Kodak Brownie Target Six-20

April 19, 2012  •  4 Comments

I have two Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 cameras in my collection. One of them is in incredible shape (especially considering the age of the item), while the other is pretty banged-up (see it below). [Related note: For this blog, I’ve decided that I’ll photograph my few banged-up cameras on location, i.e. in some abandoned house.]
 

"Kodak Brownie Target Six-20" "box camera" "620 film"Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 on location_Final
The Brownie family of cameras (introduced by Kodak Eastman in 1900) made photography affordable for the first time to the general public. The Target Six-20, one of the later models of box Brownies produced, was marketed between July of 1946 and May of 1952 and could be had for a mere $3.00. It was designed to be used with 620 film, which was discontinued in 1995; however, Brownie fans always find alternate ways to shoot with this camera, the most typical being re-spooling 120 film. Fairly-recent photo samples taken with this camera (using one of these alternate methods) can be seen here. (The sample photos are not mine.)

Much like most other box cameras, the Six-20 looks boring. The vertical-line design on its faceplate makes it cooler than most others out there, though. The one pictured here is the Canadian-made version of the Six-20 – the US version has a slightly different faceplate.

As dull as it looks, this camera makes a very nice display item and a great prop for photography as well.

The design is ultra simple: a box with two viewfinders (one for landscape photography, one for portraiture), a shutter release and a film wind knob. The fixed-focus meniscus lens can focus everything sharply from about 8 feet onward (approx. 2.40 metres). (A close-up attachment, No. 6A, was available to shoot subjects from 3 to 5 feet.) Even if it was intended to be a cheap camera, planned obsolescence was not in Kodak’s engineers’ minds when they designed this one: the Target Six-20 was built to last. (Case in point: when released, this camera’s shutter – at 60 years of age – makes a smoother sound than my buddy’s Scott’s Canon 40D’s shutter.)

The fixed shutter speed is moderately slow (1/50? 1/100?), so shooting in bright light must have been an uphill chore back in the day.

One of the things that made this Brownie camera an upgrade over earlier Brownies is that this one featured two different aperture options (apparently f/11 and f/16) as opposed to one, and the ability to shoot long exposures in bulb mode – the shutter remains open for as long as the bulb lever is held. I wonder if anybody tried shooting startrails in 1946?

If you have any interesting/fun/meaningful details about this camera, please share in the comments (using the link at the top left of this post).

Thanks for reading.

Federico


 


Comments

federico buchbinder / shadows and light
Hi there Jacci! Glad you found my blog too – I'll use your comment as a reminder that I need to update it :) I haven't tried the Brownie at all, to be honest. I have plenty of film cameras around here that want to be used much more than the Brownie :) One day, maybe!
Jacci Freimond-Rudling(non-registered)
HI there, I am so glad to have found your blog. I am a lover of vintage cameras among quite a few I have two Box Brownie Six 20's. I have found a way to adapt 35mm film to work with the camera and have had some manner of success - but much fun doing this. Mostly loving the color and shape, still have to work on getting perfect pics!!!! Have you tried shooting with 35mm film in the Brownie?
federico buchbinder / shadows and light
Hi Chris – I haven't shot with this camera, but I suggest emailing the guy who (I think) took the sample photos that I link to in the article: ryan at cameraofthemonth dot com. Hopefully this address is still monitored, because the website looks like it was abandoned a long time ago.
Chris(non-registered)
I just recently started using my fathers old target six 20 and I was thinking of trying some star trails with it. I thought it was funny that I wasn't the only one to think of doing that. If you have any tips of using this camera, I would love to know.
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