The Light Slide

fun with photography

Homemade cameras

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!

Ilex Oscillo Panagon 75mm 1.9 (3 inch)
the hack-y ass setup I created through the highly technical approach of "adding a piece, taking a shot, and seeing what happens"
Ilex Oscillo Panagon 75mm 1.9 (3 inch)
a head of garlic, shot with the front element only of the Ilex Oscillo Panagon 75mm 1.9 (3 inch)

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.

Photographer Snaps Nearly A Hundred Photos a Day With Homemade Camera
Miroslav Tichý, was a photographer that constructed his own homemade cameras out of cardboard tubes, tin cans, dress elastic and old camera parts he found. From 1960 to 1985 he used these homemade cameras to snap thousands of images around town often of unsuspecting women. It wasn’t till 1981 that o…
Holga-Cam of the Apocalypse
This is a dissected HOLGA that fires a digital back just like the one I got (click for build details!) And the photos are amazing.
Homemade 35mm Box Camera
Homemade 35mm Box Camera: Ever thought about taking the Pin Hole camera to the next level? Well now you can! Coming some day: The camera works so well I’ve decided to upgrade the shutter so it will be able to shoot in broad daylight.  ----------------------------…
9 Homemade Cameras Worth The DIY Effort
These photographers and their Homemade Cameras are inspiring and have incredible stories.
The HolgaWide
Featuring custom and one-off camera designs and technical aspects of photography.
DIY Holga 120 PAN 6x12 Camera Modding
by u/rendition_ in analog

Don't know why this won't give me a link preview card, but you must check out this list of experiments by Dirk Fletcher:

Dirk Fletcher
Featuring custom and one-off camera designs and technical aspects of photography.
The Zine! –
Zone medium format film camera | Dora Goodman Cameras
The Goodman Zone is a lightweight but sturdy 3D printed medium format film camera designed for photographers seeking the unique experience of full manual control and zone focus in their workflow.
4x5 wide camera, similar to a Sinar Handy or Linhof Technar
Here is a new 4x5 wide camera I finished built from a Cambo standard, lens board and GG back. The camera uses a zone focusing 65mm f/8 Super Angulon in a focusing helical and has a rotating 4x5 Cambo Graflock/Universal back. The camera has two permanently mounted Arca Swiss plates, one on the bottom…
Show us your home made camera... - Page 78
I would like to see some home made cameras. I have plans to make a LF camera and would like to see your designs. I would like to build 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 P&S cameras.