Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Brownie Points

Playing with old cameras offers many pleasures. The cameras themselves are beautiful objects. Shooting pictures with them is a wild adventure full of surprises. And exploring their history is fascinating. I just learned something cool about my Kodak Brownie Starflex.

When I got this camera, research told me the model was manufactured from 1957 to 1964. I assumed that range of dates was the most you could learn but I just discovered it's possible to date particular cameras more precisely. Inside the camera is a hidden code which reveals the exact month each camera was made. Four letters are stamped on the metal and a secret key translates them.

My camera says "CMRS" which means this camera was made December 1957. That date has significance: I was born November 1957. This camera is the same age I am!

I bought some 127-roll film and shot a roll of black-and-white photos. Not attempting art, just doing a test-run to see if and how well the camera works. The images are sharper than I expect from a cheap plastic lens and have the characteristic muddiness of old film. These qualities give Brownie pictures their distinctive look. Here are a few I just developed.


  1. How cool that you were able to date your camera, Ally! I love these pictures - they really have an "old timey" look to them.

  2. Strange to see modern clothing rendered in sepia (or near enough). Sounds like 1957 was a good year!
    xo JJ

  3. I'll have to have a closer look at our collection of Brownie cameras! Thanks for the tip! What a coincidence that the camera's the same age as you. Love the timelessness of those pictures! xxx

  4. That's such an interesting fact! It's fascinating that you and your camera are of an age!