Kodak no. 2 Folding Brownie Autographique
Kodak no. 2 Folding Brownie Autographique

This is the oldest camera I have in my possession at the moment. I am not fully sure of the date of this model, but it is certainly before 1917 when the case changed from square to rounded ends. The shutter on the model I have is the Ball Bearing shutter, (as this is written on the housing), these were used until 1923. It gives shutter speeds of 1/25, B (Bulb, stays open while depressed), T (Tripod, stays open until pressed a second time), 1/50.

There is a lot of information about this on the internet, some of which contradicts. I am using the George Eastman House Technology Archives catalog record as the most reliable. The information on Camerapedia (and various other write-ups) states that the ball bearing shutter had a speed setting for 1/100, but both mine and a further example which states the shutter type also to be the ball bearing do not have this setting, therefore this information is in doubt.

It has four apertures, on my model these are listed as 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Camerapedia lists these as being f/8, f/16, f/32 and f/64. For a while I wondered about this, as f/64 seems very small for the days of slower film (Sunny 16 at ISO 100 would require 1/8s) but it seems this is the so called US scale – these equate to actual apertures of f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/32.

The manual lists a complex set of instructions for using the different apertures, based more around depth of field than exposure – perhaps as focusing is slightly rough. As a guide aperture 8 (1, on my model, f/11 and 1/25s is suggested for sunny day snapshots suggesting ISO 50 film. So an exposure table would be something like this:

Film Exposure Kodak Aperture Effective Aperture EV (Conditions) Notes
50 25 1 f/11 13 (Cloudy Bright)
2 f/16 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
3 f/22 15 (Bright Sun)
4 f/32 16 (Sand or Snow)
50 1 f/11 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
2 f/16 15 (Bright Sun)
3 f/22 16 (Daylight in sand or snow)
4 f/32 17 1
100 25 1 f/11 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
2 f/16 13 (Cloudy Bright)
3 f/22 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
4 f/32 15 (Bright Sun)
 50 1 f/11 13 (Cloudy Bright)
2 f/16 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
3 f/22 15 (Bright Sun)
4 f/32 16 (Sand or Snow)
200 25 1 f/11 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
2 f/16 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
3 f/22 13 (Cloudy Bright)
4 f/32 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
50 1 f/11 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
2 f/16 13 (Cloudy Bright)
3 f/22 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
4 f/32 15 (Bright Sun)
400 25 1 f/11 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
2 f/16 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
3 f/22 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
4 f/32 13 (Cloudy Bright)
50 1 f/11 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
2 f/16 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
3 f/22 13 (Cloudy Bright)
4 f/32 14 (Weak Hazy Sun)
800 25 1 f/11 9 (10min after sunset, Spotlighted subjects)
2 f/16 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
3 f/22 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
4 f/32 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
50 1 f/11 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
2 f/16 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
3 f/22 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
4 f/32 13 (Cloudy Bright)
1600 25 1 f/11 8 (Bright city squares, Bright interiors)
2 f/16 9 (10min after sunset, Spotlighted subjects)
3 f/22 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
4 f/32 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
50 1 f/11 9 (10min after sunset, Spotlighted subjects)
2 f/16 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
3 f/22 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
4 f/32 12 (Open Shade, Heavy Overcast)
3200 25 1 f/11 7 (Bright night time streets, Stage shows)
2 f/16 8 (Bright city squares, Bright interiors)
3 f/22 9 (10min after sunset, Spotlighted subjects)
4 f/32 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
50 1 f/11 8 (Bright city squares, Bright interiors)
2 f/16 9 (10min after sunset, Spotlighted subjects)
3 f/22 10 (Landscapes immediately after sunset
4 f/32 11 (Sunset, Deep shade)
Notes
1 This EV is rarely, if ever found in nature.

The bulb and tripod settings allow for some low light work – for example an average home interior (EV 6) could use aperture setting 1 (f/11) and 1 sec. One further trick that could be used is setting the shutter to bulb, and pressing and releasing the shutter as quickly as possible. This gives an exposure of approximately 1/15s, so allowing approximately one EV lower than the 1/25 setting.

The Spirits - Kodak Folding Brownie No2 Autographique and Kodak Tri-X 400.
The Spirits - Kodak Folding Brownie No2 Autographique and Kodak Tri-X 400.
It cost $12 in 1917, equivalent to a little over $200 now but much more if relative costs and wages are taken into account.

Focusing is difficult. An indicator with 2 positions (2,50m and 30m) is fixed on the cradle of the apparatus and gives an estimate of the distance to the subject. The viewfinder screen is of limited use (and none at all in any kind of lower light) as it is not very bright (and reversed).  I think the bellows on my model leak, along with light round the autographique hatch.

The following variations are listed on www.brownie-camera.com/83.shtml:

Feb 1916: new style Autographic attachment from serial number 53,501.
Jan 1917: square ended cases changed to round from serial number 133,301.
Oct 1919: support foot shape changed from shallow S cure to shallow C curve from serial number 375,601.

Achromatic lens: Sept 1915-23: ball bearing shutter; 1924-26: Kodex shutter Rapid Rectilinear lens: Nov 1915-23: ball bearing shutter; 1924-April 1926: Kodex shutter
Kodar f/7.9 lens: May 1925 – Sept 1926:
Kodex shutter UK Variation: Anastigmat f/6.3 lens: 1926: Kodex shutter.

I have tried to locate the serial number on mine. The number 10866 is marked in two places on the lens surround, which if it is the serial number makes mine a very early model. I have read elsewhere that the number is in fact on the base plate, hidden by the bellows.

Vital Statistics

Type: Folding camera
Year of launch: 1915
Lens: Achromatic lens or Rapid Rectilinear – see variations below.
Film/framesize: Roll film (size 120), “Autographic” variant (A120),  size: 2¼×3¼
Shutter: Kodak Ball Bearing Shutter with speeds B, T, 1/25 sec., 1/50 sec.
Aperture: f/11, f/16, f/22, and f/32.
Viewfinder: Reflecting Brilliant finder.
Focusing: Sliding focusing with lock.

You can view the manual via Butkus.org