Vintage Kodak Brownie Reflex iPhone Dock

I had this idea for an old camera as a docking station after my wife showed me a dock on Etsy made out of old books.  I told her I could make her one (because I was not paying someone $50 to razor blade some pages out of a book they got at Goodwill), and while brainstorming, decided to try to make one from one of my old cameras.  Total cost for her docking station – $0.30 for 2 old books.  Total for mine – free.

The Process:

I chose the Brownie Reflex for a few reasons. The main reason is because it was a barn find that a friend gave me. When it was given to me, there was also a petrified mouse in the camera box, so the camera was due for a cleaning; if I broke it in the process, I wouldn’t be as heartbroken as some of the others I have collected here and there.  Before cleaning the camera, Mr. Jingles was laid to rest in the back yard, although it appears he went to the cheese slice in the sky decades earlier. I then examined the camera, and dissected it to clean the parts individually. I chose the twin reflex style camera, because i wanted something to support the iPhone from rocking back and forth when inserting or removing it from the dock.  I thought I might be able to reverse the viewfinder on this particular model due to its symmetry, and I was right!

I disassembled the camera and washed all of the pieces individually. I was surprised at how well it shined up except for a few spots on the mirror.

Ready for Cleaning

Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of the interior modifications, mainly because it was trial and error with a lot of back and forth trimming.  The only tools I used were a screwdriver for dis-assembly and a  Dremel tool with various attachments to drill, grind, and cut a channel for the iPhone’s wire to travel.  There was just enough space in front of the viewfinder glass to fit the cable’s connector. I carved out a space for it and Gorilla Glue’d it to the camera.  The metal flange added additional support in holding it in place.  Then the cable was routed to one side, around the mirror to retain normal function of the viewfinder without seeing a white cable in the middle of the view.  A small hole was drilled in the back to allow the cable to pass through.

That paragraph makes it sound like a quick one hour job, but it was spread over a week or so of piddling before i was happy with the result.  If anyone is interested in one, I have thought about making more, so please contact me. Pricing would be around $120 for the time involved and finding a camera if you didn’t have one.

Creating the Product shot for this post:

I wanted to create an antique feel for the “official shot” of my dock vs just a quick snap of it on a bedside table.  So I went over to my parents house to borrow their parlor room and various antiques.  I placed the camera on a tiered table, amid family bibles, eye glasses, and other random trinkets. 

The main light was an Alienbee B800 with a gridded beauty dish on the lowest power. It was set as close as possible to the right side of the table.  With the grid, the light falls off rather sharply, and the left side was basically black due to a lack of ambient light.  I then brought in an Alienbee B1600 in a PCB Octabank, but I left the octa collapsed.  I just “fluffed” it a little to get the desired light output for fill.  The B1600 was on mid power, as the folds in the octabank killed a lot of the output.

Camera settings were f4 at 1/30th to burn in the face of the phone. The app running is called Antique Clock Lite.

Below are more images of different angles and details.

I wanted to keep the camera as “stock” looking as possible.

Here you can see how the cord exits the back. When the film cartridge is removed, the wire can be snapped up into the slot that was drilled.

At one point, I wanted to put a working clock into the face of the flash reflector, but I never found a clock I liked enough to try.

Here is a closeup of the docking area. You can see the brown spots on the mirror from age, but I was careful to ensure you would not see the white cable.

Here you can see how the viewfinder was reversed and how I trimmed the front edges to make room for the phone and to add support.

This is the interior of the camera and the film canister. You can see how the back is notched for the wire.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way it turne……………….

For the record, here is the one I made for my wife.  No creepy dolls attacked me with this one…

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One thought on “Vintage Kodak Brownie Reflex iPhone Dock

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