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Art Deco Cameras

Kodak Baby Brownie

Specification

Baby-brownie Special
Kodak Baby Brownie Special
Manufacturer: Kodak
Produced: 1939 - 1954
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Solid Body
Film Type:127
Film Width:46mm
ImageSize:1⅝ x 2½ in
Lens Type: uncoated meniscus
Focal Length:60mm
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Range:5ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Fixed
Aperture:f/11
Shutter Type :Rotary
Shutter Speeds:T, I*(1/30sec)
Size (w x h x d):78 x 66 x 72 mm
Weight:195g
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star star star
Significant: Pronounced and self evident

I consider this camera to warrant 4 stars for the following attributes:

Description

The Kodak Baby Brownie Special is a tiny Bakelite medium format film box camera made by Kodak in Rochester, NY, USA. It was a replacement for the Kodak Baby Brownie which was improved by adding an optical viewfinder. Like several other cameras sold by Kodak in the 1930s and 40s, the Baby Brownie Special was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague. The camera body is made from moulded Bakelite with a linear stepped pattern surrounding the camera. It has an optical finder also with stepped linear pattern in Bakelite. The shutter is operated by a white plastic push button at the side of the lens. The film winder is also in white plastic. The body has two halves which are held together by a sliding latch on either side. The front part has the shutter, lens and film transport. The back is just a box carrying the viewfinder and red window. It has a curved film plane. Export models in 1939 had a button for brief time exposures.

For those wishing buy one of these cameras to take pictures, please be aware that the Bakelite has become very brittle and many specimens of this camera have broken seals. So look carefully at the seals before purchasing. Also the viewfinder is detachable so some are missing this piece. I had to buy 3 of these on Ebay before I got one with complete seals and a viewfinder.

How to Use

This camera takes 127 film which is still available from select outlets - search for 'Rera Pan 100-127' which is a black & white film. For those photographers in the UK, try Nick & Trick photographic services. If you want to use a particular type of film which is not available commercially, then you can cut your own 127 film from any 120 film. See my page on 'How to cut 127 film from 120 film'.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

Remember that the exposure guide in the camera user manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

The table assumes that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summer's day in the UK.

This camera has an aperture of f/11 and a shutter speed is 1/30s.

As the shutter speed is only 1/30s, it is advisable to try to hold the camera against a wall or other solid object. For quick snapshots, hold it firmly against your face.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/30s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
Sunny
Snow/Sand
Dark
with sharp edges
f/11+4 Stops
Overexposed
Unacceptable
SunnyDistinctf/11+3 Stops
Overexposed
Acceptable
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/11+2 Stops
Overexposed
Acceptable
OvercastBarely visiblef/11+1 Stop
Overexposed
Acceptable
Heavy OvercastNonef/11Good
Open Shade
/Sunset
Nonef/11-1 Stop
Underexposed
Acceptable