Some Kodak No.2 Box Brownie Quandaries

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_van_nooij, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. I've picked up a No.2 box camera for less then a dollar from evil-bay.
    It is not in a bad state. I gave it a good clean and I've replaced the red
    window at the back with a piece of plastic cut from a CD-case. The shutter was a
    little hard to fire so I've used a droplet of gun oil on the two main pivot pins
    that hold the shutter together. I bet it now moves as smoothly as it did 93
    years ago.
    I'm still looking for a replacement frosted glass for one of the viewfinders.

    There are some rough rust spots on the backing plate. What is the best way to
    smooth these out? fine sandpaper? should I paint over the rust spots afterwards?
    The film rollers seem to move fine though.

    I've searched high and low on these boards and other websites trying to find
    some info about shooting these cameras.
    So far I know the 3 available f-stops are f-11, f-16 and f-22.
    But shutterspeed is something I've not found anything specific on. Some state
    1/25th, others say its 1/100th of a second. Can anyone tell me the approx. speed
    of these shutters?
    I've got a few rolls of 50 ISO film that I wish to shoot next weekend. Will
    these work fine in this camera? If not, I've got some rolls of 100 and 400 ISO too.
    As a final question, does anyone know a source for the leather handles that go
    on top of these little brownies?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. If you can't find a piece of ground glass from a junker camera, it is possible to make your own using valve grinding compound which you can purchase at an auto parts store. The instructions for doing that can be found in a recent thread at Nelsonfoto. If you find you need a new mirror as well, the ones taken from junkstore polaroids work well.

    The same fellow, Imagemaker, also had a suggestion for smoothing out rough spots in another thread which might work for you.

    My assumption with my box cameras is that the shutter speed will be somewhere between 1/25 and 1/50; that really isn't a critical difference, and your 50-speed film will likely work fine.

    Kodak made so many boxes. I can't quite figure out which one you have from your description. Maybe you could show us a picture of yours along with the images you get from it.
  3. Sorry, I forgot to mention that it is a Model F.

    The edges of the mirrors have faded, but they are still usable. It is just one of the frosted glassed that has fallen out. I was thinking of glueing some thin crêpe-paper on a bit of plastic from a CD-case, but using abbrasives will probably give better results

    Thanks Mike. I am taking it to a World War 1 commemorative event in Passchendaele this weekend. The camera is not 100% periodically correct but should blend in nicely. I'll be sure to post the photos here.
  4. Nearly all of the old box cameras can make excellent images - far better than many would imagine. The main things are to keep at least 8 or 10 feet from your subject, and to hold the camera well-braced, or on a tripod. Sounds like you have the ideal subject lined up for yours.
  5. I just fixed the missing viewfinder window by cutting out a piece of clear plastic and covering it with a strip of scotch tape. Here are some pictures,
  6. Not bad for a 95 cent camera The film holder, reel and back plate
  7. And the last one of the shutter
  8. Is this one of those fancy metal Brownies? You can make your own handle out of thin leather. I should be pretty easy to figure out a pattern... just make it about 1/2" wide and cut slits in it corresponding to the knobs. Cut the slits about 1/2" long heading outward. You should be able to see what I mean from photos online of them.

    This page gives descriptions of the changes made in the design over the years. The Model F was first produced in 1924 and stayed in production for another 11 years. You might be able to narrow down the exact age. :) Ive got a Model C circa 1914, its mostly wooden!
  9. Thanks Patrick,

    From those photos I guess I'm looking at a Canadian camera.
    The leather handle doesn't look that difficult to reproduce if I can find the right leather.
  10. Nice to have the additional f-stops available as that makes film choice quite a bit less of an issue. The tripod sockets help too. At times, I have carried along two box cameras so that I could have a choice of fast or slow film to fit conditions.

    Although it makes no difference in the quality of the images, the wooden take-up spool is a nice touch as it creates a clear connection to the photographic past. I have an Agfa-Ansco box of a similar vintage to yours that I am fond of because of its antiquity and its nice condition. The tiny viewfinders are a bit of a challenge, but it just means you have to exercise your imagination a bit more to create your compositions. There is really something liberating about using the old box cameras, and they have produced many of my favorite images.
  11. I had some rough spots on the pressure plate and rollers on one of my old cameras and found that a good metal polish (ie: Simichrome Polish) worked quite well.
  12. Do not give the nice wood spool to a lab, you will not get it back.

    The shutter speed is certainly 1-25th. Early Kodak roll films were about EI 25, then they were EI 50 (marked "SPEED" for a while).

    The pressure plate only touches the backing paper, so it does not need to be exceptionally smooth.
  13. I have already exchanged the wooden spool with a plastic one. I've had a lot of hassle getting 620 spools back from a developer before, I'm not making that mistake again ;) This particular spool is marked "Ansco".

    I got the surface rust cleared up nicely on the backingplate and the two film-guiding edges between the rear-most rollers with some fine sandpaper followed by some polish. A little dab of black paint should protect it again.

    Nothing left to do but get out there and shoot! Thanks for all the help and advice, guys.
  14. Readers here may enjoy a previous posting of mine:

    Cheers, Kevin.
  15. Good thing I don't have to fly to get to Belgium for the event, Kevin. :)

    "Do you have any guns, knives or bludgeoning objects in your carry-on luggage?"
    "Well, there's my Kodak Medalist..."

    So keeping "Sunny f-16" in mind. With 1/25th shutterspeed, using 50 ISO film, I should stick to f-22(the smallest aperature) in bright sunny weather. And use the bigger ones depending on the weather.

    I'm getting rather excited about trying it out now.
  16. Rick, I'm not so sure the f/stops are as wide as f/11. On both of my No.2 Brownies, the maximum aperture measures as close as I can tell about 7mm, and the focal length of the meniscus is about 105mm, which makes it closer to f/16, with the middle stop about f/22 and the smallest about f/32. Kodak's original instructions remark that the smallest stop is not intended for use with the 'instantaneous' shutter setting, but for time exposures in subdued light out of doors of one to several seconds. I haven't measured the shutter speed in any rigorous way, but to my eye it looks to be around 1/50th of a second. A sunny-16 estimate would suggest a film speed of around 50 ASA (or whatever it's called these days), which tallies with John Shriver's remarks on film speeds.
  17. Alex, I got the f/stop values from this particular site:
  18. I have recently acquired a No2 Box Brownie and want to go and do some B&W portraits or architecture, does anyone have any helpful suggestions about shooting and what film speed to go for, probably going to be sunnyish to cloudy, will ISO 400 be ok or do I go for a 100??

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