Some of my favorite cameras finds have been 127 cameras. These were popular back in the day that a lot of companies made simple inexpensive, Bakelite models that still take great lo-fi pictures today.
There’s not much to tinker on the Kodak Baby Brownie Special. It takes 127 films and easily comes apart into two pieces by pushing the metal hinges along its sides. At the rear of the camera is a centered, clear red window and a cream colored shutter button can be found at the front. The matching advance knob is located at the top and turns easily. A simple viewfinder, which dimensions are pretty good for lining up your shots, is also located on top.
According to Camerapedia, its technical stats are:
• Lens: meniscus lens f/11
• Focus range: 5 feet to inf
• Focusing: fixed focus
• Shutter: 1/40
The 127 format
Some 127 films are still being made. I like the Rollei B&W that you can find on B&H photo but there are a couple other ways to use a 127 camera as well. You can cut down 120 films (I’ve seen it done with a cigar cutter) or just roll 35mm into 127 spools. Because 35mm isn’t as wide as 127, using it won’t give you the full frame available but it will expose sprocket holes for some cool effects.
Any way you want to look at it, its great to work with 127 cameras and there are a lot of inexpensive options available given the previous popularity of this film size.
Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park
I tried out my first roll in the Baby Brownie Special rowing around Stow lake in Golden Gate Park. Here are some of those shots:
Its little lens produces some great vignetting. It’s closest focusing distance is about five feet and from there the edges blur out wonderfully. Also, you can see the great landscape aspect ratio you can end up with.
In The Dark Room
The dimensions of negatives from Baby Brownie is 4 × 6.5 cm. Technically 127 is a medium format film and these pictures can be blew up really well. It’s a unique treat to create large prints from such a small plastic camera.
Here is a print I worked on using a 11×14 Ilford Fiber paper. I had to use a 120 film holder but I’m sure you can still find 127 holders out there. It was a little difficult to get seated correctly but the print, with all that beautiful vignetting, came out great.
Darkroom work tonight 127 size film on 11×14 paper pic.twitter.com/x3d9WKDfMk
— Mark L. Hannah (@MLHannahFineArt) March 23, 2016
All in all, the Kodak Baby Brownie Special is one of my favorite plastic 127 cameras. It’s so small and simple that I’ve started carrying it with me all the time—-loaded and ready to go—-so I can keep experimenting with it’s classic lo-fi effect.