Vintage Camera Reviews

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera – Flash Model

The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye was made from 1949-1961. It’s made of Bakelite and was designed by Kodaks own designer Arthur Hunt Crapsey Jr. It was one of many easy to use cameras Kodak Eastman made for the everyday person who simply wanted to take snap shots of their everyday life.

Upgraded in the 1950’s and given the added title of Flash Model, the Brownie Hawkeye was now capable of pairing with many of the Kodak pin and screw type flashes.

vintage 1950s ad

The camera is simple with a shutter button and advance knob on one side, with the switch for instant to bulb on the other. It doesn’t have a tripod socket, or lugs for a strap. It does have a handle on the top.

It takes 12 6×6 shots on 620 film. The lens, which is around 80mm, focuses from 5 feet to infinity according to the manual, but it is believed that it is really 10 feet or more. In my experience, with the pictures you’ll see later, I feel I was able to get a little closer than that.

The shutter is somewhere around 1/30th of a second with an aperture around f/15 which means you have to be really steady holding it while taking a shot. You will want to use 100 speed film in bright sun, and 160-400 in cloudy situations, but indoors won’t work with this shutter.

Later versions of the camera have a plastic knurled advance knob, and a recessed viewfinder instead of the domelike one on earlier models. There is also no prevention of double exposures, so you want to make it a habit of advancing right after each shot.

To see what month and year your camera was made, remove the camera back, and below the patent info should be 4 letters. In my case the letters are YMRA. Using Kodaks code word CAMEROSITY and the corresponding numbers underneath each letter 1234567890, you can figure out your manufacture date. Kodaks calendar was broken up into 4 week periods. For example mine would be 03/52, so my camera was manufactured on the 3rd 4 week period of the year 1952 which would be somewhere around March and April of 1952.

My Experience

The camera had a roll of film inside of it when I received it. At that point I hadn’t shot any film since I was a kid, so I totally forgot the protocols of keeping it out of the light. I am not sure if film was even making a resurgence at that point. So, I left it in the camera until I did start getting back into shooting film. Until then it was just a decorative piece in my house.

Later, when I did start shooting film again, I sent the roll of Verichrome film off to the lab and was surprised to get anything back at all.

As always I am wondering who these people are. Are they still alive? Its always exciting to find a roll of film still inside an old camera, like a time capsule.

Fast forward several years to 2020, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, I decided to join Project Box Camera and this was one of the cameras I chose to shoot with. It was a little rough on the outside and the lenses were a bit dirty so I decided to take it apart and clean it up.

As you can see from the pictures below, even though I cleaned the camera with alcohol, it didn’t get rid of anything but superficial dirt. It still left behind rust, smudges on the bakelite, and what looks like speckles of white spray paint. I did a little research and found out about a product called Flitz Polish which removes rust. It also cleans metal and plastic.

Before the polish.

After polishing the camera with the Flitz, the Bakelite shined and the rust came off of the metal.

The next step of course was to shoot with it. 620 film is discontinued, but many cameras are able to accommodate a roll of 120. A 620 film spool is shorter than a 120 and the ends are thinner so at first I tried to clip the lips of a 120 spool and see if that would work the way it has for some of my other 620 cameras. After many frustrating attempts, I just could not get a roll of 120 to fit. It was just too wide. I had a couple rolls of 620 film (re-spooled 120 from FPP) so I just shot with them.

Lomography Redscale
Lomography Redscale
Lomography Redscale
Lomography Redscale
Kodak Tmax 100
Kodak Tmax 100

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed shooting with this camera. I really didn’t have any complaints other than the issue with trying 120 film. From what I’ve read in my research I seem to be the only one having this problem. I may give it another try. If you have any idea what I could be doing wrong, let me know in the comments below.

I really liked my results, especially the ones I took with my fiancé on Tmax. I was surprised they came out as good as they did with such a simple camera. For me, the price of re-spooled 620 film is not worth using in a camera like this, so if you can fit 120 in yours and if you like shooting with old cameras, I recommend this model. Its small and easy to hold still. The viewfinder is bright and clear and easy to take apart if you need to clean it up.

I have said that my Argus 75 is my favorite simple camera, and it still is, but this is probably a close second.

Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

9 thoughts on “Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera – Flash Model

  1. Hi! Mine doesn’t have the letter codes to know what year is there any way to determine the year without it? Thanks

  2. You can fit a roll of 120 film by sanding down
    The end caps until they are thin enough to fit
    In the brownie. Works great. Mark

  3. Some Hawkeye cameras will accept trimmed 120 and sone won’t. Seems like the longer it ran, the more effort Kodak put into locking out competing “wrong” film. I have two, one will, one won’t.

  4. I did a very similar clean-up job for Project Box Camera :o) I can wedge 120 film into mine (though I have a plastic winding knob, so maybe that’s a difference that matters), but it’s ever so stiff until you get to the middle of the film, then it eases off for a while before stiffening up again at the other end! Love the camera – got it for basically nothing, in very dirty condition, but it takes nice photos.

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