Not to be confused with the Bulls-Eye box cameras that Kodak produced at the turn of the century, this is the big boy of the Bakelite Brownies.  My affinity for the Kodak Bakelite Brownies, as I like to call them, began when I received a Brownie Bullet as a gift.  These small hard plastic, point and shoot cameras are both charming and cheap; a great way to enter Medium Format photography.   During the 50s and 60s Eastman Kodak continued its goal of bringing photography to the masses by introducing several types of inexpensive Bakelite cameras for the whole family.  Before the Bull’s-Eye most of the Bakelite Brownies could fit in the palm of your hand, perfect for children, but this camera is a beast.  Actually sporting a glass, not plastic, Twindar lens and the ability to change the focus, not to mention the large 6x9cm negative (portrait), the Bull’s Eye improves versatility.  Although originally designed to accept only the now obsolete 620 film format, 120 film can be used with simple modifications.  See below.  The simple, single-speed, rotary shutter is still the norm, but a Bulb option is available by moving the small lever on the faceplate from “instant” (approx 1/50) to “long.”  The Bull’s Eye also allows the operator to choose from a full range of focus settings from 4 feet to Infinity.  The Depth of Field scale (using the term loosely) is actually just indicators for Close-upGroup and Scenes provided on the faceplate to simplify focusing, along with a notch at 10ft to “lock” the focus for general use.  Another nice feature is the double-exposure prevention.  Simple but effective, a small, metal, lightning bolt crosses the large viewfinder after the shutter has been tripped.  This locks the shutter and reminds the operator that an exposure has been made.  The viewfinder is setup as portrait and in order to take a landscape image, the camera must be turned so the large, plastic shutter release button is on top.   This camera can be found in the standard black bakelite and silver metal trim, or the gold bakelite with gold metal trim version.  Both accept the small Kodak flash gun attachment.

As with other Kodak Bakelite Brownies cleaning is quite easy.  Simply use Windex or a 50/50 ammonia/hydrogen peroxide solution to clean the body and lens.  The glass Twindar lens is recessed within a black plastic ring/hood, so chances are that the lens will be in good condition.  I have seen however, several auctions for this camera that mention a white powdery substance around the lens and the hood.  Mine came the same way.  This may be some kind of residue that forms over time from the plastic used in the hood; just a guess.   Whatever it is, it cleans up easily with the ammonia/peroxide solution, and doesn’t seem to harm the lens.  As with all of my Kodak Bakelite Brownies, a good cleaning was all that was needed.  The lens on this camera did have some internal dust and fungus, so taking it apart was necessary.  Like all of these cameras it is an easy job, the faceplate comes off after removing four small screws, remember which ones go where as two are much longer than the others.

Several of these older Kodak cameras were originally designed to take the proprietary and now obsolete 620 film rolls.  However, since the actual 620 and 120 film was exactly the same, only the circumference of the spool edges was different, it is possible to simply trim the edges of the plastic 120 film spool with scissors or wire cutters.  You can eyeball it or mark the edge with the original take-up spool from the camera.  Just trim in such a way, that the trimming residue falls away from the film.  This will reduce any chance of contamination.  I have done this several times with perfect results.

As with all of my Brownie acquisitions, I was lucky with this one.  I was the only bidder and snagged this baby for only $2.00 plus shipping.  You can’t get into 6x9cm negatives any cheaper.  These are a little harder to find than the Holiday, Bullet, Starmite, etc., but as with most of these cameras it can be found for less than ten dollars.   Just make sure the seller has posted a decent picture of the camera, or ask the seller if the lens is clean or scratched.  All of these cameras are simple to use and don’t require film to test, so if the seller claims they don’t know if it functions, email the seller asking them to turn the knob and fire the shutter.  In the case of the Bull’s-Eye ask if the focus ring turns smoothly.  Regarding shipping, if the auction is for the camera only, sometimes a flash is included, expect to pay around six to eight dollars for Priority USPS.   Be suspicious if they are charging much more and ask why.

kodakbrowniebullseye-sample1 kodakbrowniebullseye-sample2 kodakbrowniebullseye-sample3

Eastman Kodak
Brownie Bull’s-Eye
Wikipedia Brownie Cameras 
Kodak Cameras 
Kodak Brownie Cameras

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s