Some days ago, I bought a vintage box camera, a Kodak Brownie n. 2, manufactured between 1928-1935 as a camera for children. It’s very simple to use, like a more recent Kodak Instamatic or an Holga. This is my first impression about this camera. For the film, I used a Lomography Earl Grey 120 film roll.
The Kodak Brownie is one of the most popular “toy camera” of the history of the photography. Its first model is from 1900, and it became very popular in few years. Very simple to use, sold for only $1, and it was intended to be a camera for every people, especially children. The Kodak slogan was the famous: “You push the button, we do the rest!”
This camera has a simple shutter made of a rotating disk with an hole, moved by a spring triggered by a lever (like in a Holga camera). The shutter speed is about 1/50, and the camera has a little lever on the top. Pulling it up, the camera works in B pose. As with a Holga or Diana, you can make multiple exposures! The camera is built like a tank, and its simple shutter, easy to clean, seem to never stop to work!
The lens is a fixed focus (at infinity), its focal length is 105mm, apertures are approx. F16 (maybe F18), F22, F32 and the format of the photos is the classical 6×9cm. This camera uses 120 film! I bought it with a very old (at least 50 years old) film inside, a Kodak Verichrome Pan that was never used!
I wrapped the film without using it, reserving it for a special occasion, and then I removed the roll to clean the interior surface of the lens, which had small signs of dust, easily removed. This camera has two viewfinders. The first one, on the top, is for a vertical composition, while the second, on the lateral side, is for an horizontal composition. The viewfinders are bright, however they are very small and you need few minutes to learn how to compose the image that you view inside a very small window. You can see a small little world into a little rectangular piece of glass!
I tested the camera walking in Milan with a lomo-friend, who carried with her a wonderful Lubitel 166B. The first two photos were taken in Piazza Affari (Businnes Square). Here you can find the sculpture called LOVE (2011) by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, a 36-foot white marble sculpture representing a middle finger of an hand without the other fingers.
As you can see, the sharpness is awesome for a more than 80 years old camera! The lens is a single element, made of pure and uncoated glass. After so many years, it is still bright and without signs of use!
Here another details of the Stock Exchange Palace in Milan. The Earl Grey film has a wonderful grey tones rendition, it is a perfect combination with this camera!
The last series of photos was taken inside the courtyard of Brera Academy in Milan; some are a little underexposed, because when I took these images I didn’t know the exact shutter speed and the apertures of the diaphragm.
It is a pleasure to use this camera!