June 1, 2013 by darl0153
Wow, it’s been over a year since I last posted on this blog – time really does fly when real life gets in the way.
I’m going to try and keep on top of posting up new cameras on a more regular basis, starting with this little beauty:
The Kodak Brownie Twin 20 looks like a jolly, happy little camera (front on it reminds me of the dog, Brian, from Family Guy) and was introduced by Kodak in April 1959, it was made at first in New York, then later on in England during the early 60’s, until 1964 when it was discontinued. Cost wise in 1959, they would have been around $11 (£4.00)
(I don’t think I need to go into detail about Kodak, they are one of the biggest producers and innovators of photography and photographic equipment – there’s far too much to detail here – I’ve added a few excellent links at the bottom if you do want to learn more)
The Twin 20 is a black, molded plastic box camera with an aluminium faceplate and side panels. It is very similar in style to other Kodak camera of the time, most notably the Starlet, Starflash and Starmite (more on these at a later date, they are on my ‘to do’ list)
It takes 620 film, producing 12 6x6cm negatives. The lens is a f/11 meniscus lens with continuous focusing from 4ft to infinity, marked on the lens at 3 common intervals – Close-Ups (4-6ft) – Groups (6-12ft) and Scenes (12ft-infinity). The aperture has 3 exposure values of 13 (colour film in bright sun), 14 (B&W film in sunlight with average surroundings) and 15 (B&W film exposed in bright sun, sand or snow) so there is some aperture control. The shutter is single speed and there are flash pin contacts on the side.
What makes the Twin 20 kind of special, and also gives it it’s name is the two view finders, one an eye-level sports finder on the rear of the camera, and the other a waist-level finder on the top (incorporating a 45° mirror in the body). Both viewfinders are ‘brilliant’ finders, giving crisp and bright images of your subject. The finders also have ‘Super-slide’ markings; these are raised lines on the viewfinders that indicate the area for Super Slides (see separate note on Super-Slides)
The film is loaded by sliding a button on the base of the camera to the ‘OPEN’ position and sliding the base plate out of the body. There is a second small sliding button that needs to be switched to the ‘LOAD’ position to be able to load the film (took me a while to work this out) – once the film is loaded into the holder and inserted back into the camera (and locked) the small switch has to be moved to the ‘EXP.1-12’ position to be able to wind the film on. This is a double exposure prevention device, meaning; the shutter won’t fire unless the film has been advanced to the next frame. When winding to the next frame the shutter will cock and the film will stop winding at the correct point. There is no need to check the numbers through the small red window unless you need to see how many shots you have left.
Super slides, also known as 46mm slides are slides made from medium format film, trimmed and mounted into special slides with a 1.5’x1.5’ mount rather than the usual 1”x1.5” mount. They fit into a standard 35mm slide projector (medium format slide projectors were very pricey). In theory this should produce slides of better image quality, especially when using large display projectors. Although some regular slide projectors can’t cope with the larger size and create vignetting at the corners.
This is a great camera, Sturdy and well built. It handles really nice and because of it’s brilliant view finders is a joy to shoot with. I preferred using the waist level finder as the hole to view the eye level one is a bit on the small side, oh, and I did keep forgetting to focus the camera (although I do that with quite a few cameras) so just left it on the ‘Scenes’ setting for most the time.
I’m really pleased with how the images turned out, sharp in the center with obvious blurring towards the edges, good tonal ranges and exposure levels.
I wasn’t too keen on the double exposure prevention though, there’s no way around it, so double exposures (something I like to do occasionally) are out of the question (I suppose I could take the film out, rewind it and shoot it again) but it was probably a useful feature to the average family photographer (I know I’ve taken unintentional double exposures in the past)
If you like happy looking cameras (it makes me smile when I use it) and blurry edges get yourself one of these, it’s a great little camera, and these pop up on eBay quite often for not much money at all. One I’ll be using quite a lot I think.
Websites used for information:
http://www.butkus.org/chinon/kodak/kodak_brownie_twin_20/kodak_brownie_twin_20.htm (takes you to a downloadable PDF manual)
There’s also a fantastic documentary on George Eastman by PBS: