a flash of colour

Brownie Holiday Flash camera using 127 film.

Toronto. In mid last century amateur photography was quite different than today with ubiquitous smartphone cameras. The small camera phase (mincam) was in full swing. Black and White films ruled – colour was very expensive and even slower than B&W. In fact, the slow speed of fast B&W film meant most amateur photos were taken outdoors.

Colour film and flash bulbs were common to professionals but amateurs still favoured B&W films, usually without flash and its relatively expensive one-use bulbs. The manufactures tried to persuade amateurs to move to smaller cameras, colour film, and flash. An example is this 1955 LIFE magazine ad (page 27) for the so called Brownie Holiday Flash camera – simply  a dressed up pre-war Baby Brownie with a flash gun bolted on the side and shutter synchronization. Like all Baby Brownie’s the diminutive camera used 127 film – a slightly wider “35mm” film without the sprocket holes – and a curved film plane to help correct the lens geometrics (curvature of field) just like the far more expensive Minox camera. While the cameras were small, they were just box cameras with a flash gun feature.

A big thanks to George Dunbar for spotting this marvellous advertisement amongst the pages of the July 4th, 1955 LIFE magazine.


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