One of my current projects is (re)designing a camera for street portrait photography used by photographers in Afghanistan, India, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and many other countries throughout the world. There are a variety of approaches to the design but they all have in common the ability to process a paper negative within the camera. Re-shooting the paper negative on a built-in copy stand with some means of racking focus out to 1:1 enables the production of a positive image. Billy Baque, for whom the design is being worked out, brought to my attention an elegant design in use by a street photographer in Argentina. This camera is typical of a type that arranges for access to the interior of the camera through a back door. The same door is opened for purposes of focussing the camera.
This design typically has a hinged top lid with a viewer for image processing along with a red window to admit light for that purpose. These are masked off by various types of mechanism when a photograph is being made. Also characteristic of this design is a movable standard on slider rails inside the camera controlled by an external knob attached to a third rail that moves the standard from portrait position to copy position. Note also that the camera has two processing tanks. Stop bath is omitted in this case and a water rinse is typically done outside of the camera.Another approach to the design is typified by a German designed camera called the Velophot. This Canadian patent drawing shows some of the distinct features of this design. Three processing tanks indicate the use of standard 3 part chemistry. The external viewer is mounted to the back of the camera where it can be used both for composing and focussing as well as for processing. The red window still appears at the top of the camera. Also notable is the use of a bellows rather than an internal sliding standard. Also notable is the use of a pair of access sleeves. Unlike the more common one sleeve design, the use of a second access sleeve makes working with wet plate techniques a possibility as well. Most of the camera designs include some kind of internal storage compartments for paper stock and finished negatives. It is interesting working on this project at the same time I’m delving into a digital camera slider design. But I have always enjoyed playing at the interface between digital and film.