Browsing online for a source of 127 film to feed Bilora Bella and Kodak Brownie, my father and mother’s teenage cameras respectively. What do I find? A blog explaining how to easily convert the Brownie to accept 35mm film. “I have to give this a go!” I thought.
The instructions were fairly straightforward (see link below) and didn’t involve anything irreparable. Remove a few screws and a spool holder, and you have yourself a quirky, sprocket-revealing vintage gem.
The Kodak Brownie 44A is a basic viewfinder camera, with fixed focus and two aperture settings. The bakelite body came with an attached plastic, flip-over cover which can be clipped on or off. A screw and pin flash operated with the camera but was missing from my version.
Installing the film in the adapted camera is pretty simple, although it runs the ‘wrong way round’ – right to left, and, it has to be said, at a jaunty angle! This can rectified by some carefully place tissue or foam holding the film in place, in such a way that the sprocket holes are evenly exposed.
So, the first film through: a 400iso Fuji Superia, taken out on a fairly bright, sunny day. Loaded in at the jaunty angle, I shot willy-nilly, so desperate was I to see the results. Overexposure seemed to be the problem with this first film, not to mention some slightly random quirks to do with winding on. Mike, the author of the blog explaining the camera’s transformation, wound on a full turn and a half. I followed his advice. For the first five shots or so, this was too little; the final 10 shots, way too much.
Lessons learnt. Round 2. 200iso Fuji Superia, and a vampiric avoidance of direct sunlight. Piece of masking tape on the back instructing me of the winding-on plan: “1-5 1 ¾, 6-10 1 ½, 11+ 1 ¼” along with space to tally off the number of shots taken. The results? The wind-on plan worked to perfection. A rainy day in Paris provided me with some rather noir results, a mysterious sepia tone added to the images. Quite interesting images, but there’s always room for improvement.
All in all, this is a great way to inject some new life into a camera like the Kodak Brownie, and provide some unusual, sprocket shots. I’ll certainly keep shooting with it, and experimenting further, and I urge you to try it too.
Incidentally, Mike at Photosupplies sells 127 film for you non-converted Kodak Brownie