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Thread: Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

  1. #1

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    In wild delight I found an actually old camera at Value Village (as opposed to point-and-shoots from the '90s, bleh!), a Kodak Brownie Starmite. Upon coming home I realized it took 127 film, so I pulled it apart. On some whim I decided to make a camera with it, so I took a two-piece cardboard box that once held 4x6 paper, cut a hole in the lid, and taped the lens to it with approximately an entire roll of tape, coming up with a focal length of about 33mm. I poked a hole in a piece of aluminum foil with a pen and used that for the aperture (can't figure out the f-stop, though). Then I made the ugliest shutter known to man out of more black tape. I threw in some 2.5" x 3.5" photo paper, and, lo and behold, it actually worked! See its horrifying self below.

    I've posted the first (acceptable) photo from it in the Gallery B&W section. Attached files

  2. #2

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    Hmm. Without the tiny aperture, it would probably have shown you how much you underestimated the focal length -- normal for those cameras was 50 mm or longer (IIRC the Starmite was a 4x4, the lens for which is probably between 50 and 60 mm).

    OTOH, those lowly meniscus lenses can be surprisingly good. I've got one of around 90 mm taken from my (6x6 cm) Spartus Full-Vue that, reversed (a single meniscus is best if concave to the subject, with the stop in front by about half the inside radius, and stopped to f/11 or smaller) will just about cover 3x4 inches; might have to make up something to prove it...

  3. #3

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    a camera this "beauty-challenged" just has to take lovely photos- someday!

  4. #4

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    ImageMaker -- I've made the error of applying my pinhole knowledge to lenses, so the focal length is not correct. The distance from the lens to the film plane is 33mm -- I didn't measure anything, just picked the handiest box and hoped for super wide angle distortion fun! I'm still working on that elusive "expertise" -- it's a long way off.
    I just might try reversing the lens, though, hm.

    Staft -- I've been getting interesting results, to say the least. I've played around with the placement of the aperture and the curve of the film (paper) plane, but I have yet to find the happy place. Someday, indeed.

  5. #5

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    Around here finding the old folders is difficult but they go pretty cheap. Box cameras are a little more available but seem to go for premium prices.

    They should have had advance tape classes in school, they would come in handy about now.

  6. #6

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    marv, we are in the process of proposing new majors at my college- maybe i will suggest a taping major, or at least a minor emphasis in the paste department...

  7. #7

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    Quote Originally Posted by staft
    marv, we are in the process of proposing new majors at my college- maybe i will suggest a taping major, or at least a minor emphasis in the paste department...
    If you need help with the curriculm.....

    Duct tape, Electrical tape (friction and regular, the differences are many) Masking tape (06334, 3M, 3/4 in. is my favorite).....

    ....sorry to hijack your thread popscratch, but tape is such a sticky subject....

  8. #8

    Homemade camera with Kodak Brownie Starmite lens

    Quote Originally Posted by popscratch
    ImageMaker -- I've made the error of applying my pinhole knowledge to lenses, so the focal length is not correct. The distance from the lens to the film plane is 33mm -- I didn't measure anything, just picked the handiest box and hoped for super wide angle distortion fun! I'm still working on that elusive "expertise" -- it's a long way off.
    I just might try reversing the lens, though, hm.
    The big bonus here is that with a tiny aperture, you still get acceptable images because the circle of confusion is so small.

    I have noted that with the lens I have, the focal length appears a little longer with the lens "reversed" (concave to the subject) than as it was originally in the camera, but if you're modifying the camera anyway, it wouldn't be hard to put ground glass, frosted plastic, etc. where the film/paper will be and actually visually set the focus before fixing the lens in place. With f/64 aperture (after setting, or it'll be too dim to see) you only have to be close, not very exact at all...

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