Kodak No. 2 Folding Brownie

The oldest camera I currently have is this beautiful No. 2 Folding Brownie by Kodak from 1902. It does indeed still work, though so far my only test has been with a bit of instant film and it came out incredibly blurry.

Whose fault is this? Well, I used bulb mode on a 120 year old camera that kind of “sticks” a little. So that seems like a me problem. When I take it out in to the sunlight using it’s predetermined setting, I’m sure I’ll be more successful.

The Mechanics

Taking it out in the world won’t be difficult, either, because this lovely camera takes 120 film natively. No respooling or anything. Though, I did find it with a spool already inside. A wooden spool. How amazing is that? Little finds like this, from a world before plastic even existed, give me more joy than I can explain.

There are three shutter modes and three aperture modes to this camera

The shutter modes are I (Instantaneous) B (Bulb) and T (Time)

  • I mode is what we’re used to. Push the shutter button and a spring does the opening and the closing.
  • B mode we’re also used to. Hold the shutter button down to keep the frame exposed until you let go.
  • T mode is not in many cameras since the mid-century. You press the shutter button once, and it is now open. You must press it again to close it.

There are also three aperture modes, which are called 1, 2, and 3. Possibly something like f11, f16, and f22. None of these older cameras have very open diaphragm choices which I have always found interesting. This would make the camera much more useful for the average person, I think. Clearly they figured this out at some point. Maybe the aesthetic of depth of field was not attractive 120 years ago.

Focusing is done by guessing. Measuring is an option if you have a little Kodak tape measure; or using an external rangefinder. Estimating distances is something my brain has lots of trouble with, so I have indeed purchased two external rangefinders (one in metric and one is US imperial, and this camera uses both).

We can focus at 2.5, 6, or 30 metres; or 8, 20, and 100 feet.

Composing a shot was done through a little viewfinder on the body, but that is much too fogged over to use now. Even in bright light, I cannot see through it. It’s a shame.

Rolls Taken With This Camera

None yet!

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