Now, even though I just posted that my plans for my photolife are changing, I still have a few cameras with films inside. So I will be posting more reviews for now, but they will slowly die off.
One of the reasons for the change is because of cameras like this…I hate this camera. In fact I can honestly say I haven’t tried a coronet I do like. So this will be the last one I put a film in. I do have a few more, but due to my new plans for the future, I will not be wasting film in them.
My dislike of this camera is based purely on the viewfinder. I couldn’t see a bloody thing. It was clean enough, but you have to look through it at a specific angle to see anything. I rarely hit that sweet spot. So my test roll shot results were based purely on luck. I don’t think photography should be down to luck.
The one good thing about this 1950s camera is that it can take 620 or 120 film. That is handy, as I didn’t have to respool the film before loading it. Side loading by the way. To be honest, I also kind of liked the ratchety wind on mechanism. It clicked as you turned the knob, but a clicky knob can’t save it in my eyes.
The days I used the D-20 were dull so there was no need to use the built in filter for bright days. Oh I have to say, the plastic strap was equally annoying. It never quite went straight and was uncomfortable around my neck.
Not my favourite results. The one on the bottom, the field, was supposed to be of a cow, but I couldn’t see it in the viewfinder.
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.
I have been working a lot the past few weeks, preparing for the lack of funds over the winter break. That combined with the rain and the short days does not make for many opportunities to use cameras like this one. I liked the look of this camera from the start. As a bonus it was easy to take apart and clean. Just undo the screw at the front and the mirrors are accessible.
For me, the best thing about this camera was the “Made in England” proudly displayed on the front. Searching for information on the camera proved a little fruitless, there isn’t much. I found nothing but photos of this version, with very little test attached. A very similar camera has more written about it, stating it was on sale around 1955. The company has a bit more information to be found. This site says it was based in Birmingham and originally called Standard Cameras Ltd, they also made Coronet cameras. Any other information you need has to be garnered by looking at the photos.
* There is a closeup and distance setting on the lens barrel. * There is a green filter option, accessed with a slider on the side, to be used with foliage to make the shades more natural and dark green leaves lighter. * There are two large, bright viewfinders for portrait or landscape shots. * There is no tripod mount or cable release which is unfortunate as the shutter speed is probably around 1/40th-1/50th * The aperture is set, probably to f11 * There is a bulb setting, again there is no tripod or cable release to make using this function more effective. * The camera accepts 120 or 620 film. I used 120 but I found the film hard to advance so I think the 620 roll would be a better fit. * The film is placed in the camera opposite to regular box cameras. You insert on the bottom and transfer to the top. * There are two hooks to keep the camera closed. On my version they would slip off and leave the camera prone to opening slightly. It would be better to tape those down while using it.
I can’t think of anything else. So here are my test shots taken around Victoria Tower, Huddersfield. I went to this location as it was a lovely but cold sunny day, and we haven’t had a lot of those recently. This place would be a bit tricky to get to on a bad winter’s day as it is really exposed.
When I developed the film I was excited to see the results. On the negative, the images looked clear, sharp and contrasty. But on scanning, you can see a few soft spots on them. The focusing drifts throughout the shots. The last one was a timed shot taken inside of my father reading as the rain came back. I held the camera on a sturdy book for about 30 seconds, with the near setting activated, though I don’t think a tripod would have helped with the softness of the focus.
Though I do still like the look of the camera, I doubt I will use it again. The images are too soft and the winder was too stiff.
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.
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.
Last weekend I was invited to sell some of my cameras at a local vintage fair. I say invited, but I had to rent the table of course. What I mean is, I had forgotten all about it and received and email reminding me and hoping that I would be there.
At first I declined. Last time, I only sold 3 cameras, but gained 4 or something like that. I just about covered the cost of the stall. My wares were a bit of a curiosity, different from the other vintage stalls, a topic of conversation…not real antiques or vintage apparently. But then I remembered HOW many people I spoke to and the man who gave me the Contax RTS III. I still have that, maybe he would come to the fair again and I could hand it back?
So I changed my mind and said yes. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have enough cameras to sell…ha ha ha what was I thinking and this was before I got a heap of brownies.
I packed the night before and while doing so made a list of prices. Last time I put the price on the camera which seemed to stop people looking altogether. This way the customers had to ask, and seeing as they were talking to me anyway it seemed the way to go.
Last time I was a newby and felt out of place. This time, I was in the club and the other store holders remembered me, it felt much friendlier. Some of the other stall holders asked me about cameras and what to charge. One offered to sell me his father’s old camera, but the price I could offer was way less than it was worth sentimentally to him.
I set my table up in price order, that way I knew where to keep my eyes it if got busy or I left the table for a drink or bathroom break. The person on the next stall happened to be wearing the same jumper as me, so we were immediately friends. We covered for each other.
I sold a point and shoot almost immediately, then later another and finally the Olympus O-Product. It was a camera I had searched for and would have been happy to keep, but ultimately I wasn’t using. The prices for that camera have gone up recently and will probably continue to rise. I got a fair price for it and it happened to be the buyers birthday, lucky for us both. That was another reason for not putting prices on things, prices are going up. The last time I was there the o-product would probably have been half the price I eventually got for it.
Money in my pocket time for cake! They are smaller than they look.
The day went very quickly for me. I was posting photos online and I got a couple of nibbles on one of the camera forums I am in for other cameras.
And of course I chatted with lots of people. I gave demonstrations and answered questions, especially to children. I am a teacher after all. Some of the children had never seen a film camera let alone held one. Seeing a child hold a hundred year old camera was charming to say the least.
One couple said they had a camera at home they would like to sell, they described it to be and I knew exactly what it was. They went home and brought it in to show me, a polaroid land camera. I really wanted to buy it, but at that time I had not sold the o-product so didn’t have any spare cash. I am too honest so I showed them what they were fetching online and gave them a very low price I would offer. I explained I would have to test it and film was expensive. I even suggested they didn’t sell it to me but post it online as they would get more.
And finally it happened a woman came to the store and told me she had a Leica in the cupboard that her father had brought back from Germany after the war. She doesn’t know what to do with it or anything about it, but it is definitely a Leica.
I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT!!!!!!!! Please let me see it, please let me try it. I could at least let you know if it is working and what it might be worth????? PLEEEEEASE. But she laughed, took a card and walked away 😦
Anyway it was a nice day and I will do it again as I now have a world of Brownies. Roll on March.
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.