Main Street, South Bend

You can still find many rumbly brick streets in the old parts of South Bend. This lonely block of Main Street connects Leeper Park to Memorial Hospital. It once ran south into downtown, but the hospital long ago oozed across the road. Hospitals have a way of doing that.

My brother once lived on this block. One by one, Memorial Hospital bought the houses, razed them, and paved a giant parking lot. My brother’s house was the last one to go. The fellow from whom he rented wouldn’t sell, so the hospital simply waited until he passed away.

Kodak Z730 Zoom, 2009. “Captured” is an occasional series where I show a photo and tell a short story about it. This was the first ever Captured photo, from February of 2010. I’m rerunning it today to give me more time to get ready for my wedding this Saturday!

Photography, Preservation

Captured: Main Street, South Bend

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Watching over Indianapolis

Watching over Indianapolis
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Foma Fomapan 200
2016

Photography
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Cameras, Photography

Brownie Reflex, Synchro Model

Because I’m way too busy getting ready for my wedding this Saturday, I’m doing some reruns this week. I thought you might enjoy the first camera review I ever wrote, published nine years ago today!

When I was a kid, a Kodak Brownie Reflex, Synchro Model, found its way into my hands. I think it might have been my uncle Jack’s. It was an ugly duckling of black plastic with hard corners and an aluminum faceplate. But I’d never seen a twin-lens camera before, and spent hours looking down into its viewfinder, considering its fisheyed world. I never ran film through it – the shutter button was sticky, and a crack ran up the body. It was useless.

Now that I’m gingerly collecting cameras again, my old friend Michael e-mailed me recently and said, “Hey, I saw your blog post that said you used to have a Brownie Reflex. I have one here doing nothing. Do you want it?”

Does a wino want a case of Thunderbird?

This one is crack-free and its shutter button slides on silk. It even came with a flash unit every bit as ugly as the camera itself. Everything on and in the camera was dirty, so last night I broke out the tiny screwdrivers, Q-tips, and rubbing alcohol and went inside. It cleaned up pretty nicely. The only thing I didn’t try to clean was the cloudy lens, which was behind the shutter works. I’ll do that on a day when I have the patience for intricate work.

Brownie Reflex, Synchro Model

Some stains wouldn’t come off the mirror inside the viewfinder, as this photo shows. Twin-lens cameras show mirror images in the viewfinder, which is disorienting until you get the hang of it.

Brownie Reflex viewfinder

The Kodak Brownie Reflex, Synchro Model, was made in the United States from 1941 to 1952. (A non-synchro model, which didn’t synchronize the flash with the shutter, was made from 1940 to 1941.) Its original price was $6. It took typical square photos on 127 rollfilm. Kodak made millions of these cameras, so they’re pretty easy to come by. For more information, including a PDF of this camera’s manual, go to the Brownie Camera Page.


Do you like old cameras? Then check out all of my old-camera reviews!

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Blogosphere

Recommended reading

Saturday morning and time for another roundup of solid blog posts from this week.

Ann Althouse has blogged mostly links to political and legal articles for more than a decade. But one day this week she blogged about her love of fountain pens. I wrote with one as a teenager, but she sketches with hers. Read The return of the Pelikan

If you ask me, I’ll give you a whole symposium of lectures about why I dislike cookie-cutter vinyl-village-style houses. But Susie Trexler reminds us that at one time even the venerated American Foursquare was the trend, and they were built by the bazillions. Read When Houses Look Alike

I’ve never shared another camera review here — I’m in that game and want all the camera-review pageviews. But Josh Solomon, writing for Casual Photophile, wrote a great review of the Pentax SV, a manual 35mm SLR similar to my Pentax H3. Read Pentax SV – Camera Review

So what if your work (writing, art, whatever) never gets any attention? Nobody cares? Cameron Kline, writing fot the Film Shooters Collective, urges you to keep doing it anyway because if it truly matters to you, it’s part of your identity. Read You Are What You Love

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Cameras, Photography

Kodak Six-20, revisited

I was so impressed with this camera when I bought it seven or eight years ago. I was limiting my collection to folders and rangefinders then, and this mint-condition folding Kodak with Art Deco details was so lovely I just had to own it. I’ve always displayed this camera. I have little display space, so it’s a special camera that doesn’t end up in a closet or in a box under the bed.

Kodak Six-20

Manufactured from 1932-37, the Kodak Six-20 was more style than substance. It featured a 100mm Kodak Anastigmat lens, one step up in quality from Kodak’s entry-level Diway, Bimat, Twindar, and Kodar lenses. Some think this Anastigmat is similar in design to a Tessar. Yet its maximum aperture is only f/6.3, and the No. 0 Kodon shutter in which it is set offers just three settings: 1/25, 1/50, and 1/100 sec, plus time and bulb. Not very versatile.

Kodak Six-20

The Six-20 offers two viewfinders: a brilliant peer-down viewfinder attached to the lens assembly, and a pop-up sports viewfinder on the body side. On mine, the brilliant viewfinder is so cloudy as to be useless.

Kodak Six-20

This was the kind of camera a gentleman could slip into his coat pocket, or a lady could carry in her clutch, and look stylish when pulling it out. Only a gentleman or a lady could afford this camera: it was $38 when new, which is equivalent to $666 in 2016.

Kodak Six-20 Kodak Six-20

I shot this camera once before, in 2010. See the review here. I got terrible results and blamed a combination of camera gremlins and photographer incompetence. But I’ve learned a lot about using old gear and making photographs in the years since, and so I decided to try again. I began by cleaning the lens, which is easily accessed from the back by opening the aperture wide and setting the shutter to T. I then shot the shutter at every speed many times to loosen it up.

The Kodak Six-20 unsurprisingly takes 620 film, which hasn’t been manufactured since 1984. It’s the same film as still-manufactured 120, but on narrower spools. You can respool 120 onto 620 spools, or buy it pre-respooled at premium prices. Because neither option excites me, I swore off 620 cameras a few years ago. But as my grandmother always used to say, “never say never.” I bought a roll of expired (1/2004), cold-stored, hand-respooled Kodak Verichrome Pan from the Film Photography Project store and spooled it into this octogenarian camera.

My first stop was a nearby Episcopal church. Armed with my monopod to keep the camera stable, and my iPhone light meter app to get exposure right, I got to work. This is my favorite shot from the roll.

Church building

Somebody forgot to put the toys away on the church playground.

Toy trucks

From the church, I walked around the surrounding Warfleigh neighborhood a little. The Meridian Street Bridge cuts through on its way over the White River. The sun, low in the west, created gobs of annoying flare. I had to have my back fully to the sun to avoid it. I’m sure Kodak made a snap-on hood for this lens; I wish I had one.

Meridian Street bridge

These shots all look a lot better than the original scans, which were hazy and low contrast. Fortunately, in this modern age Photoshop corrects those problems quickly and easily. But even Photoshop couldn’t help with the flare.

Starbucks

I finished the roll (just eight photos!) over in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, where there’s a Graeter’s ice-cream shop. It was busy on this warm Saturday evening.

Graeter's

By the way, the Six-20’s shutter requires no cocking. That’s unusual for a folding camera of this era. I’m betting that the No. 0 Kodon is a simple rotary shutter similar to those found on box cameras.

See the rest of my photos from this camera in my Kodak Six-20 gallery.

I was actually about to sell this camera. I’ve been thinning my herd, as cameras were stuffed into every nook and cranny around here and the madness had to stop. I’ve shed probably 50 cameras and am not done yet. But something made me pause and try this one again. I’m glad I did; after this experience I’ll be keeping it.


Do you like old film cameras? Then check out all of my reviews!

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In the chapel

In the chapel
Minolta AF-Sv
Fujicolor 200
2016

Photography
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