4 comments on “A Tale of Two Box Cameras

  1. Wonderful meditation on the simple box. I have owned a Brownie Hawkeye. I took it on Route 66 a few years ago and while it felt good in the hands, I was not wowed by the images I got back. So I sold the camera.

    My favorite two boxes so far are the Kodak No. 2 Brownie (mine’s a Model D) and the Agfa Clack. And I am gravitating toward Ektar as my film of choice for boxen, as its exposure latitude covers for these cameras’ wide variances in aperture and shutter speed. In b/w I haven’t found a champion yet. I’ve tried Ilford Pan F Plus 50 and it’s not bad. I wish Kodak still made Plus-X; I bet it’d be perfect for the job.

    • The Brownie Hawkeye is an enigmatic camera. The iconic design seems to promise more than it delivers. As I suggested in the piece, I reversed the lens in my first Hawkeye because it seemed almost too good with the lens in its normal orientation. I wish I liked the results more, as I enjoy using the camera. I haven’t tried the Clack, but I’ve heard good things about it.

      Ektar is my choice for color as well; it seems to suit most box cameras pretty well. For B&W, I tend to use either HP5+ or FP4+; I normally expose at half box speed and develop normally, so HP5+ is good for dull days and FP4+ works nicely in bright sun. Both are quite tolerant.

  2. I could not agree more with your review and comments on box cameras. I do like the Hawkeye Flash a bit better than you seem to. That may be in part because I had one new in the box when they were still in production, a gift from my family. I’m pretty sure I never made any memorable pictures with that camera and I don’t think any of the images survived. A half century and many cameras later I rediscovered the Hawkeye Flash and realized I probably could have just stuck with that camera all the while and been perfectly satisfied with the results.

    I’m very pleased to have stumbled on your blog; I found it through the link in your post about the Hexar on Filmwasters. I look forward to working my way through all the posts.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mike. Hope you enjoy yourself here – things haven’t been too active lately due to annoying real-world things, but with luck I’ll be getting back up to speed over the summer.

      The Hawkeye is frustrating to me because it’s just a little too good, inhabiting that middle ground between flawed box camera and high quality serious camera. I find myself wanting one or the other, and the Hawkeye is neither. That said, I think a lot of people (myself included) could do worse than to have had one and nothing else. I also think it’s a real test of the skill of a photographer – hand one to someone using a multi-thousand dollar DSLR and see what they can come up with. That will tell you definitively if it’s the camera or the photographer.

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