Home Made Camera: Night 1

Posted 2009.10.05 23.11 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Today after work, I was thinking about a project. At first I was going to take over the world, but then I figured I could do that next week. This week, I decided to make a camera.

Rather than mess around with silly things like plans or knowledge, I decided to just have at it. I had some requirements in mind, for what I wanted, what it would have to do:

  • It would use medium-format 120 film.
  • The format would be 6×6.
  • It would initially be a pinhole camera, but…
  • It would have to be adaptable to accept a lens and shutter later.
  • It would be made of wood, brass, that sort of thing. No plastic, if I can help it.

So, I got out some hobby wood, a ruler and pencil and started measuring and marking. As I wasn’t using a plan, I determined the best way to proceed would be to build the 6×6 exposure box bit first, then the framework to hold the film spools, and so on. In other words, starting with the middle and working my way out. I’d tackle the harder bits when I got to them, such as the film advance mechanism and the shutter assembly.

To permit the camera to switch between a pinhole setup and a lens/shutter system, I figured to mount a pair of brass bolts on the front of the camera body, then I could make my pinhole setup and a lens board etc. as modular attachments that mount to the bolts. Brass wingnuts would hold the lens / pinhole modules in place.

So after the first night of work, the camera body is almost completed. Remaining assembly steps on the body are fitting the top piece, and building the film transport knobs, then finally sanding it all down. The interior will be painted matte black and the exterior will be finished with tung oil.

I also have to make a back for the camera, but that’s pretty straightforward – the only tricky bit is I need to decide how the back will be secured in place. I have some ideas in mind already though.

After the body is finished, I will build the pinhole module with a rudimentary shutter. Then later I’ll have a go at making a lens module with a ‘real’ shutter, i.e. 1/100th or so.