My 3d Printed 6x14 Panoramic Camera
The film community has turned out to be quite an amazing one to be part of, one with generous people always ready to lend a helping hand, and this is the case of my 3D printed camera.
One of the social networks that I am part of is Google Plus, which has a decent sized film community. People post their film photos here just like they would anywhere, and like most Google Plus communities, I feel like there is more dialogue, which I enjoy. Recently, a gentleman named John posted a photo from his 6x14 panoramic camera that he had printed, and I made the offhand comment "Man, I'd love a 3d printed 6x14 camera". When I woke up the next day, he had sent me an email saying he would be happy to print one for me.
His camera was a 6x14 with a 90mm lens, fixed focus at infinity, this camera is the same he offered to print for me. This camera would have been wonderful, as I have a 90mm lens that I could use, but I really wanted something wide, extremely wide. Through our emails I told him I had a 58mm lens that I'd love to use, however, as he was doing me a huge favor, I was not wedded to this option.
After some consideration, he said he would be happy to flex his creative muscles and work on the camera for my 58mm, which put me through the roof. I have used a G617 which has a 105mm, which is a fine focal length, but I really wanted something much wider. We had quite a few back and forth emails as the camera build came along, each one making me more giddy, but of course worried that something might go wrong.
When the time finally came, I got an email from John with my tracking number, my camera was on the way! The direct path from Washington State to Maryland has quite a few detours when USPS is your pilot, putting my camera in Florida and then New Jersey, finally making it to my hands three or four days late. I attached my lens, as soon as I had it out of the box and was ready to shoot!
I have rambled on enough about how I got the camera, time for some actual camera details. This camera is the lightest camera I own, as it is printed with a honeycomb pattern, weighing, with lens, just over a pound.
The focus is set at infinity, which at F5.6 put everything from 20 feet onward in focus. At F32, three feet onto infinity are in focus. The bottom has a built in Arca Swiss plate so I don't have to constantly switch plates, which is nice.
John wanted to be sure the film was as flat as can be, he designed the camera so that the film was behind the film plane instead of in front. The film in the camera is dead flat from what I can tell, however, it causes the camera to have a little extra bulk. This works out well, making the camera feel more balanced in the hand. The back-end area where the rolls are creates a nice area to grip as well.
The front of the camera is held on with 5 brass nuts on screws. It does hold on tightly but also takes a some effort to remove the front and replace the roll. The rolls are held in place with screws from the bottom. It has taken some getting used to, changing rolls, because in my modern cameras it is much more smooth. This has been the only thing that is giving me some issue, which is not the fault of the camera or design, but mine.
I get four frames per 120 roll, which are actually a bit over 6x14 when I edit them in lightroom. To advance the film, John put a red window on the back, which a reminder of which frame numbers on the paper backing paper to stop on; 2, 5, 8, and 11. Film is advanced with a wind knob, which is tight and works well.
I have taken quite a few rolls of film with this camera, slide, c41, and black and white, and I am nothing short of impressed with it, both in use and in its design. I'm beyond pleased that John offered to print it out for me and even more so that he agreed to operate around my 58mm. Now I might have to pester him to print one for a 47mm if I can scrounge one up. (Don't worry John, I'm kidding.)
As a side note, John also printed one of these cameras for Japan Camera Hunter, who I have dealt with for a few camera purchases (you should consider him if you're in the market for a camera) and with only 4 of these cameras out in the world, it is one of the most unique things I own. Enough of me prattling on, I'll post some images from this camera. Mine even has my name on it!