The Brownie Starmatic was the first automatic Brownie camera.  Featuring the standard, fixed-focus Kodar lens and “Instant” shutter setting, this little gem also sports Automatic Exposure control.  Its built-in exposure meter allows the camera to adjust between Kodak’s EV (exposure value scale) numbers 12 to 16.  See chart below.  A dial on top of the camera can be turned to Auto or manually set to EV numbers 12 through 16.  As you cycle through the EV numbers you will see the aperture change with each setting.  Another dial allows the ASA (ISO) film speed value to be selected.  Here’s where the camera shows its age, ASA numbers range from only 32 to 125.  A meter needle in the viewfinder moves up and down depending on the exposure reading to notify the photographer that a change of exposure or flash is necessary.  The molded body is exactly the same as its cousins the Starmite, Starmeter, Starluxe, etc.  An Open/Lock switch on the bottom of the camera allows the film assembly to be removed for easy film loading.  Another knob on the bottom is used for film advance.  The shutter is cocked when the film is advanced for double exposure prevention.  The standard red window for frame number viewing is present on the back of the camera, and the viewfinder is fairly large and bright.  The shutter release is a red switch on the front of the camera near the lens.  Like the other ‘Star’ Brownies the Starmatic takes the nearly obsolete 127 roll film yielding twelve 4x4cm negatives.  B&H Photo and The Frugal Photographer are in my opinion the best online resources for 127 film.  Expect to pay around five dollars per roll.  Black and White ISO 100 is always available, The Frugal Photographer supplies color 127 roll film when it’s in stock.

This table represents the available EV settings on the
Starmatic and the exposure situations for each.

12 Subject in heavy overcast.
13 Subject in cloudy-bright light (no shadows).
14 Subject in weak, hazy sun.
15 Subject in bright or hazy sun (Sunny f/16 rule).
16 Subject in bright daylight on sand or snow.

Kodak Brownies are generally simple cameras, and the Starmatic is no exception.  However, these later molded plastic models are slightly harder to take apart than their Bakelite predecessors.  Flip the small switch on the bottom of the camera from lock to open and the whole film carrier drops out.  Since the camera is essentially a small cylinder, it is very difficult to reach the inside of the lens and shutter so it is very unlikely this will need to be cleaned, unless the camera was not well maintained.  The front of the camera features the simple Kodar lens, supposedly glass, which is attached to the thin metal faceplate that appears to be clipped into the molded body.  No screws are visible and removing this faceplate may be more trouble than it’s worth.  A soft towel, cotton swabs and Windex are perfect for overall cleaning of this camera.

As with most Kodak Brownie cameras, they are prolific on EBay.  As always patience is rewarded.  Just place a maximum bid around five dollars and wait.  If you don’t win, another auction will usually come along within a few hours.  You shouldn’t pay more than five to six dollars for shipping, since these items are small and light, unless the original box and/or case is included.  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.

Eastman Kodak
North Star Camera Collection
Kodak Camera History
List of Kodak Brownie Cameras
Michael Helms Kodak Museum
Classic Film Sizes
Kodak 127 Film 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