I purchased the Kodak Brownie Fiesta R4 at an antique mall last July for $8.30 (discounted from $10). Once spring rolled around and I found myself looking for a camera to take out, I loaded it up with expired (2014) Bluefire Murano film, ISO 160.
A quick check of brownie-camera.com told me that the exposure is fixed at 1/40 sec @ f/11, so I knew to keep this bad boy very, very still. In the end, though, I didn’t see any discernible difference between the shots where I braced the camera against a fence post or railing and the shots I handheld.
I’m really not sure why I continue to collect fixed-focus Brownie cameras. So many of them end up being reliable snapshot cameras — which is what they were designed to be — and nothing more. (See also: Brownie Reflex 20, Brownie Starmite) This one is no exception. It has a minor light leak at the bottom of the frame, but apart from that, the exposures (on a sunny day) were crisp and spot-on.
I posted the entire roll to Flickr, but the long and short of it is that I’m not enamored with this camera. I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t have the je ne sais quoi I require for a camera to go into regular rotation. I’ll probably come back to it later with a roll of black and white and try again, but not for some time. For now, it’s going to sit on the shelf with my other Brownies.
I bought the Lubitel 2 on eBay back in August 2015 for $80 — cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted (CLA). It was the first camera I’d bought that was CLA — most of my purchases were more bargain-basement prices and labeled “as-is,” so I figured that it was worth the splurge. Plus, it was being shipped from Mother Russia, and not too many of them seemed to be coming up for sale, so I figured I’d better jump on it if I wanted one. (Had I just been patient and bought one six months later, I could have gotten it for half the price, according to an eBay search of completed auctions today. D’oh!)
After getting the images back from my test roll, I’m having more than a touch of buyer’s remorse. It’s a sweet bit of Cyrillic to have in my collection, but it’s not going to be one of my more frequently used cameras.
[Taken 6 September 2015]
My favorite photo from the Lubitel 2 test roll. More details to come in a future post.
I learned about the Voigtländer Brilliant while I was doing a little research on TLRs and pseudo-TLRs. I’d read that the Voigtländer Brilliant V6 was the basis for the LOMO Lubitel TLR, so of course I wanted to get one. Alas, I jumped the gun on an eBay auction without reading carefully and ended up buying the second metal model, rather than the bakelite V6 I’d been wanting.
That’s OK, though. I rather like this little camera. It’s the oldest in my collection, manufactured in 1935, and it definitely takes photos with character.
I picked up the Brownie Reflex 20 for about $12 at a local antique mall back in July. I have a thing for Brownies, and for pseudo-TLRs, especially ones that have a zone focus rather than fixed.
I respooled some expired 120 film onto a 620 spool — my current method is to sit on my basement steps in the dark to do my respooling, and I really hope I get faster at it with practice. Unlike the first time I tried respooling film, I didn’t create any light leaks this time. In fact, the camera was pretty solid in that respect, too.
The short version: It works. It’s not my favorite, but it takes decent photos, and the camera itself looks kind of cool. The shutter speed is so slow that handholding is sometimes iffy, especially with the focus set to infinity. It did take some decent photos in bright sunshine on expired ISO 160, but there’s not much character to them, in my opinion — not much to distinguish this camera from other box cameras I own.
I probably won’t be taking this one out again, but it was a cheap and kitschy addition to my Brownie collection.
When I first bought this camera from the antique mall some eight years ago, I didn’t own any other 620 cameras — and even if I’d had an extra couple of 620 spools handy, it hadn’t even occurred to me to try respooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. I managed to run two rolls of 35mm through the camera to try some sprocket photography, but couldn’t quite get the film plane flat. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I now have enough extra 620 spools to run a real test roll through this cute little camera.
It’s a box camera: there are no settings. Not only that, but my particular camera is missing the rear element on the viewfinder, so the image is teeny tiny and only really usable as a guesstimate unless I squint reeeeally hard.
Other fun features of this camera that I discovered upon seeing the test roll: First, there’s something stuck in the camera (I assume) that’s causing a black triangle shape to appear in the bottom right of almost all the images. (Edit: I’d applied some gaffer’s tape inside the camera to eliminate some emulsion scratches on my sprocket photography rolls, and that was coming off. Mystery solved!) Second, I have what some would consider an enviably kitschy mint green light leak in the bottom center of nearly every image. I’m not keen on it myself, especially since the camera actually makes some decent, otherwise usable images with vignetting and blur at the edges.
I picked up the Pickwik Reflex at a garage sale for $4. As I recall, the woman assumed a camera that old (circa 1940) would only be good for decoration; she was surprised when I told her it looked like it would actually work.
It’s a pseudo-TLR box camera that takes half-frame photos on 127 film (aka Brownie film). No settings other than Instant / Time (Bulb) for long exposures. Online reviewers of this camera generally mention that the half-frames tend to overlap, and that the focus is iffy. Given the heads-up, I was able to wind the film so that the “A” exposure was at the very leading edge and the “B” was at the very trailing edge, so I only got two instances of overlap: the very first four exposures, which were my test of winding the film “correctly” versus intentionally overcorrecting.
As far as the iffy focus, I’m convinced it’s a film plane issue. Each of my exposures were out of focus in one place or another, and they weren’t consistent — not like other toy cameras that have specific sweet spots.
I picked up the Brownie Bullseye at a garage sale at the Old West End Festival a couple of years back for $3 or $4, boxed, with the flash attachment. After letting it sit in its box on top of my camera display shelf for a year or two, I finally got around to running a test roll through it this past May.
The Bullseye takes 620 film, and doesn’t accept 120 spools, so this was my first attempt at respooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal: I sat on my basement stairs in the dark and wound the film onto one 620 spool, then back onto another 620 spool. I’m sure I’ll get quicker at it once I develop the muscle memory.
Surprisingly, I only had a couple of very minor streaks and light leaks thanks to my respooling attempt; for the most part, I really liked the pictures that came from this test roll.
Before this past April, the only time I’d used the Diana Mini that my husband gifted me was immediately afterward, when I took it to the family Christmas gathering and took some square photos. Those were mostly indoors, long exposures steadied against a table, and they came out well enough for a toy camera.
I decided to run another roll through the Diana Mini this past April, to try out some different conditions and to use the half-frame feature, since I took square photos last time.
[Taken 25 April 2015 | f/cloudy | ISO 400]
General impressions: It’s a plastic novelty camera. To expect anything more of it is unreasonable. It’s super cute, hides in a pocket, and is the perfect size for my four-year-old to play with (sans film). It doesn’t have a very sharp focus even in the best of situations, and creates some fascinating lens flare effects in the right (or wrong) light. (more…)
I honestly don’t remember where or when I purchased The Brick, but it was probably at an antique mall or garage sale sometime within the last few years. I finally loaded it up and ran a test roll this past April.
[Taken 24 April 2015 | f/11 @ 1/250 sec | ISO 200]