This year’s coronavirus first made headlines in mid-January, when the respiratory disease broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Since then, it has created a health emergency across China and further into Asia, killing more than 1,300 people and infecting tens of thousands more. It’s also affected tourism across the region, postponed the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations and postponed or cancelled everything from the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament to a huge mobile phone convention.
The virus also seems to have affected the Reflex project, the new 35mm film camera funded on Kickstarter in 2017.
In a Kickstarter update published on 6 February, the Reflex team said travel restrictions and other curbs on movement had affected the team’s ability to work on the project.
“As most know by now, we work on preproduction prototyping and DFM in Shenzhen (China) and a few weeks ago we had made the decision to continue to work during the Chinese New Year. This would allow us to test and fine-tune some of the mechatronics on the model II camera.
“While we had been told that all of the factories and component suppliers would take a break during the New Year (Jan 24-31), we could not foresee the events that followed.
“Due to the virus outbreak in Wuhan, everything has now been shut down by the government, including the access to our lab. The measures to extend the holidays until Feb 02 where taken to stop the virus from spreading. However, this has now been extended until Feb 10th, and yesterday the UK government announced all its citizens to return ( https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china ) Today we received a letter that the electronics market will now remain closed until Feb 18.”
The update comes off the bank of recent delays to the prototype design due to some members of the engineering team leaving the project. That followed an earlier decision to design the camera’s shutter in house rather than to use an existing design.
The update continued: “With Hong Kong borders all closed but one and flight prices hiking up, we have decided to return to London until further notice and continue to work on what we have.”
The Reflex Kickstarter raised more than £134,000 for the camera, which promised a odular design which would eventually include different lens mounts and removable backs, as well as other features such as an integral flash.
The update showed pictures of the new, as-yet-unfinished prototype, and stressed the team hoped the camera would be completed in time for the Photokina trade show in Cologne in May.
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Some poetic justice that a mobile phone convention was also affected