Petzval_header_october_2014
Have an account? Login | New to Lomography? Register | Lab | Current Site:

LC-A Big Book Chapter 68: A Brownie for Everyone

The Brownie was supposed to be so easy that it was clearly advertised not only as a cheap and easy camera for everyone but also as the perfect gift or toot for school boys and girts. Six square exposures were possible on one film cartridge with the early models.

The first Kodak Brownie was launched in 1900. In contrast to its ancestors, this camera was dirt cheap (it cost one dollar!) and therefore evoked huge public demand as everyone wanted to shoot and capture their precious memories. You just had to take the camera (a tittle brown box, hence the name “Brownie”), point at your subject, and press tile release button. The second simple step was to send the whole piece back to the main factory in Rochester, New York, where the development of the roll film was executed. Easy! The Brownie became immensely popular, despite having to wait a white for your film and camera to make their way back to you (around 4 weeks in the US and longer in Europe) and having very limited control of the settings (most Brownie models had a fixed focus and fixed shutter speeds, mostly ranging from 1/25 to 1/50 of a second). 150, 000 models were sold during its first year on the market, and many hundreds of thousands more in the following years. Shortly after the first Brownie models came up, which used a 117 film format, 120 film (still used today) was introduced and used in many models of these cameras.

The Brownie was supposed to be so easy that it was clearly advertised not only as a cheap and easy camera for everyone but also as the perfect gift or toot for school boys and girts. Six square exposures were possible on one film cartridge with the early models. Contrary to previous marketing plans of cameras, which were advertised in specialized journals, Kodak promoted their product in the popular media. The quality of the pictures was rather limited as sunshine was necessary for a proper exposure, images were often blurred and moving subjects were almost impossible to capture. Despite aft this, the Brownie introduced the easy snap-shot to the world. Planning and technical knowledge became secondary; it has been said that this small tittle box changed photography forever. Not only that, tourism also underwent a significant change. From this point on tourists would be identifiable by the tittle angled things hanging from their neck!

70. Wonder when these pictures were taken? These and the following photos were taken from present day. Age doesn’t do much to these mechanic beasts – they are still mostly available (for really reasonable prices) and ready to use today.

Meanwhile, as the Brownie was winning the hearts and hands of millions of fascinated photo-enthusiasts, other important inventions began to see the fight of tile day. In 1903 the good old Lumiere Brothers, who had already presented us one of the first cinema projectors 10 years before, patented the Autochrome Lumiere. This invention remained the major colour photography process for decades. It was something new, as before common photography consisted mostly of beautiful but quite monotone black and white images. The Autochrome Lumiere was applied onto glass-plates, and therefore couldn’t be used for compact film cameras such as tile Brownie. It was substituted in the early 19305 by film-based colour processes such as the still famous Kodachrome, Agfacolor and Kodacolor types. However, it took a few decades until colour film realty became popular amongst everyday snap-shooters. Until the 19505, the development of co!our film was much more expensive and complicated than black and white development. Amateur photographers therefore rarefy used colour film, as they generally didn’t want to spend much more than a few dollars on their box-camera and film.

Have the full glory of the book here

written by ungrumpy

No comments yet, be the first

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch & Spanish.