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45 Model 1 camera (Pic: David Hancock)
The 45 Model 1 camera is the cheapest of the cameras offered (Pic: David Hancock)

A series of large format pinhole camera kits – which photographers can assemble at home themselves – have been launched on Kickstarter.

The 5119 Cameras Large-Format Pinhole Cameras Kit is the brainchild of film photographer and YouTuber David Hancock. He has made a series of large format cameras, using a range of film formats.

On the project’s Kickstarter page Hancock says: “In 2018 I set out to design a pinhole camera that almost anyone could use and that could return quality results consistently. This stemmed from a conversation with a friend who had lost a lot of dexterity in his hands and could no longer use the fine controls of his cameras, nor hold them without fear of dropping them.

“I chose sheet film for this project to make the cameras simpler to build, the results better with less effort, and because the formats afforded quality results that could be achieved by anyone.”

Hancock has produced a range of designs, with the cheapest – the 45 Model 1 – available for $185 (£134). This camera takes 4×5 film and has an approximate focal length of 90mm and an aperture of f/225. This model has an angle of view equivalent to 24mm on a 35mm camera.

The 57 Model uses 5×7 film and costs $220 (£159). It comes with an equivalent focal length of 127mm and an aperture of f/254. This translates to around 35mm on a 35mm camera.

The 410 Diptych Model 1 ($285/£206) and the 810 Model 1 ($365/£263) round out the range.

410 Diptych Model 1 (Pic: David Hancock)
410 Diptych Model 1 (Pic: David Hancock)

Hancock says: “I knew that I wanted to create something unique to Kickstarter and, hopefully, unique to the world. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever released a 4X10 camera on Kickstarter. Also, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever made a 4X10 camera that can alternately take two 4X5 film backs and create diptych images.”

(Taken on a 46 Model 1 and Fuji Velvia 100)

He says the new cameras were designed to be easily built at home, easy to use, easy to customise, and a cheap entry level to large format, especially for photographers who have not shot the format before. “The early designs focused on making these easy to build. Numerous early revisions built on these cameras’ concepts and refined the assembly. Using, after testing multiple different options, water-proof wood glue, pre-cut felt liners, and pieces designed to only assemble correctly one way, these cameras provide photographers of any building skill with a tool they can assemble reliably and without great difficulty.

“The designs, when constructed correctly, ensure that even if the bamboo has warping that leads to gaps around the camera, that the obscura space (inside the camera) remains light-proof.”

Black and white image of river and trees (Pic: David Hancock)
(Taken on a 57 Model 1 and Foma 332 Photo Paper)

Hancock said he had managed to achieve a light-tight interior by using felt rather than black paint. He said the felt used is the same he uses to flock film sheet users and is very effective at keeping out light.

The Kickstarter launched on the weekend and runs until 30 August; so far the project has raised around 35% of the $17,500 (£12,600) needed.

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Stephen Dowling
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