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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.

7 comments:

James Harr said...

A good fit indeed! I have a similar Argus Super Seventy-five. It is a 620 shooter, but the design and materials are very much the same. The finder is really big and bright! It is a fun camera to shoot with. I love using JB Weld on bakelite. It holds strong and can be shaped before it's cured and sanded after. I have fixed both of my BHF's with it.

Jim Grey said...

Oh lovely. Nice to see this little box get some use. I don't think I've ever seen a non-Synchro Model except in photographs. I've owned two Synchro Models but both have had non-repairable problems.

Mike said...

I still had a little leak after the repair which shows up in the lower right corner of some images. Nothing that stops me from using the camera, however, and I really like the unique, compact design.

James said...

Lovely shots. I just picked up a 120-to-127 film cutter. I'm very eager to try some fresh Ektar and Portra in my 127 cameras. I'm sure the lenses that aren't plastic are mostly uncoated and were never meant for color film, so it's going to be interesting to see what results.

Mike said...

I'll look forward to the report on the film slitter. It is something I need to do as well as I'd like to shoot some b&w in addition to the bulk color.

JR Smith said...

I really like the "cones" shot. It must be very satisfying using a camera like this and getting such good results!

Mike said...

Nearly all my box cameras surprise me with the quality of their images. I think the small apertures and the larger format make up for a lot of the shortcomings of the simple lenses.