18 August 2011

Kodak No.1 Box Brownie

Kodak No.1 Box Brownie
Susan Brannon
18 August 2011
The Kodak No.1 Box Brownie was Ansel Adams first camera.
This camera was first rollfilm camera bearing the new brand name "Kodak", patented and introduced in 1888. It used Eastman stripping negative film. The Kodak No. 1 of 1889 resembled the Kodak, but featured a more sophisticated shutter.  It was discontinued in 1916.

The cost? $1!

In use, the shutter was set by pulling a string; the camera was sighted by looking along a V-shape on the top of the camera. The shutter was tripped by pressing a button on the camera's side. After exposure, the key was used to wind the film to the next frame. The film moved past a shaft, rotating it, which caused a pointer visible on the top of the camera to rotate, so the photographer could be sure of advancing the correct amount of film.

Once one hundred pictures had been taken, the user sent the whole camera back to Kodak for film processing and reloading - at a cost of $10[1]. A hundred round negatives with a diameter of 65mm came from each roll of Eastman American Film. The round image was a design decision, partly as a way of ensuring that the photographer didn't have to hold the camera exactly level with the horizon, and partly to compensate for the poor image quality at the corners of the image. These first Kodak cameras were designed by George Eastman in collaboration with a cabinetmaker, Frank A. Brownell, who set up the production line at Eastman's factory. They are beautifully built, with box joints and strong leather covering.
Of course, those were the days when a photographer had to carry all kinds of equipment along with him and develop his own film.  I still like the medium format images the best for landscape, portraits and documentary photography.  I still like to develop my own film and yes, I have used the dodge technique that Adam's designed.  They sure do help the clouds come out fabulous!
Just for fun, I decided to look and see if I can find one of these boxes and how much are they now?
Well, I found one on E-Bay for 33 dollars, the person said that it was in "mint condition"
that was the only one that I found.  Here you can find the history and development of the Kodak cameras.
If you find one of these camera's at a garage sale, look to make sure that it does not leak light. The No.1 uses 620 film which may be hard to get, but if you go to a professional camera store they can find it for you.  You may be able to find the film online.  The images are soft with a nostalgic feel to it! They will not look like digital images.  Here is a link on how to use a Brownie Box!  Where to get manuals and more the brownie website.


La ruota gira, e l'onestà paga sempre said...

Dear Susan,
just a comment: the camera uses the 117 film format, which was launched with it. The camera which was able to take hundred circular pictures was the Kodak, commercialized in 1888.
The 117 film format is the exact size of film and spool fo the 120.
With kind regards

crossing borders said...

Thank you for the information! That is great because the 120 is still easy to come by.