The Junior Six-20 camera was manufactured in the 1930’s by Kodak in Rochester, NY. It’s quite a nice little camera, although a bit plain. I would guess that it sold for somewhere between $20 and $30 when new.
It’s a folding, bellows camera. So, when you open it up, you pull the bellows out until it clicks into place. To unlock and fold back up, you press a small bar under the lens to release the lock. This “easy unlock” feature was new to the Series II.
It has a viewfinder that pops up on the top/side of the camera, or you can use the small viewfinder just above/next to the lens. This works like a waist level finder – similar to the small finders that came on box cameras. It allows you to shoot waist level with this camera in either portrait or landscape orientation.
I’m actually impressed that the bellows of these cameras last as long as they do. One common problem is fogging/clouding/hazing of the lenses. These lenses are so simple, though, that it’s easy to disassemble them and at least clean the outsides. The main lens, on the outside, that you turn to focus, can be removed (by removing the small stop screw and then unscrewing the lens). The inside, back lens element, can be removed easily too by simply folding the camera, and unscrewing the lens from the back (inside the back cover). Once removed, you can clean the glass like any lens – lens cleaner or nail polish remover or some other solvent to remove anything coating the glass, usually works at least partially. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, don’t. It’s better to get a camera repair person to help with this kind of thing before you ruin a good camera. Fortunately, these cameras are so old, and so inexpensive, there’s not much you can do to make them worse than they are. And, if you do make them worse, you’ve only lost $15 or $20. If you can get the gunk off the lens, they can make some pretty nice images – although they probably won’t make anything that will compare to any camera with better ways to focus and meter. I’m not great at focusing by numbers, but this gives a chance to practice.
This camera takes 620 film. Thankfully, you can roll your own 120 film onto 620 spools, or (better yet) you can buy film that others have rolled onto 620 spools. Here’s a link directly to the Film Photography Project’s 620 film section, in case you want to get a roll or 2.
Well, it seems that the shutter isn’t bad on this camera, and the bellows seems to be light tight. However, the lens and focusing seems to be off. I had a feeling this might be the case since it appeared to me that someone (and you never know what’s been done to cameras this old) has fooled around with the lens and maybe fixed, or tried to fix something in the past, and that may have messed up the focusing.
All in all, it’s a nice camera. Fun to get images at all! The one of Holly posing is cool – it’s very rare that she sits still long enough to have her photo taken. The one out my office window is nice, although there’s lot’s of dust showing up on this one… maybe dust from inside the camera and bellows that settled onto the film. It wasn’t as bad on other frames – but for this one, I left that frame sitting in the camara for a few days, then I took that one and then the rest – much more quickly.
Fun experiment. Next I’m going to try some folding cameras from the early part of the 20th century. I have a couple from around 1910 or 1920. I’m anxious to see how they work!