It’s a Kodak box camera that’s not a Brownie: the Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C.

Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C

The Hawk-Eye or Hawkeye name is strongly linked to Kodak. Indeed, Kodak first made cameras with that name in 1899. But that’s only because Kodak bought the Blair Camera Company that year, which had bought the Boston Camera Company in 1890. Boston made the first Hawk-Eyes, box cameras for glass plates.

When Kodak took over, Hawk-Eyes became box cameras in the Brownie tradition. As best as I can suss out, the line began in 1913 with three models: one without a model letter, the Model B, and the Model C. They are all typical cardboard boxes covered in leatherette, producing eight 6×9 cm negatives on 120 film. The unlettered model and, it looks like, the Model B both offered two viewfinders, one in portrait and one in landscape orientation, and two apertures selected by a pull-up tab on the camera’s top. All three cameras presumably use the same meniscus lens, which is is probably at f/11 or f/16 (though I don’t know how the aperture control constrains that). The rotary shutter probably operates at about 1/30 second.

Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C

The Model C took away the landscape viewfinder and the aperture selector, probably making it the least expensive No. 2 Hawk-Eye. The only control on the camera is the shutter lever. Whichever position you find it in, up or down, you move it to the other position to make a photograph.

Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C

I couldn’t find out when Kodak stopped the original run of this camera in the US. I do know that Kodak also made this camera in the UK from 1926 to 1934. Mine’s one of those, as evidenced by the seal on the back that reads, “Made in Great Britain / Kodak Limited.”

Kodak also made this camera with colored leatherette. I’ve seen them in brown, blue, burgundy, red, maroon, and green, and with at least three different patterns embossed into the leatherette.

In the US, Kodak reissued this camera on the company’s 50th anniversary in 1930, in brown leatherette with a silver foil badge on the side noting the anniversary. They made a whopping 550,000 of them through 1934. I have one of those, too; a review is coming soon.

If you like box cameras, I’ve reviewed a bunch: the Ansco B-2 Cadet (here), the Ansco Shur Shot (here), the Kodak No. 2 Brownie in both Model D (here) and Model F (here), and the Kodak Six-20 Brownie (here). Or see all of my camera reviews here.

I loaded Kodak T-Max 100 into this old box and took it for a spin. I developed the film in Rodinal, diluted 1+50, and scanned the negatives on my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II. All of these images got a little sharpening and contrast enhancement in Photoshop. I rotated the image below to be level. The rest I left at whatever cockeyed angle I managed thanks to the small, dim viewfinder.

House in midafternoon sun

Holding the camera level was the biggest challenge of using this camera. When the subject had one large, strong element, I had an easier time of it because it was so obvious in the viewfinder. The tree was that element in this image.

Tree shadow

You’d think you could just hold the camera up and turn it on its side to get a landcape oriented image. Unfortunately, the image in the viewfinder turns upside down when you do that. It’s hard enough to frame a subject in the itty bitty viewfinder. It’s nearly impossible to do it with the image upside down.

Suburban street

All of the images were soft with low contrast. I’ve seen far better results from other Kodak boxes with meniscus lenses. Shake was also a problem on a couple frames. As slow as the No. 2 Hawk-Eye’s shutter is, I’m surprised shake didn’t affect more photos.

VW in the driveway

Conventional wisdom with simple cameras like this is to always have the sun behind you when you make a photo. The No. 2 Hawk-Eye enforces it by making the viewfinder wash out unless the sun is behind you and therefore your body is blocking it.


See more from this camera in my Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C, gallery.

This Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C, is a gift to the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras. I thank the fellow who donated it. He’s a longtime professional photographer and camera collector who retired a couple years ago and sent me a box full of goodies when he cleared out his studio.

It’s always fun to shoot an old box, and this time was no exception. I favor my two Kodak No. 2 Brownies, however. They both have portrait and landscape viewfinders, and their lenses are sharper and deliver more contrast.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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17 responses to “Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye, Model C”

  1. […] Further Reading Don’t just take my word on the Hawk-Eye No. 2 Model C; you can check out the reviews by other awesome camera reviewers! Film Photography Project – Thinking Inside the Box, the Kodak Hawk-Eye No. 2 Model C Vintage Camera Lab – Kodak Hawk-Eye No. 2 Model C Down the Road – Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Mdl. C Review […]

  2. Marc Beebe Avatar

    I had a No. 2 Film Pack Hawkeye which I was unable to use because the film was an oddball idea that made it difficult to even adapt sheet film for a single shot. Besides, they were pretty ordinary cameras that didn’t produce high-quality results anyway. The folding Hawkeye cameras (Rainbow Hawkeye came in both folding and box style) were better.
    What was worse is that Kodak attached the Hawkeye name to some plastic wonders in the 1960s, including a few Instamatic designs. They were dreadful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Except for the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye I think all of the Hawkeye cameras were lower spec/quality.

      1. Marc Beebe Avatar

        I’d wonder if it wasn’t a plan to ween people off the former company and on to Brownie, but I doubt they thought that way back then. Besides, there was the name resurgence.

  3. J P Avatar

    One of these old Brownies was in my mother’s closet at one time, but I don’t know what ever happened to it. It was one with the two viewfinders and probably dated to the late 20s when her parents got married and started taking pictures. Mom’s childhood was captured with it, so I have a sentimental bond with these.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Probably one like this:

      They were surprisingly capable for as simple as they were.

  4. Michael Avatar

    If I read correctly, you rotated the camera 90 degrees to get landscape view yet the viewfinder image rotated 180. That doesn’t make sense optically to me. Does the viewfinder or lens move somehow independent of the camera?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If I thought about it for a while I could figure out why it’s happening. But all I’m doing is swinging the camera 90 degrees and looking at the VF at eye level. It is fascinating to watch the image flip upside down as you do that.

      1. Aaron Y Avatar
        Aaron Y

        It’s due to the shape of the body. It’s a rectangle. If it were square then rotating 90 would do nothing.

  5. analogphotobug Avatar

    Interesting, because I’ve started ‘collecting’ Kodak Folding Cameras, starting with a
    1918 Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic inherited from my Great Aunt Lenora. I’ve done some small repairs and taking it out for the weekend.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Those old Kodak folders could be quite capable. I look forward to seeing work from yours on your blog!

  6. Diana Valentine Avatar
    Diana Valentine

    Does anyone repair or refurbish the Hawkeye No 2 Model C? I’d love to be able to use the one passed down by my father.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not aware of anyone. These are simple machines — is yours broken? If no or if you’re not sure, just put a roll through and see what you get! I’d use Kodak Ektar (color) or Ilford FP4 Plus (b/w) film.

  7. Cornelis Nadine Avatar
    Cornelis Nadine

    Ik beschik ook nog over zo’n camera van mijn moeder. Zelf heb ik er nog mee gefotografeerd in 1967. Ik heb die foto’s nog. In woon in Gent te België. Wat is de waarde van zo’n camera, naast de sentimentele uiteraard? Nadine Cornelis

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Deze camera’s hebben weinig waarde. Je kunt ze altijd op eBay kopen voor $ 20. Kodak heeft er waarschijnlijk miljoenen van gemaakt, waardoor ze heel gewoon zijn.

  8. Katie K. Avatar
    Katie K.

    Hi, thanks for this info! I just cleaned up an old Model C and loaded some film in it. Going to take it for a spin and find out what happens! I mostly wanted to take some pictures of my Model T with it so it seems like it might be just right for that. If only I could get my kid to wear the period correct clothing I got him to be in the picture….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh how perfect, to photograph a Model T with this camera!

      I’ve been going through some old family photos lately that go back to the early 1930s. Judging by the men in those images, if your son wears slacks and a white T-shirt he’ll fit right in! :-)

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