Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brownie Color

I shot the second roll of Konica 160 in my Kodak Brownie Reflex.  This was the first opportunity I have had to shoot color in the little 127 box camera, and I was quite pleased with results obtained from the expired film which seemed a good fit with the camera.  My judgment in this regard may be a bit clouded by sentimentality; the Brownie Reflex was produced in the year of my birth.

The elegant little Brownie Reflex was in production from 1940 to 1941. In 1942 Kodak added a capability to use flash in the succeeding "Synchro" model; that became one of the company's longest lived cameras, being produced in Great Britain until 1960. The camera's compactness was owed to its use of the 4cm-square 127 roll film format. The unique style is attributable in part to the fact that the inventor, Henry O. Drotning, came to Kodak with a background in designing mechanical music toys. Drotning filed his patent for the Brownie Reflex early in 1940, making it one the early roll film designs featuring a large and brilliant reflective viewfinder which would become very prevalent in the post-war years. (The British Ensign Ful-Vue came along slightly earlier in 1939, but the first was probably the Voigtländer Brillant in 1932.)

The non-flash model of the Brownie Reflex is uncommon. I was pleased to find myself on ebay as the only bidder on one, and I got it for just five dollars. The camera's exterior had only small blemishes from use. Inside, however, I discovered that the bakelite film carrier had broken away from the base. Someone, many years previously, had repaired the damage quite carefully with glue and cellophane tape. However, the tape and glue were yellow and brittle, and no longer held the parts together. I cleaned up the break, glued the parts together and added a bead of JB Weld all around the seam. Dismantling the camera was uncomplicated and enabled cleaning of the optics and the simple shutter.

The manual for the Kodak Brownie Reflex is available at the Butkus site.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Derby Color

The Albuquerque sky is a little hazy this week because of a couple fires burning in the north end of the state.  The one burning up near Los Alamos caused us to make a hasty exit from our Jemez Falls campground on Thursday.  The haze makes some nice opportunities to capture saturated color, but getting the exposure just right with the Foth Derby is a little tricky due to the odd progression of f-stops, which goes 3.5, 4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.5, 18.

I've mostly been shooting Portra 160 in the Foth Derby lately, but I was able to try some Konica 160 recently due to the generosity of James Harr who sent me a couple rolls.  The Konica 160 is fine grained like the Portra, but I would not hazard further comparisons given the many variables of shooting old film in an old camera.  In any case, I was pleased with the results.

I am not willing to pay the going price for 127 film these days, so am fortunate to have a bulk roll of Portra 160.  Rolling the film into a strip of backing paper is a bit of a chore, but it does make handling the film and shooting it a lot more convenient than shooting unbacked film which must be loaded in darkness, and which sometimes interferes with focal plane shutter operation in the Foth Derby.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

my new pony

This is the ebay seller's picture which sold me on a new Kodak Pony 828.  On the far right you can see that the little tab on the latch is intact.  He also said everything was working fine on the camera, and even posted some pictures made with it.

I was the only bidder and paid $5 for the camera and another $5 for shipping.  I cleaned the inside of the viewfinder, but nothing else was needed.

The pictures on the first roll of Fuji 400 included our yearly visit to see the Yerba Mansa blooming near the Rio Grande south of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  The blossoms are especially tall and plentiful this year thanks to the river's high water.  We also found and enjoyed large amounts of mulberries and wolf berries.  The dog had a blast racing through the cottonwood forest.

Monday, June 05, 2017


I made some 127 backing paper using some old Efke as a template.  I rolled up a two-foot strip of Portra 160 in the backing paper and shot it in my Foth Derby.  I was pleased to get 16 perfectly spaced frames.  It is likely I'll do this many more times as I've got enough film left in the bulk roll to make about forty rolls of 127.  The film was free and it costs me only about a buck per roll for the Unicolor C-41 processing.

Getting the 127 film into a form that is ready to use requires some effort, but it does get easier with practice.  I think my next step will be to try to shoehorn a card table into my little bathroom to give myself a bit more working room than is available in my dark bag.  I'll probably try shooting some of my other 127 cameras as well.  The Kodak Brownie Reflex has a marvelously bright screen which makes it a real pleasure to shoot.