I really do envy all of you for your marvelous large format constructions... I have neither the tools nor the skill for stuff like that. Only an assortment of scrap lying around and 15m of duct tape, so I built this:
This is the very basic version without bells and whistles:
It's basically a very simple retrofocus wideangle lens with an experimental film holder attached. The lens consists of an ancient brass barrel lens (probably from a laterna magica) and a much smaller two-element lens from another objective in front.
I just randomly combined some lenses that seemed promising and was really surprised that this one worked so well. The angle of view for 35mm film is about the same as a 28mm lens, only with lots of barrel distortion. The focal plane for infinity is exactly at the end of the brass barrel (wow, really lucky!) and wide open it's at about f/1,6. Yep, I built a lovely 28mm/1,6 from scratch without calculating or even buying anything at all.
Take that, Zeiss!
The film holder is (obviously) inspired by medium format SLRs to make it more compact. The film plane, otherwise known as "piece of wood" was later covered with metal sheet from a film canister to reduce scratches on the film. The picture is as big as the barrel (almost 50 mm diameter) and circular right over the perforation, because I didn't build a film mask.
The shutter in front of the lens is a flea-market find: a very small and primitive one with only one speed of around 1/30 sec plus B and T modes and a tiny 5mm aperture. Sadly, this limits the lens to 5,6-16, but with slow film it's enough for most situations.
Because of it's unusual form, the camera is held in the palm of the right hand with the thumb at the shutter release. No focus or viewfinder, so it's hyperfocal and shooting out of the hip all the time. Kinda Lomo...
There's one obvious advantage: It doesn't look like a camera at all to most people, even if I point it right at their faces - every shy street photographer's dream. That one might be the biggest disadvantage as well, especially at airports...
This is the current and probably final version:
Quite ingenious! Changing film is lot of taping work?
Originally Posted by moki
It was with the very first version, but now the top has a hinge (or piece of tape) towards the lens and can be opened without removing a single piece of tape. There is a cut piece of foam underneath the lid to prevent lightleaks and also a U-shaped lip around the back that holds pretty tight. I usually add one piece of transparent tape to make sure, the lid doesn't open accidentally, but that one is easily removed for changing the film.
Originally Posted by werra
I also glued a piece of metal (again, from an old film canister) onto the receiving spool, so I can just slip the film in like in a regular camera and don't need any tools or additional tape. It's a pretty sophisticated, though low-tech, construction now.
Onto the next project: Somewhat more traditional looking, but similar in principle.
This one is built around a compur shutter from a Welta Trio folding camera that disintegrated beyond repair. It had a 3 element 105mm/3,8 lens that became a 35mm/1,3, focused to near infinity (as always, guessing the focal length from the angle of view)... The format is 25x25mm, making the lens a "normal", not wide angle as expected. The lens has 6 elements now, but to be honest, I just kept adding more convex pieces behind the shutter, until the focal length seemed short enough without reducing the image circle too much.
Image quality is on par with a Holga from an especially bad badge, so it's mostly Lomo material, but with two advantages: 1) I can actually select different shutter speeds and apertures and 2) I get about 50 frames from a roll of 36.
Next project: A 35mm panoramic camera with rotating lens, somewhat similiar to the Horizon. Woke up 5am today and couldn't get the idea of a simplified, hand-cranked version out of my head. It already is halfway functional, but still far from finished.
Well, here is my low-tech solution to 6x12 desire. Not pretty, not built entirely from the scratch, but functional enough.
Holga 120WPC body with Linhof-selected Super-Angulon 65/8 attached
WPC is not the best donor, to be honest, with his thin plastic body. Handling requires a bit caution, had the tripod mount broken off once. And there are a lot of internal reflections to get rid of.
But as long as the results go, I'm pleased. Some of them are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/werra/s...7619515880980/
Excellent. I was going to use a Holga for my 6x12 camera but decided to build my own body in the end (link below). Is it fixed at hyperfocal distance?
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Yes, fixed focus at ca 15-20m. Two stops down and it's sharp enough til horizon. Framing is a guess but I'm already used to it. Bubble level on the camera is a good assistance.
Originally Posted by Steve Smith
I was going to make mine fixed focus too then I started playing around with the focus helicals of old lenses and ended up with the Olympus lens as a focusing mount.
Here are some more images of my recently completed 14x17. I just finished the reducing board and I think that is all I have to do.
Looks really beautiful.
And it is very useful to me.
Every time my wife says something about my camera stuff taking up too much space, I'll just show her a copy of "jim-with-the-14x17-#2.jpg".
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Matt, good idea! It does take up a bit of space.