Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Old but beautiful

George Eastman made it his life’s work to put photography into the hands of the general public. His slogan was, “You press the button, we do the rest.” It would be fair to say that he succeeded. It seemed fitting that this Kodak 3A Folding Brownie, called the Model A, would have its picture taken nearly a century after its creation with a Kodak Easy Share C633 digital point-and-shoot. As they say, you’ve come a long way.

These folding box cameras had a relatively short production run from 1909 to 1915. Knowing the serial number of this camera and the total quantity manufactured, I’m guessing this camera dates to about 1910-11. The bellows came in either red or black. As far as I can tell, it’s still operational. The mechanical parts work smoothly - you can hear and feel the carefully engineered shutter works do their thing when you press the release. The bellows are in good shape and have no light leaks. The lens is clean.


George Eastman pioneered roll film, making it faster and easier to take and process photos. The Model A used what was called 122 roll film, quite a bit wider than today’s 120 film. It produced an image 3 ½ inches by 5 inches in size. Contact prints were made from the negatives.

This camera was given to me by my wife’s father about 20 years ago, who no doubt, received it from his father. He also gave me a 1930s vintage Foth Derby II, the lens of which is pictured in my previous post. I had only a passing interest in photography at the time I received these items, and I put the cameras into storage. Fast forward 20 years. I remembered the cameras while testing out the macro capabilities of the C633 and took some photos of them. A little research on the Internet helped me understand exactly what I had in my possession, and I discovered that a company in New York makes and processes custom rolls of film for both cameras.


Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Oh, by the way ... if you're interested, I described the simple setup for photographing still life subjects like this one on my photo advice blog.


Christa said...

Sure puts digital cameras into a different perspective :)

And you have some photos at Flickr that I would love to paint btw. Great shots :D

Wade said...

Those old cameras are great!