Camera Reviews

Canon Canonet Junior

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.

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.

Canon Canonet Junior

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.

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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.

Found film

Several shots involved this downed tree. This shot shows that the lens yields sharp and contrasty results.

Found film - tree down

Kodak Gold film has been made for long enough that this Christmas tree could be from the 1990s.

Found film - It's not such a bad tree

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.

Fairway tree

This is my street, from the end of my driveway.

Down the street

This shot of a chair on my deck is my favorite because of the wacky colors.

Chair

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.

My shed

You can see all of the photos that turned out (and I use that phrase loosely) in my Canon Canonet Junior gallery.

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.

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If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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Camera Reviews

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, Flash Model

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I tend to shy away from cameras that take 620 film. I’ve bought a few, such as my Kodak Tourist and my Kodak Six-20 – they’re plentiful because Kodak (and other manufacturers) puked out bazillions of them. But in 1995 Kodak discontinued 620 film, instantly orphaning them all. I’ve never understood what Kodak was trying to accomplish with 620 film as it is nothing more than still-available 120 film wound onto thinner spools. At least this makes it still possible to shoot with 620 cameras, albeit with some hassle. Hardy souls roll 120 film onto 620 spools; well-heeled souls buy it already respooled from B&H Photo.

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. 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 last year on Route 66. I immediately bought one. It came in its box.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, Flash Model

The Brownie Hawkeye was introduced in 1949; the flash model followed in 1950. They cost $5.50 and $7, respectively, which is about $51 and $65 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; people who have tried to calculate its aperture have arrived at results from f/14 to f/16. Pressing the ridged gray button that wraps around the camera’s top right corner (as you peer through the viewfinder) fires the shutter, which stays open for 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.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, Flash Model

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.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, Flash Model

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.

Many collectors report that some Brownie Hawkeyes can accept 120 film on the supply spool, which would certainly make it less of a hassle to shoot with this camera. I might try it one day. But this Brownie Hawkeye had a special gift hidden inside – 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.

Rescued film

The roll features several shots of the falls.

Rescued film

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.

Rescued film

Film Rescue International got ten shots off this roll. You can see them all in this set on Flickr.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection!

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