The two new Brownie Hawkeye Flashes and the Trailblazer 120 (see below) arrived yesterday. Actually, they arrived just as I was starting to take apart the Foldex-20. I was disappointed with the test roll I shot with the Foldex—then again, when I purchased this one, it was mainly with the thought of using it as a respooling mechanism. That, however, didn’t work out that well. I decided to see what difference it would make to unscrew the front piece and clean the lens. While I was at it, I decided to do a variation on the brownie and holga mods I had read about (or viewed and listened to) online and try to run a roll of 35mm through the camera. I wasn’t sure how far to advance the film, so with this test roll, I did three turns of the film advance knob. I ended up getting 7 shots on a 24 exposure roll of 35mm. Hmm. If these photos even turn out, if this mod is even worth attempting again, I can see if I can get by with fewer turns on the advance knob so I can get more shots per roll. My other option would be to convert the Foldex-20 into a pinhole camera. Sounds like this mod is pretty easy.
As for the Brownies: Compared with the condition my first Brownie was in when it arrived, these new Brownies look like they were made yesterday. (The Trailblazer 120 is another story.) The Brownies didn’t need nearly as much cleaning as the first one did but I wanted to see if I could clean up the plastic viewing mechanisms and the viewing mirror so that I could get better ttv (through the viewfinder) shots. Getting the right screw on the top of the plate to come out proved to be a real feat. With patience and much persistence, I eventually managed to get the front piece off one of the new Brownies as well as my old one, but the other new Brownie—well, I decided to leave that one for another day. Odd since the screws don’t appear to be rusty. But the top right-side one, wowsa. Hard—almost impossible—to get out.
Aside from being much cleaner (and so newer looking) than my first Brownie, these Brownies don’t have brackets on the plastic viewfinder piece on the top of the camera. No biggy, just a small difference I noted. I decided not to flip the lenses on either of these (I've still got the lens flipped in the first one I bought) until I run test rolls in them. I’m eager to see if these will accept 35mm film and to see if I can use a trimmed 120 spool in both the supply and take-up sides of the camera as I’ve (most miraculously) been able to do with the first brownie. Anything to avoid losing my 620 spools, respooling by hand and/or attempting again to use the Foldex to respool!
As for the Trailblazer 120. Sigh. I have to say, when I decided to purchase these items, I saw the Trailblazer as a bonus extra--kinda like getting a toy in a cereal box. I’ve only been able to find a few references to this camera online or on flickr and from what little I’ve read, it’s not a stellar performer. But that’s fine. The whole lot was only 8-9 bucks and that covered the two brownies, one flash attachment, a couple of flash bulbs, the box that one of the cameras and the flash attachment and bulbs originally came in and the trailblazer. The seller had it marked as a Kodak Trailblazer but that’s not correct. Kodak didn’t, in fact, make the Trailblazer 120.
So I tried cleaning the exterior but got nowhere fast. The front and back pieces are metal and they were a bit easier to clean, the front especially. I cleaned up the lens and ran a test roll through. Like the Foldex-20, the Trailblazer only takes 8 shots on a roll of 120. What’s worse, like the Foldex, it’s hard to tell (by sound alone) if the shutter worked correctly. And since I’ve taken myself off bulb-time settings, well, I had to trust that it worked with the regular setting. I don’t have the greatest hope for these shots. Actually, I don’t really have any hope that they turned out. Besides the shutter issues, it’s hard to keep the camera steady while pushing in the button for the shutter—this is also the case with the Foldex but the Foldex has a tripod mount which helps a bit. So I’m guessing that if the Trailblazer’s shutter worked, the pics will all be blurry. Ah well. Again, I saw this camera as a bonus extra—probably not one I will use that often or maybe even again. Bummer to only get 8 shots per roll. That said, I would be open to seeing if I can run a roll of 35mm through the Trailblazer since making mistakes with a roll of 35mm is cheaper (in terms of film and developing costs) than making mistakes with a roll of 120. I want to wait, however, before attempting this to see how much extra space was left between shots on the Foldex.