Eastman Kodak made millions of the small, Bakelite Brownie snapshot cameras during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The 127 is no exception. Three different models were made over the production run of the camera. In fact the 127 was actually produced and sold in England, except during 1953 – 1959 when it was imported to the United States. The first model was rounded but had smoother sides, the third model was squared off, a little larger and actually featured a cold hotshoe for flash, as well as a smaller 4x4cm square negative size.
This example is the second model produced from 1959 to 1963. The simple, molded Bakelite body sports a great, art-deco look with its rounded edges and ribbed sides. Cameras don’t get much more basic than this. The Dakon plastic lens produces images like the other 127 Brownies such as the Bullet, Holiday, etc. and the single speed, rotary shutter is approximately 1/50 with an aperture around f/11. The white, plastic shutter release button and film advance knob are the only moving parts outside the camera. The 127 is so named because it takes the nearly obsolete 127 roll film which yields eight 4x6cm negatives. Larger than 35mm but slightly smaller than standard 120 roll film, the 127 size is still considered Medium Format. B&H Photo and The Frugal Photographer are the best resources for acquiring 127 black and white film for reasonable prices, about $4.95 per roll. The Frugal Photographer usually offers color 127 film if in stock, and at slightly higher prices per roll. There is a round, metal latch next to the Made in England stamp on the bottom of the camera that is turned to remove the entire lower portion of the camera body for easy film loading, and the large, plastic viewfinder is sufficient for framing. The subject should be at least 5 feet away. While most of the images from these cameras are “soft” they can be quite impressive if taken under the correct lighting conditions. Plus they receive quite the interest from passers-by while out and about taking photographs.
CLEANING AND REPAIR
Like most Kodak Bakelite Brownies, the 127 is easy to clean and maintain. Windex or a 50/50 solution of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide is good for cleaning the body, viewfinder and lens.
Kodak Brownies of all types are very common on EBay. The 127 is not quite as prolific as say the Hawkeye or Bullet, but they can be found between $5 and $10 on average. Since these are very small and light cameras $5 to $7 dollars for Priority USPS shipping should be expected. As always patience is rewarded. Just place a maximum bid of five dollars or so and wait. If you don’t win, another auction will usually come along soon. Always look for good sample photos of the camera, since there are many of these cameras available, don’t settle for one that has been abused. All of my Brownies were acquired in near pristine condition for less than average bids.