Growing up my family had a collection of old film cameras. They were like celebrated trophies displayed on a shelf high above our sticky hands. Little did I know how they would come to shape so much of my life. I loved all of those cameras but my favourites were the Kodak Brownies. Later in life as I began my own adventure with photography I began to amass a pretty decent Kodak Brownie collection of my own. We've even got one that has been retrofitted to work as a night light in our hallway.
It wasn't until I recently discovered a roll of expired film still packed inside a Kodak Brownie Starflex that I got to thinking about using them again. While the later model Kodak Brownies do shoot on C-41 film, the problem is that Kodak used a proprietary reel called the 620. Good news, it is possible to re-roll modern C-41 film off of 120 spools and onto 620 spools, but you have to find the spools first. Thankfully most of my collection had at least one left inside. Here's a long but handy video on how.
So there I've been, sitting on the floor of our windowless, pitch black, basement bathroom hand re-rolling 120 film onto 620 spools. Here is where it gets fun. The early Kodak Brownies either have no adjustability or very little. The later model Brownies do allow you to adjust the focus to small span of metered feet. But they only have one small preset aperture. One of mine is set at f22. How often do you shoot at f22?So you're going to get a bit of what you get unless conditions are ideal.
The big questions were if these 50+ year old cameras work? would they leak light and ruin the film? I had no idea what to expect. The first roll of film is in. I got 5 out of 8 shots off the roll of Kodak Ektar 100 which I shot through a Kodak Brownie Bulls-Eye. The remaining 3 shots are under exposed as I shot them indoors. The second roll, Kodak Portra 400 shot through a Kodak Twin-20 were over exposed as I suspect the body was leaking badly.
It feels good shoot film again and never knowing what you're going to get. You get some interesting looks from people wondering what you're doing with an old black plastic camera in your hand.
The best part? I can't stop thinking about all the things I want to shoot next. Creativity feels good.