My local vintage store has a corner with stacks of cameras. Most are battered, unattractive, or unusable because film is no longer available. Some are both ugly and unusable: Kodak Instant Camera, anyone?
I found a No. 2 Brownie in the pyramid of box cameras which was interesting because it takes 120 film and it was cheap. The camera was in decent shape. The viewfinder and lens needed some cleaning. The cloth door hinge was loose and the latch tended to slide open. A rubber band fixed both of these problems.
No. 2 Brownies were introduced in 1901 and was sold for over 35 years with many variations. I learned from the incredible Brownie Camera Page that mine is a Model C, from between 1907-1914. Note that the No. 2a takes discontinued 116 film, NOT 120. Model number is important!
Body and construction. It's a small box made of cardboard, cloth with a leatherette texture, wood, cloth tape and some metal. In materials it has more in common with a book than a modern camera. Later models had metal inserts, then metal bodies.
As I've said in a previous essay, my first real 35mm camera was an Olympus OM-1n. It was the best I could afford at the time. Nikons and Canons were too expensive.
In college I worked on the newspaper and their cameras were Nikons: F2s and FMs. The cameras were big, heavy, and loud compared to the Olympus but the lenses. Oh, the lenses. And considering how the pool cameras were abused I was impressed by their durability.
Fast forward 20 years. I use Nikon digital and the later Nikon film cameras (F5 and F100). But I find myself nostalgic for a manual focus camera. The FE and FM bodies are identical but FEs are cheaper. I ended up with a beautiful black FE2 and a 35mm f/1.4, a lens that I couldn't dream of affording in college days. I enjoyed shooting with it so much I bought a second FE2 in chrome.
History. Zeiss, now known for lenses, made cameras until the 1970s. Their medium format folding cameras were mostly sold under the name Ikonta starting before World War II. There were many different formats and lens options over the years. Certo6, who restores folding cameras, has an excellent introduction to the different models.
The Super Ikonta III and IV were the last models produced, from the mid-50s until around 1960. The IV is a III with a built-in light meter.
I found an Agfa Isolette at a local vintage store which I restored and used. I like the size and the quality of the pictures. I didn't like the "guess the distance" zone focusing. I sold the Isolette and bought a restored Super Ikonta III. I've been using it for five years, and like it so much I bought a second two years ago.
I'll talk about my particular camera - with a a 3-element Novar lens, and Synchro-Compur shutter - in this review. Because there were many variations over the years individual models may have different features or specs.
After several years out of photography, and a couple of years using a DSLR I was ready for a change.
My local camera store has a used equipment case strategically placed so you can browse while the staff is in the back fetching whatever it is you came in for.
There was a Mamiya C330 that looked almost new that reminded me of the TLR I used in the 80s. During the next week I kept thinking about it, and I went back to the store to take another look. Too late, sold. They did have one other medium format camera, though...
That's how I ended up with a Hasselblad 500C/M in 2008.
I began shooting the series Descent on medium format using a Hasselblad and the Fuji GF670. My father became more impatient and impulsive and these cameras could not keep up with him. I purchased an F5 because it had fast focus and film advance. I've been using it for about 4 years.