A Medium Format Camera From Scratch

Film photography may now be something so outdated as to be unknown to our younger readers, but as an analogue medium it has enjoyed a steady enthusiast revival. There is still a bonanza of second-hand cameras from the days when it was king to be found, but for some photographers it’s preferable to experiment with their own designs. Among them is Reddit user [elelcoolbeenz], who has produced their own medium format camera for 120 roll film.

The camera has a plastic 3D printed body and a single meniscus lens, and perhaps most interestingly, a 3D printed shutter too. It’s heavily reminiscent of the Holga and Lomo plastic cameras that have carved a niche for themselves, and it gives the same photographic effects from its dubious quality optics.

There’s a snag of course, that the STLs are not yet available We say not yet, because this comes with a detailed explanation in that further work is required on the shutter and a more commonly available lens is found rather than a one-off. We still think it’s worthy of featuring at this stage though, because it serves to illustrate that building a camera is not impossible. We’d love to see more of them, though we expect few of them to go to the lengths this aluminium one did.

12 thoughts on “A Medium Format Camera From Scratch

    1. I don’t think a shoebox with a pinhole counts.

      Don’t get me wrong, a shoebox was my first film camera, but that’s not what people are talking about when they say “built a camera from scratch”

    1. All you need is $$$$ for the sensor… :) Oh, I’m assuming your medium format is like a couple of mine with replaceable backs… Otherwise a bit more challenging.

    1. Hi! Yes, when I was doing research for this project, the only other designs I found for homemade, portable-format momentary shutters were Amos Dudley’s SLO project, the OpenReflex SLR (though the “curtain” itself is not printed on that one) and Miroslav Tichy.

  1. I started with monochrome 120 film in a Brownie in the 60s. Learned to develop film from World Book Encyclopedias. Always took great photos and I think it’s only now being challenged by hi-res sensors.

    I might still be using and processing medium format film, but local sources of film and processing have gone and any sources of processing supplies have also become rare (and expensive to ship).

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