Box Brownie: The Hi-Tech features!

If you have read any of my other posts about my Kodak Box Brownie No 2 you will already understand that one of the many things that attracted me to this camera to begin with was how easy it is too use.

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Some may say it is basic, primitive even.  I say it has a magical simplicity.

It is easy to forget with all our modern day gadgetry that at the time the Brownie was produced it was the latest thing.  This was Hi-Tech!  So with that in mind I thought I would highlight for you some of this camera’s specifications, it’s features if you will.

So this is my brownie:


It was available in several colours including blue and red and was produced about 1920ish.


It comes with one basis lens which doesn’t have any zoom or focusing capabilities per se.  The Brownie will find it difficult to focus on anything within about 6′ of the camera. But it will capture in sharpest detail anything in the middle ground . . .





The shutter, which is ultimately how you take your picture, is this tiny little level on the side.  You flick it one way it takes a shot, flick it the other way it takes another shot.  It basically just opens the little door covering the lens.  If you find one of these cameras for sale this is the one feature, other than the condition of the lens, that you need to check . . . oh and the winder . . .



After you have flicked your shutter switch in order not to have a double exposure you need to wind the film on.  This is the winder. Mine turns anti-clockwise.  Keep turning until the next number appears in the red window. . .





This is the film counter window in the back of the camera it allows you to see how many of your 8 shots you have left, it also lets you know that you have loaded the film correctly in the first place as you wind it on and watch the little black arrows past behind it . . .



There are two view finders, one portrait and one landscape to enable you to take the picture you like however be aware of your Parallax Error! For more information see: My Box Brownie camera, Adventures with Parralax Error!


This little lever controls the aperture.  This Brownie has 3 different aperture settings. The lever pulls up out of the body of the camera in stages. When it is in a closed position, pushed right in, it is at it’s widest aperture.  This is for use on cloudy days/winter.  One click out, the middle position, is for bright evening/morning light.  The third position, with the lever pulled right out, is for very bright sunshine/summertime . . .


The last feature is this tiny lever, pull this one out of the body of the camera and it allows you to take a long exposure picture.  Professionals call it the Bulb Setting I believe.  This lever basically stops the shutter from closing until you manually flick it closed by flicking it back the other way.  This is a feature I haven’t tried as yet.  Mostly because I don’t have a tripod . . .


This is where your tripod (if you have one) would attach.  You see, Kodak thought of everything! What more could you want!?

Beautiful simplicity I think you will have to agree! Take a look at some more of my brownie pictures here.

For more Brownie fun try: Lady behind the lens and Box Brownie: The Perfect Reflection



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19 thoughts on “Box Brownie: The Hi-Tech features!

  1. Old film was not very sensitive to red light, hence the little red window. Modern film is sensitive, don’t leave the camera in bright light for long or the film will fog. A bit of black electrical tape (peel on/off easily) solves the problem.

  2. I started with a later version of the Brownie with 127 film and a Bakelite body. I am not old enough to remember when it was current, honest, it was a hand me down from my Nan I think. I can’t remember it having different apertures, for different seasons or light, or a Bulb setting, so you do have a more professional model!

    1. Oh really! Wow do you still have it? Can you still get that film? I have my nan’s portrait brownie which used 620 film and I am planning to try and use it by re-rolling 120 film . . . watch this space. I have been told its possible but I am a complete novice so . . . 😃

      1. I worked in the Photo trade for over twenty five years so I am afraid my head was turned and many, many different cameras have been owned and set aside since then…probably too many to count on a set of fingers and toes. 🙂

      2. Another lovely article. Before going to the trouble of respooling film have you tried cutting away the lip of a normal 120 film to see if it fits your old portrait brownie? Sharp nail scissors needed to get through the plastic. Although the film case would still be a wee bit long the diameter would be fine. On very old box cameras the engineering tolerance wasn’t that good so you might find it fits and is just a bit stiff to wind. This is how I do things on an old junior brownie of the same vintage. Search ‘620 film nail scissors ‘ for more but ignore anything about sanding or filing (that’s a dusty nightmare and should only be necessary for more precise cameras from the 40s onward). Good luck and hoping to see the results from your nan’s old camera however you get there :). These latest shots are superb!

  3. How lovely to hear you’re using a Box Brownie. Wonderful. I use an Olympus Trip, a bit younger than yours I expect at 35 years of age. Monica Weller

      1. I started taking pictures on a Brownie Box, have not gone digital, stick to my Olympus Trip and love it. Well done for enjoying this simple camera. Interesting post.

  4. Nice. I had a No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie. My grandmother gave it to me in the mid-seventies. I made a lot of pictures with it. It used 6×9 negatives which I developed myself. I have no idea what happened to the camera. Until your post I had forgotten about it. Now I can even feel the Brownie in my hands again. The slight resistance just before the shutter triggered.
    I have a DSLR which I only use on special occasions these days. A compact which I use on holidays. And my smartphone which I use all the time. They are all direct ready which is great. But the expectation that builds up when you are developing the film cannot be surpassed.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I like you use a Samsung phone for most of my photography but I have to say there is a certain kind of feeling that I get using the Brownie which makes it and the pictures it creates extra special, it may seem cliché but it is true! 🙂

  5. I am writing to say THANK YOU. You saved me today 🙂
    Down with a cold and all things associated with that, have been entertaining myself by watching film photography videos; making me want a large a format setup, I went for the next best thing and loaded some 120 film in the Brownie Box camera my mom got at a garage sale ages ago. Never ever thought I would load film in it. And after watching several vids on how to use it, I was all ready, until in real life, you know when you freeze and start doubting which aperture is what… so I googled quickly and your post came up! Thank you SO much!! I ended up going through the whole film (well 8 frames) and even though it was bitter cold out (frost bite weather) I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, and I too! was thinking of developing my own! Have you ever tried the caffenol method? or what method do you use? Anyways, thanks for your post!
    p.s. I did find it hard to see clearly through the magnified windows but I guess you get used to it?

    1. Haha well you are very welcome I am so glad I was of help!! are you on instagram or something so you can share the results, I’d love to see! Each camera is an individual I think so it’s fun to see what other people get with theirs. I have to admit mines been rest get for quite a while now. Other priorities take over unfortunately. anyway hope you like the results!! have a great 2018!

  6. knowing myself, it will be a while before I develop the film (combination of nerves, and I don’t have everything I need yet, to do it, but I would really like to try because I really like film cameras) but I will be sure to share – I started out on Flickr, and am still there, though not uploading nearly as often as I used to
    so grateful for your post. I have the very same box brownie by the way, but I do understand how they can vary in results as they were put together manually at some point.
    Happy New Year!

  7. I came here to learn to use my Brownie’s aperture switches and after seeing Esdale’s comment about a lack of a tri-pod I thought I’d pass along this great little trick.
    There’s an excellent way to make a ‘steadicam’ that fits in your pocket and costs less than £1.00 to make:
    I use this method, it’s especially good for panoramas, long exposures, or movies. I’ve done some experimentation and have couple of suggestions.
    Instead of steel I use a nylon bolt and washer. Easy to find & much less likely to scratch your camera or its lenses.
    The opening for a camera mount works with either a M6x 1 by 2cm (metric) and a ¼-20 by 1 inch (imperial) bolt. It is a ½-20 opening but the 6mm fits, just not as snugly.
    I experimented with different materials for the string (fishing line, cotton and nylon string, etc) but found that a narrow ribbon about 3mm or 1/8″ wide is the least likely to get tangled and easiest to unknot if it does.
    I leave the set up attached to my digital pocket camera by slipping the washer over the bolt and then wrapping the ribbon around it and then screwing it into the camera.

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