Kodak Brownie Bulls Eye, 1954-1958. This was a popular camera in the 1950’s, selling for about $13 (about $116 in today’s money). It used 620 roll film first introduced in 1932 and used in many popular Kodak cameras, and produced color or black and white prints 2.25 x 3.25 inches. Although this film is no longer available, you can spool 120 film onto the 620 spool if you have a darkroom. The Bakelite camera case is 5 inches high by 3.25 inches wide and 4 inches deep without the attached Kodalite Midget flasholder. You set the focus distance on the front lens (scenes, groups, close-ups), and peered through a small viewfinder on the back with the shutter lever on the front right side. The picture count window is on the back. The camera appears to be in working condition but no neck-strap. It does not allow you to make phone calls like today’s cameras, but was simple to use for its time. Your parents probably had one when they were a young couple. $35-$50.
Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash, 1953-1955. An inexpensive Bakelite camera ($5 in 1953), just 3 inches high and 4 inches wide. The early version had a glass Kodet lens, as found here; later versions used a plastic lens. It uses 127 film that can still be purchased from specialty suppliers, yielding 3.5 x 5 in prints in color or black and white. There is an eye-level viewfinder on the back and a picture counter; you load film by sliding the strap fasteners down to remove the back half. No flash is attached, but a Kodalite Midget Flasholder would work; the camera is in working order. An original box, missing the top, is included. $35-$50.
Spencer Full-Vue, ca. 1947. Spencer was one of several companies operating out of Chicago at a single location; other names include Spartus and Monarck, all owned by Herold Manufacturing Co. The plastic case with metal trim is 4.5 inches high, 4 inches deep, and 3 inches wide with two lens in front; the upper is for the viewfinder, the lower exposes the film. These are known as twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras. The look-down ground-glass viewfinder flips open and gives a mirrored image, and composing the picture is confusing because you must move the camera in a mirror image and shoot at waist level. The lower front lens shoots the photo on 120 film, yielding 6 x 6-inch prints. This film, first introduced by Kodak in 1901, is still available today. The camera is a fixed-focus and works best with subjects 8-12 feet away. There is no shutter speed or aperture adjustment, but there is a timed delay feature so you can get in the picture. A user’s manual is available online. $40-$60.
Ray Camera Co. “Ray No. 1”, 1899-1903. This folding bed, large-format camera was made in Rochester NY for just a few years, after which the company became the Rochester Optical & Camera Co. It eventually became the Eastman Kodak Co. Open, the camera is 6.25 inches wide, 5.5 inches high, and 7.5 inches in depth. It folds up to just 3 inches deep. The framing is walnut, the box is covered in leather. You set the focus by sliding the lens forward or back, there is a distance scale on the left side of the platform. There is a viewfinder on the right that you look down into. There’s an aperture control on top of the lens, a shutter speed control underneath it, and a vertical adjustment knob on the right. You “cock” the shutter by pressing down a tab on the left side of the lens and release it with a tab on the right. It shoots a 4 in x 5 in plate negative and normally you made contact prints from that. A 4x5-inch negative gave a very high quality print. A way-cool camera, the foundation of Eastman Kodak. This camera often sells at auctions for over $300. $225-$325.
Argus “Seventy-five”, 1953-1958. This is a twin-lens reflex, sometimes called a pseudo-TLR because there is no focus control – it’s a fixed focus camera from 6 ft to infinity. The upper lens is the for the viewfinder and the lower lens for the film exposure. It uses 620 film to produce 2.25 in square images. The case is hard plastic with aluminum trim. You shoot from the waist, looking down into the large, clear glass, reversed-image viewfinder. The viewfinder folds down when not in use. The shutter is on the lower right and there is a timer setting if you want to take a selfie. You will not be able to upload it to Instagram, however, or text it to your friends. Everything looks good on this camera, including the flash unit, and it is ready to go. Just load 120 film onto the empty spool and insert two ‘C’ batteries into the flash unit. A simple, inexpensive camera in the 1950’s. Argus manufactured cameras in Ann Arbor, MI. $35-$55.
Argus “C-3”, 1939-1957. The C-3 was one of the first cameras to use 35 mm film, and was also one of the best-selling. Its utilitarian look led to it being called “the brick”. It is a metal-cased rangefinder camera, meaning that there are two viewfinders, one to compose your image and one to adjust the focus by aligning parallel images. The C-3 had a “coupled rangefinder”, so you could directly adjust the rangefinder by turning the camera lens, or set the distance by turning the rangefinder dial which would concurrently adjust the focus ring. Sound complicated compared to your smartphone camera? The rangefinder mechanism is working on this camera, so you can see for yourself by peering through the two small windows on the back of the camera. In 1940 an Argus C-3 with flash attachment cost $40 (that’s almost $700 today, about the same as your smartphone – but you couldn’t surf the web with the camera). The aperture control is the inner ring on the lens, the shutter speed is set on the upper left, and there is a frame counter on top. You had to know something about photography to use these cameras! You cock the shutter with the lever on the front, and release it with the button on top. The case is in good shape with some wear to the metal trim and some of the leatherette covering bubbled slightly in front. All parts appear to be working. Just add film to this workhorse camera – it comes with a well-used leather case and strap. $40-$60.
Kodak No. 2 Folding Cartridge Hawk-Eye, Model B, 1926-1933. This camera folds up to just 6.5 inches long by 3.5 inches high and 1.25 inches wide, small enough to fit in your coat pocket. It opens to 5 inches. It was considered Kodak’s top of the line in 1924, selling for $20 (about $280 today). The metal case has leatherette covering with a rubber handle on top. The lens and bellows extend to three setpoints for different shooting distances (8 ft, 25 ft, and infinity); there is a look-down viewfinder, a shutter speed adjustment above the lens and a continuous aperture adjustment below. The shutter release is on the top right of the lens. The leather bellows looks good but probably has light leaks; the camera uses 120 film, still available. The camera and lens were made in Rochester, NY. You can find the original operating instructions, including aperture and speed settings for various types of photos online. It comes with an original box with a label. $55-$75.
Ansco “Pioneer”, 1947-1958. This inexpensive camera has a fixed focus lens, no aperture adjustment and a single shutter speed, making it ideal for kids and people looking for a simple-to-operate camera. It uses 616 film (no longer available) that gives a 2.5 x 4.25 inch negative. You can substitute 120 film if you want to use the camera. Later versions had the shutter release on the camera body (rather than on the lens as here) and a second speed for the flash unit. The camera is 5 inches wide by 9 inches high (with the flash unit) and 4.5 inches deep, so it’s not very large but looks cooler to kids than the traditional Brownie box cameras. Its obvious resemblance to a newspaper photographer’s camera led Ansco to initially offer this as a “Jr. Press Photographer” camera for the 1949 and 1950 Christmas seasons. The leatherette cover to the camera is in good shape but there is some rust/corrosion and wear to the metal and edges. The viewfinder has considerable dust inside, but is usable. $30-$50.