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127 Format — Beacon 3x4 cm Camera

April 5, 2011


As with 120 film format cameras, the 127's aren't just square. There is also 4 x 6 cm and the 3 x 4 cm vertical format. The Beacon and Beacon II, made by Whitehouse Products Inc. from 1947 to 1955, shoots sixteen 3 x 4 cm exposures (1-1/4 x 1-5/8 inches.) By comparison, the image area of a 35mm film exposure is usually 2.4 x 3.6 cm.

127 film backing paper is marked for both 4 x 4 and 4 x6, but not for 3 x 4. That's the reason for the two red viewing windows on the back of the Beacon. As you are advancing the film through the camera, you stop at each number twice, first in the right-hand window and then in the left. Very nifty.

The Beacon and the Beacon II are identical but for one feature. The Beacon only shoots 'B' shutter speed. The Beacon II shoots 'B' and 'I' (for 'Instantaneous', about 1/50 sec.) Except for the two shutter speed options, everything about the camera is fixed. The aperture is f/11, the focal length is 46 mm, and the focus is universal from 5 ft. to infinity. The lens is a simple meniscus, but it gives a surprisingly nice image quality (at least the two I have used.)


For all that it's such a simple camera, the Beacon has one really nice feature — you can't accidently depress the shutter button while the front is closed. This means that if you get in the (very excellent) habit of advancing the film to the next number immediately after each exposure, and then push in the front of the camera, you'll never get an accidental double exposure. Just leave the front slid in until you're ready to shoot again. In = locked / Out = unlocked.


"Driftwood at Cape Perpetua, #2" was shot with 'TLF#1' emulsion, pushed too far for my taste but still, it didn't require anything but 'auto-levels' and dust spotting.

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