Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cameras, cameras and more cameras!

You may have noticed that the last few blog posts have been all about new (to me) vintage cameras. I didn’t suddenly run out and buy a bunch of cameras to play with. The truth is I had gotten burned out on constantly trying out new cameras a year or so ago and just recently got over it.

I have actually had a couple of these cameras since last year but was not inspired to “play” with them until now.  When I am “testing” a new camera I am understandably more concerned with the camera than the photograph so the results of these shoots are interesting but not always inspiring. I tend to shoot the same subjects or images over and over again so I can compare the cameras capabilities to others I have shot with. If you have looked through my blog posts you will see that I have done a fair amount of that kind of thing but about a year ago I just got bored with shooting the same images all the time and decided to make the photograph, rather than the camera my focus. At that point I focused on just a couple cameras, mainly pinhole, and started trying to make photographs that made me feel like I had accomplished something of value.

I said all that to explain that after taking nearly a year to pursue my interest in photographs rather than cameras I can now enjoy playing with cameras again too and look forward to getting the film from these latest ones back so I can see the results and share them with you.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brownie Super 27

What can I say about this little 1960’s jewel except it is “super!” This is a 60’s version of a Kodak box camera except like everything in the 1960’s it has a lot of extra “bells & whistles.”

This camera starts out with a clean sleek modern (in a vintage sort of way) design and a big bright (amazingly big & bright) viewfinder. The rotary shutter is working now just as crisply as it did nearly 60 years ago when it was new and has two speeds. 1/80th is the normal shutter speed but if you open the little door to expose the flash it changes to 1/30. 

Did I mention it has a built in flash? Yep, just open the little door that usually conceals it and pop in an AG-1 bulb (if you can find one). Oh, by the way you will have to also put in a couple AA batteries in the battery compartment on the bottom.

The aperture is also rather sophisticated for a box camera. The normal setting is f13.5 for bright sunny days but you can turn the little selector on the front to choose f8 when its cloudy. With the two apertures and two shutter speeds you have a total of four different exposure settings, and a flash! Not too shabby for a simple box camera.

The camera handled well and was a pleasure to shoot as I went through my first roll of 127 Rerapan black & white film. I haven’t found any AG-1 flash bulbs so everything was shot in daylight. The only complaint I had was that the shutter is pretty easy to press so that if you wind after each shot like I do the shutter is always cocked and it is a bit too easy to inadvertently press the shutter when you don’t intend to. I wasted one frame on the roll that way.

This 127 camera shoots in the square format yielding twelve shots. I can’t wait to see how they come out but if the way the camera looks and handles is any indication the pictures should be great!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kodak Brownie Target Six-20

Thanks to my wonderful wife I now have a beautiful vintage box camera like the one my Mama shot all our family photos with back in the 1950’s when I was growing up. I have long wanted one and occasionally looked for one on line but my wife finally bought me one for an anniversary present.

The Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 shown above is about as simple a box camera as you could find but the utter simplicity combined with the super cool art deco face plate add up to one of the all-time classics. It of course shoots 620 film like so many of the old box cameras and the reliable rotary shutter has a single speed of about 1/30th of a second so keeping both camera and subject still during exposure is essential to good results.

There is a little tab next to the shutter that can be pulled out for “Bulb” setting which simply means that when this is done the shutter stays open as long as the shutter lever is depressed – not a great benefit for a camera without a tripod mount. Hand holding a camera for long exposures is generally not the way to get clear photographs.

The lens is a simple meniscus type with two apertures. The normal one is f11 but there is another pull out tab on top which slides a smaller f16 aperture in place for extra depth of field or for use with bright sunlit scenes.

The box is leatherette covered cardboard with a stamped sheet metal film frame and advance. There is the usual little red film counter window on the rear.

That’s it! In a sense it was the original Holga except with better optics and clearly much better build quality. I doubt we’ll be seeing too many Holgas still working 70 years from now. 

I shot a roll of Kodak Portra 400 with it already and should have the 8, 6x9 images back from The Darkroom soon. I will pick one or two of the best ones and post them here with a brief review of my experience with this lovely old camera.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


My friend recently gave me this beautiful old camera but I have been unable to find out much about it so far. "Rekkord" right under the lens is the only marking except on the lens itself where it says "Luminere Anastigmat Nacor 1.6.3  F:135" From that and the little I have been able to glean I believe it is a French, pre-World War II era,  9 x 12 (approx. 3.5” x 4.75”) large format camera. My friend said his Dad brought it back from France where he served in WWII and it had been sitting in his garage with several film holders for years. It is in surprisingly good condition.

Although even my “go to” film lab, The Darkroom, doesn’t develop this size film I was able to find out that Freestyle Photographic actually carries some Fomapan 9x12 black & white film so I may just have to figure out how to process it myself. I have been trying to avoid darkroom work since the 1970’s when I decided I much preferred shooting pictures rather than processing or even post processing images. Still, using a change bag to transfer the film into a Patterson tank and process using the Taco method should be pretty simple. That and scanning a few images should take no more than an hour – not an overwhelming investment in time and effort for the pleasure of seeing how a 70 year old camera still works after all these years.

Stay tuned!