Flipping Over the Brownie Hawkeye: Advanced Lomographic Techniques With America’s Favorite Camera


Do you like soft focus? Or soft focus surround? Then check out the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera.

While this isn’t intended as a camera review, (for that, check out Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash) I think a comment or two would be appropriate. The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye was produced from 1949 to 1961 and during that time it was the camera of choice for the American family. Everybody had one. Millions of snapshots were taken. It defined “camera” for most people and was called simply “the Kodak.” It was designed to take 620 film, which is really 120 film on a skinnier spool, but, as the review above noted, most models of the camera will take 120 film on the supply side as long as you use a 620 spool for the take-up spool. The cameras are really easy to find in the United States and you should be able to find one for about 10 dollars. Every Lomographer should have one. Why? Because there’s a little known secret about this camera: a simple modification that transforms this simple snapshot camera into a Lomographic powerhouse!

What is this magic, you ask? Well you just flip the lens! The process is simple:

1. Remove the camera back and set aside.
2. Looking from the rear of the camera locate the two screws on either side of the lens. Remove those screws with a small Phillips screwdriver. This loosens the film gate assembly which also holds the lens in place.
3. Carefully remove the film gate, the lens, and spring washer. Now is a good time to clean the lens.
4. Replace the spring washer, flip the lens so that the convex surface faces the front of the camera and re-install the film gate assembly over the lens and spring washer.
5. Load the camera and shoot.
6. Prepare to be amazed!

The photographs taken with the lens flipped have a narrow sweet spot in the center that’s in focus for objects as close as 1 meter or so, while the edges and distant subjects dissolve into a blur. The resultant images have a dreamy, old-fashioned look to them that is quite appealing, especially in black and white. For a little investment in time and not much money, you can add to your Lomographic arsenal and may actually find that you have a new favorite way to shoot. So get one (your grandparents probably have one they haven’t used in 50 years) and flip the lens and get ready to flip out over your results! Post your best photos and be sure to tag them fBHF, which is Brownie Hawkeye nerd speak for flipped Brownie Hawkeye Flash. Lomo on!

A quick note on purchasing a used Brownie Hawkeye: Try to get one that includes a take up spool, otherwise you’ll need to buy one and they can cost almost as much as the camera. Inspect the camera body carefully; it is made of molded Bakelite, a heavy plastic like material that is brittle. Many may have cracks or chips that are hard to see.

written by kdstevens on 2011-10-21 #gear #tutorials #medium-format #tipster #art-deco #bakelite #box-camera #soft-focus #brownie-hawkeye #620 #camera-modification #bhf #brownie-hawkeye-flash #2-1-4-x-2-1-4 #6-x-6 #the-kodak #meniscus-lens #reversing-the-lens #620-roll-film #soft-focus-surround #1950-s #flipping-the-lens #fbhf


  1. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Wow, that's awesome! I love your pictures! I have such a acamera, but I haven't used it yet. I shall do so asap!

  2. mochilis
    mochilis ·

    Amazing photos! Congrats!

  3. kylethefrench
    kylethefrench ·

    im totally gonna try this with mine, i dont use it that much regular so this could be awesome

  4. dogtanian
    dogtanian ·

    Cool shots, i've seen this done with lubitel 2, i think the guy did it by accident though while trying to repair the camera! Too scared to do it on mine haha

  5. mcrstar
    mcrstar ·

    wery good!!

  6. odax
    odax ·

    This is awesome as!
    I assume it can be done with any Brownie camera?

  7. roberthenry
    roberthenry ·

    Love my Hawkeye. Mine came with original flash bulbs, but sadly I used them :)
    Great camera

  8. zindzee
    zindzee ·

    Wow, what alluring images!!

  9. crismiranda
    crismiranda ·


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