Kodak Eastman, Brownie n°2, Usa, 1924
The Brownie is a cheap long-term camera made by Eastman Kodak. Launched in 1900, it was made of a simple cardboard cube with a lens inside that caught 2” ¼ square images on a 117 film. Thanks to its simplicity and the low cost (1$), combined with the cheap Kodak films, the Brownie sold more than expected: sold for over thirty years (1901-1933) the “Brownie No.2” is certainly one of the most successful cameras ever. It was invented by Frank A. Brownell and the name comes from the brownies of the Palmer Cox cartoons.
The Brownie aimed to a young audience, that Kodak wanted to introduce to photography. These cameras were also bought by war soldiers. Since these cameras were everywhere, many famous photos were shot with a Brownie.
It features a single lens with a 90mm focal (on the medium format it’s equivalent to a 35mm) with the fixed focus to infinity.
As most box cameras of the time, the lens was placed behind the shutter, in a safe position away from dust and potential scratches, and appears only when you shoot.
The film was rolled via a wheel and as many medium-format cameras, there’s no “limit switch”: the user have to stop at the right spot by checking the number on the paper that covers the rear end of the film and appears on a specific window on the back, closed by a red glass.