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Recesky DIY TLR Camera

Mar 30, 2012 • 10 comments • 3096 views
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The camera above is a 35mm DIY TLR camera I got a while back and only just recently put together. You buy it as a kit and put it together yourself. I have to admit that even though it was a bit fiddly to put together, I had a lot of fun doing it, kinda brought me back to the days when I used to build things with Lego. I highly recommend giving it a go yourself. 
Now there were a few problems during the build in terms of the kit itself, I actually had to buy another kit in the end to make up for defective parts and mistakes made by me when I tried building the first kit. I got both of mine for $20 each (YES, only $20) from Photojojo.com, who had nothing to do with the problems. It's just that there must be multiple versions of this kit floating around. My second kit was different then the first, the instruction manual was better and all the parts worked as they should. The first kit had a completely clear screen board, which  should of been frosted/translucent to help you focus and view your image. And when I tried to use the fixer ring for the viewfinder lens, well it didn't live up to it's name, it didn't fix or secure the lens in any way. Which resulted in me having the stupid idea of using superglue to keep it in there. BAD IDEA !! If anyone has watched cop shows on TV, then they know that superglue vapors tend to stick onto surfaces, especially GLASS. So it turned my lens into a foggy mess which I couldn't clean. But the kits are cheap enough that I just ordered a second and rebuilt it from scratch. It was a great feeling when I finished the kit and took it out for a spin, completely different experience compared to standard 35mm cameras or DSLR's. It has no aperture control except for a reaming/twist disc, which I think is just just like an aperture disc used in my Lensbaby Original, you can choose to remove it to shoot in lower light conditions. I think the shutter speed must be around 1/125, and you focus by twisting the bottom lens until the image is sharp on the screen board. Since there is no shutter or aperture control,  film speed is key when it comes to getting correctly exposed shots. My first test shots were taken with Fuji ISO400 film and all in all it did pretty well in the shade or in partly cloudly situations but when I was in bright open sunlight, the shots came out overexposed. It didn't come with a strap so I ripped one off of an old cheap 35mm camera and just used duct tape to bind them, gotta love the duct tape.
Here is a link to Photojojo to get one of your own : http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/diy-tlr-camera-kit/
Shots of the camera were taken with : Nikon D7000 & Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
All Rights Reserved © Mike Dunckley_2012
To view more of my work go to my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdunckley/

Also appears in:

All Things Analogue

• depth of field •

Great journal on this, Mike. DIY TLRs FTW!
03.30.12 •
Thanks DChristopher !! It was a lot of fun, makes me want to find other DIY kits to make. Either that or go find an ancient used full-on TLR to play with.
03.30.12 •
Very cool document. The results are surprisingly rich in texture and depth with a very nice vintage atmosphere. I like the mirror concept of photographing the photographs and the camera that took the photographs of another camera. Impeccable Digital image in frame 1 ; lovely pure white backdrop. Thanks for the links Mike
03.30.12 •
Thanks Eric ! The final shots that I scanned into the computer had to have a few contrast adjustments, mainly due to my old scanner, and I sharped them a bit. You definitely need a steady hand to get a clear shot, plus the camera is so small and lightweight that any movement on your part shows up in the photo. I started a new roll tonight and attached my Steadepod to help me keep it still while I was triggering the shutter. It was a good first test roll which taught me what to do and what not to do. The only problem I have to solve now is what is causing a bright orange band of light to appear on some of the prints, I'm thinking it might be a light leak but I just don't know where from.
03.31.12 •
I'm not sure if this is the right place for this and I apologise in advance if it's not, but I could really use some help.... Just built mine and when I look through the view finder I can see all the edges of the mirror and in the center of that is a circular image of what I'm looking at. It's like the lens isn't magnifying the image enough or something. I havn't had a chance to shoot with it yet so I don't know if the actual photos have the same affect but I'm apprehensive to shoot because I can't see the image well enough to focus, it's just too tiny!
05.31.12 •
This is definitely the right place Rebecca...The same thing happened when I built my first one, is your screen board completely clear ?? If it is then that is your problem, it's supposed to be frosted. There are a couple of ways that you can solve it, one way is to use some simple scotch tape, the kind that has that frosted look. You can put some of that on the screen you have now and it should do a good enough job. Another way is to see if you can find another sheet of frosted plastic, such as in Home Depot or in an office supply store (folders), anything made of frosted plastic that you can cut to size would work. Now in terms of your worries about the image, the image you're seeing in the viewfinder is from the lens on the top which only shows you an estimate of what you'll get on the film and to allow you to focus, it's the main lens on the bottom that actually has the shutter and exposes the film to light, so your pictures would be fine if you didn't end up fixing the screen board. Hope that all helps....have fun shooting !
05.31.12 •
oh my goodness... that worked! it worked perfectly! Thank you so much, I really appreciate the accurate advice. I can't wait to develop my first roll. :)
05.31.12 •
You are very welcome...Have a good weekend !
05.31.12 •
This is AWESOME!
09.08.12 •
Thanks Piper !!
09.09.12 •
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