Festive Brownie Camera Reading Light


Vintage cameras that work in the store don’t always function properly. Before you get rid of that old camera that doesn’t take pictures, read this guide on how to turn a bummer buy into a lovely and festive light.

Purchasing vintage cameras require a certain leap of faith and sometimes instead of landing on your feet, your fall flat on your ass. Take my Brownie Junior Six-20. I spotted it in an antique shop and thought it was a bit overpriced at eight bucks, but I got it anyways (turns out that’s about list price but I digress).

After figuring out how to get the damn thing open I shot a roll of film (which I haven’t developed yet). When I tried to get the camera open to retrieve the film, it was jammed. The back just would not come off. Disgusted, I set it on a shelf until this afternoon. I decided to pry it open using two small screwdrivers and discovered that the full take up reel had problems fitting. That, coupled with the monumental effort it took just to open and close the camera rendered it inefficient to use as a picture-taking camera. It’s destiny was to forever sit on some decorative shelves until, I had a lightbulb moment.

I’ve had the idea of making a light out of a camera since I saw one a few months ago. I knew it would be pretty simple and it truly is. Here’s how I did it. You need a camera in which the aperture can remain open and a light source. In this case it’s my old piece-of-crap Brownie and a little reading light that I got from the dollar store.

To keep the Brownie’s aperture open you simply need to pull out the little lever on the side (look below the red crayon) then push the exposure lever down. Then, position the light so that it aims directly through the open lens. You may need to stuff some paper or other soft filler behind the light so that it doesn’t move out of place.

That’s it! It’s not very bright as you can see, but it’s much more interesting looking than your standard silver and black model flashlight. I’m really glad I was able to give a new life to this old beauty. It may have fallen pretty flat as a camera but it lights up my nights as a light and kids are having a blast with it. Plus, I think it might look quite nice dressed up in some festive decor and placed on my mantlepiece or even on my Christmas tree!

written by ipdegirl on 2011-12-08 #gear #tutorials #holiday #diy #light #camera #play #box #reading #brownie #tipster #decoration #recycle #festive #how-to #reuse


  1. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    you know why it jammed? because it is a 620 film camera, which is a format you don't get anymore. the 120film has too big reels to properly work in that camera. you could have easily modified the spool and it should have worked just fine ;)

  2. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    and you must have used a hell of force to close it in the first place. my six-20 brownie works just fine ;)

  3. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    I had some re-rolled 620 in it. It was still crazy goofed-up. Maybe it was dropped one too many times when it was a wee little cam.

  4. jurquidi
    jurquidi ·

    I think Lomography needs a forum or something. I get plenty of vintage and Russian cameras that aren't hard to fix.

    Still, I hate seeing older cameras not being used as cameras and just sitting on shelves. I'm sure you tried to figure it out what was going on, but with the right advice, you could have had one interesting piece of history that works.

    I got my Six-16 Brownie Jr not too long ago and I'm having fun with it... (filmspooler.com)

More Interesting Articles