When I bought my Agfa Clack some years ago, it came with its manual. Tucked inside was this slide. The film edge is marked RVP, which is code for Fujifilm Velvia, that super-saturated ISO 50 transparency film.
I doubt that my Clack’s original owner made this image with the Clack. This image has an odd 11×7 aspect ratio, where the Clack makes 9×6 images. Also, this image is sharp all the way out to the corners, and is well exposed. The Clack performs far better than a box camera with a meniscus lens ought to, but it doesn’t perform this well.
I scanned it to see how well my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II scanner handles Velvia. The answer: really well. I did a couple quick tweaks in Photoshop to bring the scan’s colors and exposure into line with what I see on the slide itself, and I applied some sharpening.
I have no idea where this scene is. The house looks European to me, though. The van at bottom left looks like something built in the last 30 years or so. I can’t make out all the words on that van, but they look like they might be in German.
Sometimes I come upon a camera for cheap and just can’t resist buying it, even if it’s not on my want list. So it went with this 1963 Canon Canonet Junior.
Really, I’ll buy any Canonet I don’t already have if the price is right. Canon made 13 Canonet models from 1961 to 1982 and they all feature good lenses. You can hardly go wrong with a Canonet – well, except that most of them have gummy light seals that need to be replaced.
All Canonets feature a coupled light meter. Junior’s meter is of selenium (it’s behind that bumpy plastic ring around the lens), so it needs no battery. Most Canonets also include a coupled rangefinder and shutter-priority autoexposure, but not the Canonet Junior, which offers guess focusing and full autoexposure. You can set aperture manually if you want, but it’s really meant only to be done when a flash is attached, as the shutter fires only at 1/30 sec. then.
Junior isn’t junior sized, but to be fair it’s marginally smaller and lighter than the original 1961 Canonet. It features a 40mm f/2.8 lens, of four elements in three groups. There are better lenses in the Canonet line, but this one is good enough. Junior’s leaf shutter fires from 1/30 to 1/250 sec. You can dial in film speeds up to only 200 ASA, limiting Junior’s usefulness in low light.
The Canonet Junior was sold as the Bell and Howell/Canon Canonet 28 in the US.
If you’re a Canonet fan, you might also enjoy my reviews of the Canonet QL 17 G-III (here) and Canonet 28 (here). Other rangefinder cameras I’ve reviewed include the Yashica MG-1 (here), the Konica Auto S2 (here), and the Minolta Hi-Matic 7 (here). Check out all of my camera reviews here.
I opened my Junior to find an expired and partially spent roll of Kodak Gold 200 film inside. Naturally, that fogged several frames. I quickly shot the rest of the roll, which amounted to maybe eight exposures, and sent it off to Dwayne’s for processing. The thrill of found film is not knowing what you’ll get back from the processor. Last time I got a family’s late-1960s vacation to Niagara Falls. This time the subjects were far less interesting.
Several shots involved this downed tree. This shot shows that the lens yields sharp and contrasty results.
Kodak Gold film has been made for long enough that this Christmas tree could be from the 1990s.
I blew through the rest of the roll in 20 minutes in my yard. Junior was easy enough to use: set the aperture ring to Auto and twist the focus ring until the needle inside the viewfinder points to the right setting: portrait, group, or landscape. But watch the shutter-speed needle inside the viewfinder; if it’s in the red, there’s too much or too little light for the shot. My Junior’s viewfinder is foggy but usable. The shutter button is stuck down but a little pressure on it fires the shutter anyway. If I were to use this camera regularly, I’d fix these problems. But I’m not, so I won’t.
This is the best of my photos. This frame was inside the film canister when I opened the camera, so it wasn’t fogged. Those red streaks suggest a wicked light leak.
This is my street, from the end of my driveway.
This shot of a chair on my deck is my favorite because of the wacky colors.
No amount of Photoshopping could save that chair from the orange. But I was able to remove a strong purple caste from this image of my shed.
I’m not usually an expired-film kind of guy, but this was fun. I doubt I’ll shoot this camera again, though. I have many better choices in my collection for an easy afternoon’s shooting, and those cameras don’t need repairs.
If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here! To get Down the Road in your inbox or feed reader, subscribe here.
I shy away from cameras that take 620 film. I own a few, as they’re plentiful; Kodak and other manufacturers puked out bazillions of them. But in 1995 Kodak discontinued 620 film, instantly orphaning them all.
620 film is nothing more than still-available 120 film wound onto thinner spools. This makes it still possible to shoot with 620 cameras, as all you need to do is re-roll 120 film onto a 620 spool (instructions here). You can also take your chances with expired 620 film, which can be found on eBay. Or you can buy fresh, hand-respooled 620 film, such as from the Film Photography Project (here).
The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye takes 620 film. It is a glorified box camera, but such was the state of proletarian photography for much of the 20th century. Many collectors report that some Brownie Hawkeyes accept 120 film on the supply spool, which would certainly make it less of a hassle to shoot with this camera.
I love it when a simple camera gets good results, and so I was charmed when I saw the great images well-known camera guy Ken Rockwell got with a Brownie Hawkeye on Route 66. I immediately bought one.
The Brownie Hawkeye was introduced in 1949; the flash model followed in 1950. They cost $5.50 and $7, respectively, which is about $60 and $75 today. Its Bakelite plastic body probably looked modern and pleasant in those days, but certainly looked outdated in 1961 when this camera finally went out of production. It sports a single-element meniscus lens with an aperture somewhere around f/14 or f/16. Pressing the ridged gray button that wraps around the camera’s top right corner fires the shutter, which stays open for about 1/30 second. If you pull up the smooth gray button that wraps around the camera’s top left corner, the shutter stays open as long as you hold the shutter button down. The flash model has two pins on the side that accept several Kodak flash units.
To load film, clip in a new roll up top, thread the film around the back, and insert the film leader into a takeup spool on the bottom. Put the back on the camera, lock it closed with the little slider on top under the handle, and slowly turn the winding knob until 1 appears in the little red window on the camera’s back. To frame a shot, hold the camera in front of your torso and look down into the viewfinder. Press the shutter button when you’re ready. The shutter button doesn’t lock after you press it, so if you press it again you’ll get a double exposure.
The Brownie Hawkeye had a number of running changes during its 11-year run. Early cameras had metal winding knobs and little rivets next to the flash pins. Kodak fitted glass lenses and viewfinders at first, but switched to plastic in later cameras. The button for long exposures has various markings, from B (for bulb) to L (for long) to LONG, depending on when the camera was made. Mine has a CAMEROSITY code of CYRM, meaning it was made in November, 1953. Its winding knob is plastic, and its lens and viewfinder are glass. Its long exposure button is marked L.
If you like simple cameras like this, check out my reviews of the Agfa Clack (here), the Ansco B-2 Cadet (here), the Kodak Duaflex II (here), the Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model D (here), and the Kodak Six-20 Brownie (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
A special gift was hidden inside this Brownie Hawkeye – a roll of exposed Verichrome Pan film. I sent it right off to Film Rescue International, which specializes in getting images from long-expired film. I was delighted when they returned several good images. Judging by the cars and the scenery, it appears that this family visited Niagara Falls in the late 1960s.
The roll features several shots of the falls. My experience with small waist-level viewfinders is that framing a level shot can be challenging. This photographer would probably agree – if he or she could see these photos.
I hope someone someday comes upon this post and recognizes this family. I’d like to reconnect them with their photographs!
When I took my sons on a Route 66 vacation, I thought I’d follow in Ken Rockwell’s footsteps and bring the Brownie Hawkeye along. I first loaded some 620 Kodak Verichrome Pan that expired in September of 1985. I…did not get the stunning results Rockwell did. Here’s the Standard service station in Odell, IL.
Ah, the vagaries of expired film. The Brownie Hawkeye was pleasant to use, though: walk up, frame the shot, push the button. The button has nice travel and requires only moderate finger pressure. The below photo from the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, MO, looks like an illustration from a dystopian novel.
I also shot a roll of 620 Kodak Gold 200 expired since June of 1996, making this among the last rolls of 620 film Kodak produced. These look better to me than any of my Verichrome Pan work, but they are all underexposed and suffer from heavy color shifting. This is the Wagon Wheel Motel again, with our car parked outside.
My film choices aside, the Brownie Hawkeye did its job fine, delivering good sharpness even out into the corners.
This is the best photo I made with the Brownie Hawkeye. I tweaked it heavily in Photoshop to reduce haze and boost contrast. The color shifts make the shot in this case. You’ll find this sign in Springfield, MO.