Exhibition Further Thoughts: using a 100-year-old camera

Hey there, Alice here. As you all may or may not know I am an avid photographer, and my main medium is that of analogue photography. Now, a lot of the analogue cameras you may have seen look pretty recognisable, like compact cameras, disposable cameras and slrs, however they didn’t start out like this. After seeing the subject of this week’s episode ‘No Man’s War’ at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, and an old Kodak Vest Pocket Camera in a display cabinet, I was inspired to write a little bit about using the oldest camera I own.

So this camera is a Kodak Brownie No.2, and it’s literally a cardboard box with a spring shutter and a couple of bits of glass/plastic. This model in particular hails from all the way back in 1917 (ish), which coincides with the First World War and the subject of much of the exhibition. Back in the day this type of camera was the everyday camera for families, much like the disposable camera. When you shot a roll of film with this camera you’d just take the whole thing back to the shop, and they would take the film out, develop it, print it and load up a new roll of film, making it ready to use immediately.

Despite its age and ridiculously simple design (its very much the definition of a point-and-shoot camera, there’s nothing by way of settings or adjustments to make), the photos this camera makes can be pretty amazing. A quirk the images have is a really sharp centre, however the edges can be pretty blurred, which I imagine is because of the quality of the super old lens. The negatives you get from this camera are also pretty ridiculous in how big they are: a whopping 6x9cm. To see the comparison between this size and 35mm film, here’s this handy-dandy diagram.

One of the main reasons I fell in love with shooting film was the fun you can have trying out old cameras like this, the ones that you don’t really see anything like anymore. Also you can find them for real cheap on eBay so that’s always a plus!

I hope you liked this little look into my little world of photography, and if you’re thinking of taking up film photography I’d really recommend having a go of a box camera like this – it’s so much fun!

-Alice

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