Kodak Hawk Eye

As many readers will know, I enjoy using film cameras. Much to my delight whilst I was rummaging through one of my many boxes of bits and pieces I came across a camera I had inherited from a great great uncle (yes he was my father’s great uncle, not a typo!)

What was the camera? It was a Kodak Cartridge Hawk Eye 2 Model B.

Time for some research.

Information on the Hawk Eye is fairly limited. What I managed to discover was that this particular version of the camera was manufactured in Canada from 1926 to 1933. Constructed of cardboard with a leatherette covering, the inner shell is made from metal (probably thin steel) and painted black. Focus is fixed. The taking lens is a single glass element, single shutter speed which is around 1/30th second, aperture guessing again looks to be f11.

The shutter is triggered by a lever on the side towards the front of the camera and being a simple design it actuates on both the up and down stroke. Film advance is via a wind knob on the side and frame number is indicated on the rear of the camera through a small red window. The frame number is from the information printed on the actual film, which incidentally is 120 roll film. There are 8 exposures per roll of film, the size of the image being 6 x 9 cm or in imperial 2.25 x 3.25 inches.

There are 2 viewing lenses, one for portrait framing the other for landscape.

How does the camera perform? Only one way to find out, take it out and try it!

Loaded with a roll of 100 ISO rated 120 black and white film, I took the Kodak with me when we went for a walk on Christmas day around our local park. Fortunately it was a bright sunny day, with one shutter speed and fixed aperture photography on a very dull overcast day is a non starter, back when the Kodak was produced there was not the range of films available to us now.

The results.

Centre of image is acceptable but edges are decidedly soft.

Midway into the image is acceptable but infinity again is soft.

Conclusion

When the camera was in it’s hey day the images produced would have been more than acceptable since they were probably only ever printed as contact prints or at best 5 x 3 inches. This was photography for everyone at an affordable price. More elaborate multi element lens cameras with adjustable focus, choice of shutter speeds and variable aperture were the domain of the professional photographer.

C

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