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The Brownie Hawkeye Experience

       I had this hankering to find an old box camera and push some film through it to see what kinds of photo effects I'd get.

       I was down in Arkansas visiting my daughter Kim; and looking at an old Brownie Hawkeye in an antique store, when Kim said, "We've got a camera like that. Grandma Donaldson gave it to me, and it's in a shoebox in the attic storage space."

       Welllllll !As soon as I got home, I ferreted out said shoebox, and sure nuff, there it was. The main difference between this camera and those in the antique stores was that this one was clean. Also, it was complete with a giant flash attachment, some old flash bulbs, and most importantly two old 620 spindles.

I got busy taking it apart so I could get down inside the caverns that the lenses were hiding in, and promptly had them out and cleaned like crystal.

       Now I had but to learn how to load film into it, and how to use it effectively. For this one must turn to the sole great source of all trivial knowledge...The Internet.

        I obtained a roll of Fuji Superia 100 in 120 size, took it into a dark bathroom, and rerolled it onto a 620 spindle. I put this in the camera, and waited for a great sunshiny day.

        Alert!!! Alert!!! I was recently informed that it's not necessary to rewind 120 film to use it in a Hawkeye. Just put it in up top just as it comes from the 120 box, and use a 620 spindle for the take up on the bottom. I tried it. It works (but maybe only on a Hawkeye). Then just ask to get your spindle back from your processor. This makes life way to easy. I'm sure everyone will be taking a lot more pictures.

       27 Aug 2002--I recently got this message from Kelly Hawthorne, a fellow user, who had trouble putting a 120 roll in the top compartment of one of her Hawkeyes.

       "I happen to have two Brownie Hawkeyes, and after talking to you last, I tried the second one, and it would allow me to install the 120 roll where the other would not. It is just very strange. According to the serial numbers one was made in 1954, and one in 1955. The one that had "L" on the long exposure switch was the one that I couldn't get to work, and the one that said "Long" on the front of the button was the one that allowed me to install the 120. Of course I still had to use a 620 take up reel."

        After taking my shots, I researched my options for processing; and had pro-proofing done at Dale Labs. Just like the shots had come out of a Hasselblad.

Here are the results. All images are "thumbnails". Click on any image to see a larger version. Use your browser's "Back" button to return here.

Our House (fence under construction)A scene at Crab Orchard LakePulliam Hall at S.I.U. Carbondale
More Crab Orchard LakeAltgeld Hall at S.I.U.C.Reflections at Crab Orchard Lake

Crab Orchard Lake

        The above go to show what perserverance, knowledge of basic principles, sunshine, and modern films can do in a simple camera with an unadjustable, single element, uncoated glass lens.

        It also shows that a good scanning technique and propper handling in Photoshop can present any image in it's best light. The photos were not augmented or altered from there original appearance however.

        I intend to do more with the little Brownie. Next time I will also load and unload the film to and from the camera in very subdued light as the 620 reel doesn't adequately protect the film edge. I will also keep a piece of black electrical tape over the rear film counter window till I actually am winding the film.Color film does respond to bright light coming through the red window and paper backing of the film.

18 Dec 2002---I am still obsessed!!! Now I've discovered how to convert a Hawkeye so you can use it with electronic flash. Click HERE to find out how.

 See the results of Roll #2 (Click Here)

Click HEREto return to my primary web page.

You can now also click HERE to see photos taken with an even older camera
A No. 2 Brownie

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at

Also, you may participate in a discussion forum concerning the use and care of old cameras.