shots you get.
Next, I taped the lead from a cassette of Fujifilm 100 to the backing paper, put both in a dark bag and rolled the film onto the paper. I made sure the new roll was tight before taking out of the bag and putting it in the Starlet. This time shooting I also tried a multi-exposure because you can with this camera.
After you shoot the 8 measly shots you have to reload it into the original cassette if you want to get it developed in a lab. Here in Japan, I made sure I loaded it back into a Fuji cassette 🙂 As you can see they come out like panoramic. I tried to scan the sprockets, but whenever I did the image became washed out.
I actually liked using the camera. It looks cool and is very light to carry. Only having 8 shots means if you use it regularly you really have to think about what you are doing. The two similar shots on the first roll was due to the fact I couldn’t remember if I had taken the shot or not…that is something to be aware of too. On the whole, the shots are quite sharp.
Keep or sell: I left it in Japan with a friend as it wasn’t worth anything monetarily. It might look cool on a shelf, though.