A while ago, I picked up the $35 Konstruktor DIY film camera from Lomography. It seemed like a fun project of building your own 35mm film SLR camera. Turns out it was!
The camera comes in a box that opens up to reveal two plates of parts (just like old model car kits) and a number of larger parts, along with a big instruction manual in a ton of different languages.
It’s fairly straight forward to assemble and took less than an hour to put all the parts together. The only issue I had was attaching the super tiny spring which connects the shutter release to the internal workings of the camera.
Here’s Lomo’s timelapse of the assembly…much better shot than what I would have done as I assembled mine on the couch with my cat on my lap.
The Konstruktor features a ground glass viewfinder so you can actually preview through the lens to frame your shots.
There is even a little flip up lens so you can hold it right up to your eye to check framing and focus. It works much better than I was expecting for a mostly plastic camera.
My pal Peter suggested we take it for a spin with some B&W film and then process it ourselves. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile and this seemed like the perfect chance to put the camera through it’s paces and check out Peter’s darkroom lab setup at the same time.
So I loaded up some Ilford Delta 400 film and hoped for the best.
We did a brief photowalk at a park just off the Maryhill Bypass. While shooting, I was concerned about the tension of the film roll in the camera as a few times while I was winding the roll forward, it was a little tight and felt like it went loose at one point. Eventually, the counter was out of whack so I just kept shooting until it felt like I’d reached the end of the 24 shot roll.
Peter then processed the film for me…we both shot the same roll so he did both at the same time.
I was happily surprised to find that the roll had in fact worked in the camera and we had some quality exposures. There was a little bit of weird spacing of the frames towards the end of the roll which was expected as I had felt it slipping but I ended up with 25 exposures so that was great! Towards the middle of the roll, some of the sprockets were a little chewed up…likely from the force I applied to advance the film.
I’ll let this gallery speak for itself as to the outcome of that first roll:
There is some really cool swirly bokeh the plastic lens adds to the photos…I seemed to be a little off in my distance in a few shots (it can focus as close as 0.5m away). My favorite shot is easily this tree that had been chewed on by a beaver (it’s pretty near the Fraser River):
For a $35 SLR camera you assemble yourself, it’s pretty amazing. The only downside it has is that the 50mm lens is locked at f10 so you really can only use it outside. But I was surprised how well it did under the overpass in what was a pretty dark area.
I was considering using this camera for the upcoming 12×12 Photo Marathon but would be too worried about the frame advancing issue to not blow a shot. I’ll use this to have fun with film and not the marathon.