Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Evolution of a Polapinhole, Part 1

Last summer a few of you may remember I built a Polaroid pinhole camera from a broken ProPack with a silly short focal length. I've been wanting to build a legitimate pinhole with a wider angle, and finally got around to it. Should be studying, so that's probably the only reason I decided to work on the project. That, and these killer shots by Beck that she took with some Polaroid pinholes a friend built for her. Sweet stuff. Really short focal length with a fairly large pinhole, I think. Mine isn't as fancy or well built as that one, but it will work. Initially, I'm going for getting the focal length I want, so looks aren't that important. Once I'm done, I may spruce it up a bit and build a proper swing shutter or something. Paint it black, whatever.
Okay, so I started with my ProPack back, which I had previously carved down to the bare bones.

I use only the highest quality materials when I build stuff. For this project I used a FedEx box. I know, you say, How can I afford such expensive materials? I do my best. So I cut out the sides and top for my pinhole body from the cardboard, marked out the center and cut a hole for my pinhole to sit on. I'd say I spent maybe an hour total building the camera.

Taped it all together with blue tape and then sealed the edges to prevent leaks. I used a real pinhole plate that came with a "build it yourself" 35mm pinhole camera.

You can see the focal length compared to the original. I think the lens sits at around 110mm. Mine was around 60-65mm. I figured it was better to start longer and I could reduce it if i didn't think the angle was wide enough.

Here is the "final" test model. I taped it all up. Ugly, but effective, I hope.

Time to take it out back and try it before I buy it. I used Fuji FP-100B. The first was exposed at 10 seconds.

Washed out. Second exposed for five seconds.

Hmmm...looks like a leak to me. I guess I should have checked that before I took it out. Using a flashlight in a dark room, I did find a spot where the blue tape wasn't covered, so there was a faint light shining through it. Retaped it and outside again, exposed for three seconds this time in full sun.

Zoinks! An image! And perfectly exposed. How exciting! I took one more test shot.

Definitely not wide enough. I was fairly close, maybe two feet from the camera and I'm not even in the picture. Back inside to make some adjustments. I decided to knock off about 15mm, making it closer to 45-50mm.

And back outside. Still at three seconds, since that seems to be the sweet time. I know from previous experience that making the focal length shorter usually requires shorter exposure times, as it tends to burn a hole in the middle if you expose for too long. But, whatever. Three seconds it is.

Zoinks again! Much nicer. I was the same distance away and I'm in the frame this time. A few more test shots. Something besides boring me. How about a boring fence? A bit shadier, so exposed for around six seconds.

Works well, I think. It doesn't particularly look wide angle, as the edge distortion isn't very strong, but when I aimed through the viewfinder, all I saw was fence with no surround environment. Three times as much shows up in the photo frame. Okay, one last shot in the shade of my patio, exposed at 10 seconds, I think. I held the camera about three inches from my nose.

Hmmm...enough for today. I may cut it down by another 5mm or so. I'll have to take it out and shoot something besides me and the boring area surrounding me. Looks good so far though. Look for part 2 sometime in the near future. I really need to do some school type junk...blah.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Still here...

Been busy finishing up the semester, and being generally lazy. I'll be posting some new stuff pretty soon. Building a pinhole Polaroid, hopefully with a wide angle. Also working on a mystery Holga build project...if I could get all the stuff I need in the mail. Still going to talk about the Banner/Diana thing, too.
A few shots from the Arizona State Fair on Halloween of this year, with a Banner, using I think Fortepan 100. Pretty sure that's the last time I've shot anything.

I'll also be reviewing a new Japanese toy camera called Tolne, which roughly translates to a slangy "Can I take your picture?" If you want to take a funny funny picture, it might be for you. Hopefully in the next three or four weeks or so I'll get that done. Not much else to report. Check out The Rosewood Thieves. Great band.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Meteor from the Past

I know, that doesn't really make any sense, does it? Anyway, World Toy Camera Day was a couple weeks ago, now. One of the cameras I took with me and used for the first time was the Meteor. A crappy camera disguised as something more than what it is, made by Universal Camera Corporation, probably in the 1950s.

It even has a fancy leather case....real leather. I'm not sure who this camera was marketed to, but it probably was an older crowd than it deserves.

Not to say it's a piece of junk or anything. It's actually fairly solid. Mostly metal with some plastic parts. About the size of a Diana, but a couple pounds heavier. It has some 'features'. First, the barrel slides out to make it a tiny bit more compact that it would be otherwise.

It also has a little pin under the shutter release, so you can't fire the shutter by accident while the barrel isn't out. And you see it has a handy meter guide on top of the camera, though I didn't really see any difference in photo quality with different apertures...much the same as other toy cameras. It doesn't affect DOF or anything -- it's just there.

So it does have aperture and focus settings, an Instant/Bulb switch, and a flash hotshoe (though no timing thing for the flash to plug into). Oddly enough, I didn't see a lot of difference in focusing, either. It was all about even if it was in focus. It also has an interesting film loading angle. From the bottom.

Not has difficult as it looks. A little bit awkward, as it's just...different. And, believe it or not, this setup doesn't keep the camera from leaking from somewhere. It's all very snug, but I guess not that snug.
Sometimes designers are just funny. Take the viewfinder.

So we have the viewfinder. Hey, it looks kind of crooked. Let's put another one next to it. What? Costs to much? Then we'll just plug it. So we have another decorative circle to balance it out.
So, how did it shoot? Well, mostly pretty good. The most...disconcerting thing about the camera is how quiet the shutter is. I mean it is so quiet that I wasn't sure if it was even firing through the entire roll. I have the typical 'looking at my face' shot trying to see if I could tell if it was working. You just hear a slight "shk" sound, and that's it. It qould be a great stealth camera if it wasn't so big and obvious. The shutter was a little slow a couple times, but overall was on the money. These are shots from in and around Quartzsite, AZ.

It has some typical toy camera features. Blur and vignette along the edge, lightleaks, somewhat unpredictable. Reminds me of a Holga, mostly. Has the same issue where the viewfinder only shows half of what will show up on film.
What I found very interesting is that it has the same odd "light" square along the inside edges of the frame as the Diana+. Still not sure what this is from...reflection? But I haven't seen it elsewhere. Just odd that it is almost exactly the same. I can't really see inside the Meteor because the back doesn't come off.
So what do I think of it? Well, I don't dislike it, but I'm not all that impressed, either. Maybe if it were a bit smaller, or at least lighter. Funny, I read how people tape coins to Holgas to give them some weight, so they feel more substantial. If I could lead my floating camera along with a string, I'd be happy. And this camera is heavy. It's not all bad or anything, and I like the output to a degree. It's just all kind of...meh. It's like totally middle of the road. Some toy camera effects, some real camera ideals. Nothing bad, but nothing all that interesting, either. Granted, the subjects aren't that great either, but I've used better. There are so many other cameras to use, this one will probably only see daylight once a year. I'd like to run some color film through it. But I'm in no hurry.
Hmmm... sometime soon, I think I might compare the Diana with her retarded stepchild (and I mean that in the least offensive way possible), the Banner, also known as Arrow and a few other names. There are straight Diana clones, and there are copycat clones. The Banner is different enough that I think it is not really a Diana. It's just mostly shaped like one. More on that later. Ja, ne...