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  1. #1
    Akki14's Avatar
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    Brownies - Toy or not?

    I was looking at the websites selection someone posted here recently and I was excited to see there's a Toy Camera website ring. I looked at the ring's website. It then told me that Brownies are not accepted as toy cameras.

    Why not?

    I recently bought a No. 2 Model E brownie (a box camera made of cardboard) for a few quid from a charity shop and the first negs are drying in my bathroom. They look pretty much in the range of toy camera photography. They weren't especially expensive when they came out as they were photography for the masses, much like other toy cameras out there.

    I think they're a nice bridge between antique and toy camera

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akki14 View Post
    I think they're a nice bridge between antique and toy camera
    Bear in mind that in the UK it is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN to draw any connection between Brownies and photography; you will be thrown in prison as a suspected paedophile and your house will be spray-painted by readers of the red-tops.

    (Note to the puzzled: Brownies are the junior wing of the Girl Guides, known in the USA, perhaps more realistically and less chauvinistically, as Girl Scouts. Red-tops are the gutter newspapers, and readers of one of the more hysterical red-tops did indeed vandalize the house of a paediatrician. Well, it sounds like paedophile, doesn't it? THIS IS A TRUE STORY!).

    Seriously, I love the idea of toy camera snobs: 'No! Your camera's not crappy enough!' Perhaps the difference is that your old Brownie was well designed and well made, whereas toy cameras, for the most part, aren't. I'd out-snob 'em myself: tell the buggers to go out and buy a decent camera for once in their lives.

    Cheers,

    R.

  3. #3

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    Toy or not is in the eye of the beholder.

    Who cares what you use to complete your photographic vision!

    I understand bears really like the taste of Brownies, so don't go in the woods with your camera or a troop of girl scouts. HA!

  4. #4

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    I certainly consider my Brownie Bullet to be a toy; it's not much different from the old Imperial I used to have. But then I used to call my Zeiss Ikon Nettar 516/17 a toy camera (it cost me less than a new Holga). The Brownie Bullet was gifted me, so it knocked the Nettar out of contention.

    K.

  5. #5
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    What I like about my Brownie Hawkeyes is specifically that it does not have the aura of a toy camera: no exotic third world manufacturing in a crappy factory, no light leaks, no magical randomness, in other words, NO IRONY. I like it for what it is. I'm not even mocking secretly the manufacturer.

    It gives me beautifully soft and color-aberratted (what's the opposite of color-corrected?) results on slide film, the kind that arrests the eye because it's not common anymore. It frees me from the Tyranny of Correct Exposure just like a Holga but did so for chump change, and I can use flashbulbs with it.

    It's a classic design, it works as a self-defense tool, has a waist-level finder for that classic Brownie Pose, or for carrying it at waist level in my lowered hand, aimed and operated from a glance into the viewfinder.

    And it has a handle! How many cameras have an integrated handle beside box cameras? Polaroid cameras, and that's about it.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    And it has a handle! How many cameras have an integrated handle beside box cameras? Polaroid cameras, and that's about it.
    Linhof Technikas, and most press or metal-body view cameras...

    Loved your point about NO IRONY, though.

    Cheers,

    R.

  7. #7
    Alex Bishop-Thorpe's Avatar
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    A box brownie was the first camera I used for medium format, actually the first camera I used and developed my own film, and I'm still impressed by the results I get from it. They're actually quite accurate little cameras if you can work within their limitations...but since they have no light leaks or full plastic construction, I suppose some people would feel fit to dismiss them as not worthy of toy camera status. I guess like the people who'd laugh at you when I bring playing cards to school instead of the latest trading cards Just take photos, if anyone complains it's their problem.
    The Analogue Laboratory, or 'so you built a darkroom in an old factory in the industrial zone'.
    Blog thing!.

    Worry less. Photograph more.

  8. #8
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    As my dad was using a Rollieflex at the time, I (a lad of 6 or 7) just felt totally in step with my Brownie Hawkeye because we both looked down at a prism finder. I loved! that camera which may well be the main reason I still love looking in a viewfinder today. I never thought of it as a toy...just a "junior" piece of equipment.
    John Voss

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  9. #9
    Akki14's Avatar
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    There's Brownie troops in the US (I know location says UK but I was born and raised in the US) and in the UK. People tend to think you're carrying tasty chocolate brownies when you say you have a Brownie in your bag
    I am quite impressed that, even though my Brownie is a cardboard box, I've only found a tiny lightleak at the top so it's now taped up, just like the Holgas I have (except my Holgas don't leak light and don't vignette! They're useless as "toy cameras")
    I like the handle on my brownie... it feels and looks like real leather (that's where all the money went into making them!) and I can freak out people by holding it like a camcorder
    Hopefully I can at least try to scan in some of the negs from the Brownie tonight.

  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    My first camera was a Brownie Starmatic - a toy? no way!!

    AG1B's at 10 paces, I say!

    (now where is that 127 Kodacolour when I need it?)

    Matt

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