I had a chance to take some photos with one of the most popular cameras from the 1950’s and 60’s : The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.
This little Bakelite gem is a 65 year old “point and shoot” camera. It has a fixed focus lens, single speed shutter and bulb for longer exposures.
I have found several of these cameras for my Etsy shop. Most are fairly dirty both inside and out. Luckily they are fairly easy to both take apart and clean with only a few screws and some elbow grease to get everything crisp and clear again.
This model is stamped “YIRA” on the inside of the camera just behind the take up spool. Using the Kodak Code “CAMEROSITY” determines the month and date of manufacture for this camera:
This particular Kodak Hawkeye was made in 0851 – August of 1951.
After cleaning up this camera, I wanted to take it out and make some photographs. I’ve read that 120 spools will fit inside this camera without modifying the spool or re-spooling the film. I tried a roll of Ilford HP5 and the spool ends were too large. The film had too much tension and it wanted to tear the paper backing when loading.
I took a pair of nail clippers and trimmed the ends of the spool down to the same size as the 620 take-up spool. Reinserted the roll of film into the camera and it fit perfectly!
After getting the camera properly loaded, I used a piece of electrical tape to cover the red window on the back of the camera. This keeps any stray light out while shooting, only removing the tape to advance to the next frame.
The camera is fairly straight forward. A waist level finder is used to compose the photo. The shutter button on the right trips the shutter, and the advance knob on the right winds the film to the next frame after each exposure. There is no synchronization on this camera, you have to always manually advance the film after each exposure. It is also easy to make a double exposure, so you have to keep track of when you advance the film.
I processed the film and was surprised to see all of the negatives exposed fairly well. The lens is roughly a 85mm lens at f/16. With 400 ISO film on a partly sunny afternoon, I was hoping for the best. It makes 12 square 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch negatives per roll. Shooting in the square format is always fun, and a different challenge from shooting in a rectangle.
Bottom line: 120 film will fit with just a bit of modification, and it was a fun little camera to shoot with. I can’t wait to shoot some more with it in the future!
Categories: Camera Review