Aside from the actual taking of pictures, the thing that I love most about photography is that it's so alchemical.
Even when you're shooting digital, you can turn practically anything into a lens with the right attitude (and spacers). No matter what technology has achieved in the 200 years since the invention of photography, the physics of light has never changed. And cameras themselves are little more than fancy boxes to provide the right space between an optical element and an imaging plane.
Here's what I mean…
Find yourself having bought a very vintage oscilloscope lens, oops, front element only? Never meant to be used as a standalone lens? Literally nothing known about its focusing properties because who would try to shoot with just the front element?
Well, it bends light, right? Sure, you can use it!
Tell me that's not magic (the magic of physics, specifically; so it's not magic, or really even alchemy in the strict definition, but that's what it feels like).
So, yeah. I'm interested in building my very own camera, completely from scratch. Why? Because I can. Because I like experiments. I like it when things come together. I like toy camera photography and weird lenses and I especially like Frankensteining together photographic parts which have literally no business being put together.
And… ok, well, because I have recently acquired a digital medium-format back I can, theoretically, adapt any lens to, if I build the right box-spacer. All I need a shutter, a way to trigger the back, and a lens mount. And maybe one of those little rangefinder doohickeys.
So here's some research and inspiration up and down the ladder of complexity.