Vintage Camera Reviews

the Beacon Two Twenty-Five

Made by Whitehouse Products INC in Brooklyn, NY from 1950 to 1959, the Beacon 225 was named for the 2.25 inch square pictures it takes. Like many cameras made then, it’s made of Bakelite plastic. An old ad stated that it was made of molded shock-resistant plastic from General Electric.

When I researched this camera, the samples I saw didn’t have any options to change the aperture or shutter, so I am guessing my example is later in production. The two settings are Dull (I think f8) and bright (I think f11). Then of course it has the two usual settings, Instant and Time.

Beacon 225

It has that leftover Art Deco style from the 1940’s and almost looks like a radio with an antenna. The telescoping lens on the front pulls out by pushing the two buttons on either side of the box in at the same time and pulling the front box outwards. While it’s pushed in, the shutter won’t fire. This prevents accidental shots.

Beacon 225

It came with an Ever-ready simulated leather case that had a genuine leather strap attached to it, but mine is long gone.

Beacon 225 Ever ready case

It was the point and shoot of the 1950’s. Having only limited exposure options, it’s basically a box camera. It has a fixed 70mm lens and a shutter speed of around 1/50th of a second. It takes 12 6x6cm shots on 620 film.

beacon 225 side
Inside the Beacon 225

You cannot load it with 120 film unless you trim the rim around the spool. Even then it’s very snug and you’ll have to use a 620 spool for take up. The rollers seemed to scratch my film a little bit when I forced the 120 film. You can see the scratches on the pic below, but that also could’ve been caused by my squeegee.

taken with the Beacon 225
faint scratches appear across the picture

Who is Ruth Kalish?

When I received this camera from my Uncle in one of his mail call boxes for me to rescue, I immediately noticed this camera because one, the mint shape it was in; two, it had a woman’s name taped to the back; and three, there was a roll of film still inside.

The name Ruth Kalish was on the back of the camera and my mind immediately had so many questions. Who was she? Wonder what she looked like. What did she take pictures of with this camera? Luckily, I was going to find the answer to that last question. This was years back when I didn’t yet know how to develop film myself, so I sent it off to Darkroom Lab and hoped it would have at least one picture on it. I was happy when I got these scans back. I wonder if Ruth is one of the ladies in these shots.

My Experience

Pictures can be taken from 5.5 feet or more away from your subject, like most fixed focus cameras.

taken with the Beacon 225

I thought the two small aperture settings would help with focus but the depth of field for this camera is more so for background, not so much foreground. Sometimes everything could be in focus accept the center. I always mess up with these kinds of cameras when it comes to minimum distance. You can see this in the picture below.

taken with the Beacon 225
While the foreground and background appear to be sharp, the subject in the center is not.

I was surprised that the next shot came out because the garage was dark, but it actually came out with a lot of detail. This didn’t happen with previous box-like cameras I have tested. So I really liked the two aperture options.

taken with the Beacon 225
My fiancé BBQing. I was surprised this shot came out.

The next shot was also a nice surprise. I was hoping to catch the clouds reflecting in the car window, and was happy when I developed them and found that it did.

taken with the Beacon 225
taken with the Beacon 225

I also took the camera with me to my chiropractors appointment, and tested it in the shade.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I really enjoyed shooting with this camera. The shutter is really quiet. It wasn’t difficult to advance to the next frame like it has been for me with past 620 cameras that I have forced 120 film into.

I would use this camera again. It’s nice to look at on a shelf, and now it can be used. Those are the two factors I like in a camera. Check out more on my review of this camera in my video below.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

5 thoughts on “the Beacon Two Twenty-Five

    1. Nice review Aly! I just got a Beacon 225 recently but haven’t taken it out for a photo shoot. One question. Did you make any special effort to cover the red exposure counter window on the camera back during you photo shoot to prevent extraneous light leaks? Keep up the good work with the vintage cameras!

  1. Awesome. You reminded me of a long-ago film photo blogger whose blog was named after this camera. Wonder whatever became of him.

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