Kodak to Reissue the Brownie Camera
Rochester, NY -- The camera that spurred on the amateur photography boom at the turn of the last century, and turned Eastman Kodak into an iconic symbol of prosperity and photographic prowess, is back. Yes, the Kodak Brownie. It assumed various forms after the initial wood and cardboard box camera, but the premise of simplicity and "You take the picture, we do the rest" remained, no matter what form the camera took. From the box brownies to the Pocket Instamatic, the Brownie camera became a symbol of simple, yet adequate snapshot cameras.
"We realized that the Holga and Diana cameras now being sold as film cameras of choice for the hip, young arty photographers are introducing a new generation to shooting film." said Lou Wratten of the Consumer Products division of Kodak. "Despite the popularity of the Holga and Diana cameras, they really are nothing more than cheap Chinese-made pieces of plastic with no more complexity than most Brownie cameras that were made by Kodak. We feel that rather than the Brownie being a symbol of Kodak's past, it should be reintroduced to a new generation that grew up on digital cameras and want something more from photography."
Kodak has not manufactured cameras in the US for nearly 25 years, but given the current economy, a small plant in Rochester, NY will be able to operate at a profit manufacturing the new Brownie camera. Sources within the company indicate that the Brownie will use 120 roll-film, just as the Holga and Diana cameras currently do. The camera will utilize a single meniscus lens for that sweet optical character that was typical of the early Brownie cameras. Unlike the earlier Brownies, the camera will not be made of wood and paper, but will be high-quality injection-molded plastic, and look very much like the box-like Brownie cameras made 100 years ago, except that they will be available in a variety of color schemes that will complement the hip fashions of today. A basic all-black version should be popular with older users wanting to rekindle their love for simpler days with a camera. An advertising blitz will be aimed at younger users and Kodak expects to offer something that the Lomo and Holga people do not have, and that is a processing service. According to Wratten, "We have heard from current Holga and Diana users that are frustrated by the lack of color film processing labs and the lack of support from the Lomographic Society once they have purchased a Diana or Holga. Kodak has the infrastructure and experience to offer a mail-in processing service that will not only develop and print the images made from these simple cameras, but will furnish online scans from the negatives that users can then upload to photo-sharing sites such as the very popular Flickr."
Sources at Kodak indicate that the new Brownie, with a manual, 2 rolls of the new Ektar 100 film, two processing mailers, and a presentation box with a Brownie time-line imprinted on the outside, will retail in time for the holiday season at a price of between $59 and $89. Kodak's page on the Brownie history is here.