Archive for the ‘ Cameras ’ Category

One-Minute Street Photographer’s Camera

A New Design Project

I was recently contacted by photographer Billy Baque from the Bay Area about a design project. He had become somewhat enthralled with the idea of a traditional street photographer’s camera originally based upon early ferrotype cameras. An interesting site for The Afghan Camera Project includes further details on the particular Afghan version of this camera. This is a street photographer’s portrait camera with in-camera processing that can produce a finished image for the customer in a span of as few as 5 minutes.

The camera is a large box with a sliding internal focussing mechanism designed to go from portrait distance to 1:1 copy distance. Internal processing tanks, paper storage and a darksleeve for access to the interior of the camera enable a portrait shot to be processed within the camera and washed outside of the camera.Once the paper negative is rinsed, it is fitted to a copy stand mounted to the front of the camera while the focussing mechanism is moved back to copy position. A photographic copy of the paper negative run through the same procedure then results in a positive print ready to deliver to the customer.

Photographer Chris Wroblewski produced a nice looking book entitled “Smudgers” about some of the photographers still practicing this kind of street photography around the world

Chris Wroblewski’s book on “Smudgers”

Before contacting me, Billy had done extensive research into the cameras. You can see his blog entries here:

The Cuban Polaroid
Building a “Minute” street camera
Accoutrements for a “One Minute” camera

I’ll post updates on this project as it proceeds.

P.90 Anniversary Sale

Just about 4 years ago a modest sketchbook idea took life in a form that eventually would become the P.90 lensless camera. Conceived as an easy-to-use camera with an elegant, modern appearance, the P.90 is a medium format, lensless camera with a long-standing pedigree dating back to the original Pinoramic 120 camera from 1991. That original sketch proposed a canvas for the arrangement of a simple, anodized aluminum shutter placed in the middle of a subtly curved field of beautiful wood grain. Like all the Pinoramic cameras, the P.90 design is a curved film plane camera designed to capture a wide field of view on the expansive medium format.

Unlike so many offerings in this general category, the P.90 is an uncompromising camera utilizing original design concepts executed at the highest level. Bent wood laminations used for the front and back of the camera incorporate cross-banded construction that makes the camera both lighter and stronger than typical brick-style cameras. This technique was used in constructing the famous Mosquito bombers of WW2.

Carefully chosen rift-sawn solid timber is used for the top and bottom of the camera. Considered to be simply a necessity by historical camera makers, rift-sawn material is more dimensionally stable and reliable in service than the typical, less expensive, plain sawn material. The combination of bespoke, cross-banded lamination and rift-sawn material is unique to the P.90 and Pinoramic 120 series cameras and gives them their unique appearance.

The P.90’s hardware is designed and made specifically for this application. Each brass component is given the same level of consideration as the custom woodwork. Both form and function are carefully designed to bring beauty and functionality into harmony in the final result. Very few contemporary builders of wooden cameras give this same level of attention to hardware that  they do to the woodwork.

This level of attention to detail makes a P.90 is an investment you will be proud of and enjoy for a long time to come. And with the no-questions-asked return policy, there is no risk in making your purchase.

P.90 cameras are a limited edition and production is nearing the end of the run with the remaining stock dwindling quickly. The last chance to own a P.90 is near. With the week-long anniversary celebration there will never be a better time to buy a P.90. Orders placed between June 9 and June 15 will receive 10% off of the standard price of $975.00.

Purchases can be made either at the website store or the Facebook P.90 page.

As encouragement to try out Dwolla’s new cash payments system, purchases made using their service will receive an additional $20.00 off of the standard price. Dwolla is a new cash payment system that takes the credit card middleman out of the equation. There are online and mobile apps available. Check out the Dwolla site and contact me if you might want to take advantage of this additional discount.

Pinnin’ it

Before the spiffy new paint job - Pinoramic 120 Series 2 pinhole photo

This place is where my studio resides. We call it “The Hole” – it’s down in Sullivan’s Gulch, across the railroad tracks, next to the freeway, within site of the Max light rail line. By all accounts it was tough place to work at in the day – it was originally a furniture factory. A community of woodworkers of all stripes resides on the second floor.

But more to the point . . . I set up my first Pinterest board today. It is the first run at a collection of cool handmade cameras I know of. Do let me know what you may have discovered. You may also notice the new Pin it button at the bottom of the posts – in case you are pinnin things as well.

The best places

What a place to work - a Pinoramic 120 photograph of the train outside my shop window.

The Guardian newspaper recently proclaimed Portland #1 on its list of the five best places in the world to live. The others were –

St Pauli, Hamburg

Northern coast, Maui, Hawaii

Cihangir, Istanbul

Santa Cruz, Tenerife

It’s an unusual list. Many of the usual suspects don’t make the cut. But the reasons given for the choice – “There are planning restrictions on crappy developments. Portland has the highest number of microbreweries in the world.” among others are familiar to Portlanders. I just like the sense of Portland being a place that’s full of surprises but still gritty in an urban sort of way. To look out my shop window and behold the Banfield expressway, the MAX light rail and this railroad all within 50 feet of my window – that’s my urban fix.


Pinhole photographs in Portland

Eastside view from the Broadway bridge

Just read the Guardian’s post proclaiming Portland the number 1 place in the world to live . . . Woohoo!

As a photographer, one of my favorite areas in Portland is around the Broadway bridge. There is a great collection of industrial, rail, residential and commercial activity in that area. I should spend more time there with a camera!


The last Pinoramic 120 cameras

The Pinoramic 120 Series 2 cameras were originally offered in 2006. I’m working on assembling the last remaining cameras from the original run of Pinoramic 120 Series 2 cameras.

One of the procedures involves installing a black phenolic inlay at the shutter opening on the front of the camera. This process is described in this photo essay:

After and Before


A simple vacuum chuck for the lathe


Installed in the collet chuck


The camera body in place


Insert clamped in place


Rough trim


Trimming to camera face


The finished product


Truck: with flowers – a P.90 pinhole photograph

Flowers in bed

– from the Cars in the Park series . . . Portland, Oregon

A new camera design

Designing a new 120 degree lensless camera

The last batch of P.90 camera is underway so it’s time to move on to some new ideas. First out of the hat is a replacement for the Pinoramic 120 series. As much as liked the PPC2 design, it was just too difficult to build cost-effectively. So for the new camera I’m bring together some ideas from both the PPC2 and the P.90.

Prototype #1

For the first prototype I am using the physical layout of the P.90. The first one, illustrated above, simply uses the hardware kit for the P.90. But the goal for the second prototype is to incorporate the film loading design from the PPC2. I’m also looking to make the camera available with either the P.90 style shutter or the pneumatic shutter used on the Pinoramic series cameras.

Kitted up with P.90 hardware

The wider field of view of this camera means there will also be some work on a revised shutter design. My first prototypes generally run afoul of some critical issue leading to a quick follow up with a second version and this case is no different. Once the second proto is together, I will begin testing and refinement of the design. I hope to make the camera available in the next few months.

While testing is underway I’ll be focussing on another new design – this time for a flat film plane camera. More on that later . . .

Analog photo notes

This amusing and informative film from the Netherlands circa 1958 is subtitled in English and describes how Kodak film was manufactured then. Kodak has apparently substantially improved the process since then.

Pixiq – John Neel stream tests the P.90

I recently sent a P.90 off to John Neel to take out for a spin. He did a nice write up (with no input from me!)
And he made some great hand colored images from the shots he took.

He describes those images:

The images in the gallery were shot on Portra 400 using a 1-3 second exposure in bright daylight or open shade. After scanning the film into the computer, the images were processed through NIK Color Efex Pro and/or NIK Silver Efex Pro for contrast and edge enhancement. Color blending using layer blends was used to enhance the colors of the Teepee. The image of the stream was hand colored in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet. All images copyright  – © John Neel.

John is doing some great writing for the Pixiq site. You can check out some of his other work.

John Neel | Pixiq

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