Mugging Out at the Playground

Cosina CX-2 Test
[Taken 1 October 2016]

This was the last frame from the maiden voyage of the Cosina CX-2, precursor to the Lomo LC-A. Expect an actual in-depth review sometime soon, but the tl;dr version is that Lomo did a pretty good job of copying this camera, for the most part, but the Cosina feels a bit more reliable.

I haven’t taken my Lomo for a spin for a good seven years or so, mainly because if I want a compact film camera that can be fully automatic, I’ll just take the Olympus XA — and I rarely want that high-contrast “Lomo” look about my photos these days. The Cosina, though… it has all the charm of my LC-A with none of the fuss. It might get some time to shine.

The Official Boy Scout 3-Way Camera

boys life ad for $6.95

I found the Official Boy Scout 3-Way Camera at the local antique mall back in late March — I probably shouldn’t have paid $14.50 plus tax for it, but I did. Not the entire kit, as advertised above in the December 1959 issue of Boys Life, but just the camera.

And it still had film in it!

multiple exposure

I finished the roll of film in the camera with my son — alas, the photo above, taken in the antique mall, was the only “found” photo that came out. The photos we took at home on the found roll were actually fairly salvageable with only minor digital tweaks.


Kodak Brownie Fiesta R4

Me with my Brownie FiestaI 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 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.

The Oliver House

Danger: Construction Site No Trespassing

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.

Lubitel 2 Test Roll

Lubitel 2I 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.


Voigtländer Brilliant Test Roll

voigtlander brilliantI 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.



Brownie Reflex 20 Test Roll

Brownie Reflex 20I 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.

Imperial Flash Mark XII Test Roll

Imperial Flash Mark XIIWhen 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.



Pickwik Reflex Test Roll

Pickwik Reflex with Cat 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.