Using older cameras
I had read through some of the older threads and ran across one where some of the folks were talking about using some of their older cameras. Even the old box cameras. What I would like to know is; how do the images come out?
The reason I ask is that I have a few old ones myself. I have a Brownie No.2 by Kodak. I just looked at it and the others. I am not sure about using it since the glass did not look in very good shape.
I do have another box camera. This one has Marvel S-20 on the leather handle on top. It also has a viewing glass on top in the left front corner looking from the rear. On the right side is the winding knob for the film spool, another window in the top front corner next to the knob. Below the window are two levers; a small one marked "bulb" and a larger one marked "shutter".
On the front are three openings. Two small ones at the top which I would say are for the viewing windows. The larger opening would be the lens and it has a moveable, black ring and a graduated series of marks all around it.
Open the rear cover and you have the patent numbers on the inside part of the cover. There is also a pull out box where you would load the film. My question would be is it worth trying to run film through it?
Then I have a Kodak Duraflex II twin lens reflex camera. I actually have two of them, but I would only consider the one to be film worthy. My only question on this one would be what do I need to do to it to get it ready. The glass seems to be in good shape, but in need of some good cleaning. Is this something I can do myself, or do I need a pro to do it? I would love to be able to use this old camera if I can.
Most of the older cameras are pretty easy to work on, especially if all you need to do is clean them. Definitely do this one yourself, getting a pro to even think about cleaning it will cost several times what the cameras are worth. I believe the Duaflex is a pseudo TLR, really just a jazzed up box camera. You may need to respool 120 onto 620 spools, or buy some 620 for it. I'd try the Brownie first, with some really slow film, maybe even ortho.
Unless one is attempting to make very large enlargements, you might be surprised about what an older camera is capable of.
For example - I was putting around with a Kodak Brownie (6x9) which used 620 roll-film (I modified it to take 120), a miniscus lens (no focusing) and no control over shutter speed or aperture. I happened to have it in my car when I spotted a house on fire, with the local fire department putting out the flames. Very dramatic.
I stopped my car and shot the roll, which I processed at home and scanned on my flat-bed scanner. I emailed the resulting negs to the local paper, and they printed one of them. Probably the first time a Brownie had been used for reportage in 50 years:
By the way, the fire, as it turned out, was a training fire. The house had been owned by the city for back taxes for decades, sat abandoned, and was being used as a crack house, so they emptied it and torched it. I didn't know that at the time, so the newspaper thought it was more interesting that I had used a Brownie than that I had submitted photos of a fire.
Here are some more examples, taken from a 6x6 Brownie Hawkeye:
Here's the camera that took them:
I feel that the photos rendered by such primitive cameras have a unique character to them that, while it may not be up to today's standards of sharpness and high contrast, are certainly interesting for the effect they achieve. And they're fun. That counts too.
Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote
Very cool Wiggy.
Here is a test shot I snapped with a 1930's era Ansco Shureshot Box camera. It takes 120 film. The 120 format has been around a long time and with a little looking you can find old box cameras that take 120 without respooling or modification. A few cameras will also shoot 620 or 120 spool interchangably.
It isn't the sharpest thing in the world, but with a 6x8 neg it doesn't need to be, and has nice soft edges without fall off.
Um, folks, why handicap yourself with a crappy old camera when you can get better results with a good old camera? If, that is, you have it with you ready to use when you need it. Being there is a prerequisite ...
I ask because I shoot all sorts of lenses, some made before WWI, on 2x3 Graphics made before 1950. I b'lieve I can do more with my Graphics than I could with a box camera.
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It's fun to play with crappy old 8 buck cameras. I didn't know about the contest.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
I do rather agree. It can be interesting to try old, cheap cameras, but it's very disappointing when you get a picture that would have been really good if you'd used a better camera. I almost never bother with box cameras and quite honestly I've found very few folders that I was too keen on either.
Ok I'll clarify a bit. I have a collection of junky old folders and box cameras. I don't use them when it matters. These days I shoot 8x10 when it matters, which is fine for the work I'm doing. It is a fun break to put a roll in one of the crappy cameras and go out in the yard and see if I can make it work. Every little thing I do with a camera doesn't have to aspire to be some masterpiece. That would ruin it for me. Kind of like Holga, but even more random.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
Fair do's. Then again I'm no Holga fan either. It's all opinion. Whatever turns you on!
Originally Posted by JBrunner
I have about 50 "old" cameras and each has its own character and charm, or lack thereof. Several have given results that meet or exceed the results I've achieved with the best of Nikon's 35mm lenses. My oldies are in the formats 110, half frame 35mm, 35mm, 4x4, 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, 4x5 among others. A good photographer can make a masterpiece from a $5 camera just as easily as a snapshooter can take a crappy photo with an 8x10 Ebony. Sharpness isn't everything. I've seen a number of professionals proudly state that they took their published photo(s) with a camera such as these.
Originally Posted by srobb_photo
If it's patented, the camera must be good. You may not get stellar results with your cameras, but it's a lot of (inexpensive) fun getting pictures out of these old contraptions.
Originally Posted by srobb_photo
I don't have a Duaflex, so I can't address it specifically, but some cameras designed for 620 will readily accept 120 spools. If you want help getting these things going, there are several folks on nelsonfoto.com that take a lighter approach to photography and they can answer all of your questions. Go to the Classics forum. A great bunch of people, many of whom cross-pollinate with APUG, RFF, and other sites.
Originally Posted by srobb_photo
Load some film and have fun with them!