Thrift pick: Brownie Super 26 Kodak viewfinder camera

The Brownie series of Kodak cameras has a long, significant history on the world of digital gadgets. Kodak recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Brownie camera, which revolutionized the way we communicate through photograph– a camera that cost just one dollar when it was first introduced.

The Brownie Super 27 was one of the more compact gadgets in the series. It is a viewfinder camera that took 4x4cm images on 127 film. It was made in the USA by Kodak, from August 1961 to June 1965. It has a built-in flash holder for AG-1 flashbulbs, covered by a door beside the lens.

The f/8 Kodak lens has two aperture stops: “SUNNY” (f/13.5) and “CL’DY BR’T/FLASH” (f/8), selected by a knob on the front, between the viewfinder and lens. There are two focus zones, “CLOSE-UP” (3½-6ft) and “BEYOND 6ft”.

The shutter has two speeds, 1/80 when the flash door is closed, and 1/40 when open. Winding the film cocks the shutter, hence preventing double-exposures.

Other camera specs:

  • Manufacturer: Kodak, USA
  • Introduced: Aug 1961
  • Withdrawn: June 1965
  • Original cost: $19.00
  • Lens: Kodar, f8
  • Shutter: Fixed 1/80th or 1/40th
  • Film: 127

I was especially excited to find this model for a dollar at a local thrift store. The simple flat design and matte metal encasing with that classic Kodak logo in red looks great on a bookshelf. The few twisting knobs, tiny eye piece and deep cultural significance make for a great minimalist conversation piece.

For a lot of collectors of vintage gadgets, there are a lot of sought after iterations in the Brownie series. And a very select few are known to fetch a few hundred dollars.

For more information about decorating with vintage cameras, check out my piece on incorporating vintage cameras into a modern living space.