Today I wanted to profile my two newest cameras that I just added to my collection in October, the Argoflex Seventy-Five and the Baby Brownie Special. I picked up the Argoflex Seventy-Five for $20 at a flea market along with it’s original leather case and strap and the Baby Brownie Special at a church bazaar for $20 as well. The Seventy-Five is a Bakelite camera put out by Argus made between 1949 to 1964 and like many cameras from around that perioid it is a fake TLR camera and used 620 medium format film. It has a bright viewfinder that is great for look through and to do viewfinder photography. On top of that I loved the simple design of the front of the camera even though I have a very similiar designed Kodak camera. The main reason I bought it was because I do not own any Argus camereas and I thought with the case included it was a steal. My second camera, is by far one of the cutest cameras I’ve even seen – it’s just so tiny. The Baby Brownie by Kodak is a Bakelite camera that was produced from 1938 to 1954. It shoots in medium format on 127 film and includes absoleyly no settings, it’s as point and click as you can go. It’s size and lightness felt unique from all the other cameras from around that time so I couldn’t resist. I am so intrigued to see how it shoots, because if it’s any good – it’ll fit in my travel bags so well. On that note I will mention both cameras use film that is not produced anymore however you can use other types of film in them and simply resize or use original spools (tutorial here for 127 film conversion).
I wanted to start a series with Self Portrait Sunday documenting me as a photographer as currently I have very few photos of me with my cameras which to me is so odd because I carry them around with me everywhere. It feels like there is a large part of me going undocumented so I thought the best way was to once a month or so to document myself with one of my many camera. I thought it’d be great to capture me with my cameras and do little mini-shoots with them as the subject and dress in an outfit I thought suited the camera’s style. I’m usually one of those people who scorns at shots of people with their vintage camera or toy camera because they always seem to be a prop (which I find it frustrating as a photographer because even though I understand their beautify it seems sacrilegious to deprive them their actual function as that is what intrigues and delights me about cameras and it’s what they can do not how I look with them in my hands that I love). Yet at the same time the desire to share a camera from my collection with you that I have experimented with and invested in to use at capturing moments of my life seemed worth it as I feel like I try to use them as an extension of myself. So without further ado I present the first in the series: Metro-Flex and Me.
Self-Portrait Sunday: Metro-Flex and Me
Metro-Flex is a half frame pseudo reflex camera made in the 1940’s that uses 127 roll film. I picked mine up over Etsy because I loved the art deco Bakelite metal exterior that has an almost a quilted pattern to it. Mine doesn’t have the usual string strap to make it wearable around the neck which would have been helpful because to take photos and properly view the viewfinder you have to hold it around waist level. It’s in great condition and I love how satisfying the sound of the metal shutter is when you press it down. For the shoot I thought my black jacket with coat tails and the crazy pattern of my tights would work great with the cameras art deco appearance. It was hard to find something perfect to wear with the camera because it’s hard to imagine who exactly would use a camera like the Metro-Flex (there isn’t a lot of information available about this beauty). Below you can see me lining up a shoot and getting ready to press down the shutter…if you want to view photos I’ve taken with it check out my Vintage Tuesday post: here!
Today’s photos were taken with the Metro-Flex vintage camera from 1940’s. This is one of my new additions to my vintage camera collection and I love having the chance to try it out. I am using 35 film because 127 film is not made anymore except one company that only offers expensive color negative film (black and white was being offered by appears to be discontinued). If you want to know how I converted my 35 film to fit a 127 camera, check out my How To….! I was so excited to try it out that I just toke it with me when I went to the shops, so the subject matter is not very interesting but I wanted to see what kind of shots the camera could produce and try a few things to see what type of results I could get. This is a great thing to do with old cameras, especially if you note down the conditions for each photos like subject distance, light conditions, time of day/weather and compare with the results. The Metro-Flex has no settings so it really trial and error, especially since using my method of conversion I don’t have an indicator marks on the film to see when I’ve reached the correct spot when advancing the film. The shots are neat and I will show you more next time I take it out with me.
There are a few ways to convert a 127 camera to take 35mm film. The easiest is if you own a 127 camera that is wide enough to allow for the 35mm cartridge to sit inside of it or if you don’t have a camera that is able to do that (like me) you will have to respool 35mm film onto a 127 roll.