Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. It's DIY time, Konstruktor style. Forget that puny screwdriver included with the kit. Let's break out some power tools and build the world's best 35mm kit SLR camera.
A lot of Lomo love has greeted the release of Lomography Society International’s first do-it-yourself (DIY) 35mm SLR kit camera, Konstruktor . And with good reason. This is a fun and educational project that yields a fully-functional 35mm waist level finder SLR camera. While there are a couple of “rough edges” surrounding the actual building of the kit, these itty-bitty nits don’t detract from the real prize at the end—a great looking, working SLR camera.
Granted, most users will be able to successfully complete the entire Konstruktor kit using only the enclosed “crosshead” Phillips-head screwdriver, but some Lomo users might want to enlist their entire power shop for building this durable little camera. Therefore, in difference to the other Konstruktor reviews, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, this review will utilize the full “power jacket” for taking you from parts tree to photo snapper.
Step 1. The kit. Saw the kit box open.
Step 2. ID all the kit’s parts. Use the enclosed parts list to familiarize yourself with the kit’s parts, as well as gather all of the tools that you will need for assembly. You might also want to segregate some of the small parts into boxes for easy location during the construction process.
Step 3. Build the lens. During the final step of lens assembling, be sure that you align the raised pin of B16 with the infinity mark on B17.
Step 4. Snap the waist level finder together. And, in this case, snap is an assembly term and not a recommendation to break the waist level finder.
Step 5. Assemble the body. Spring B9 was missing from my kit Serial #2013755. You can locate your camera’s serial number inside the film cassette chamber. This spring is not vital for the successful operation of Konstruktor. Just keep an eye on the exposure counter when advancing the film and you’ll be OK. Curiously, another kit that I purchased with an earlier serial number (#2010646) contained spring B9 and worked perfectly. Also, during this step, make sure that gear P9 is inserted before gear P1 is set on top of film spool B4. Got that?
Step 6. Hook the spring. Don’t forget to hook spring B10 onto the shutter release stem P12. This is a very small spring and its attachment can be tricky. A pair of tweezers can help with holding and hooking B10.
Step 7. Final body assembly. When completing the final body assembly, there are three “loose” parts that you must hold with your fingers while slipping the various sub-assemblies together: gear P2, the ground glass (plastic), and the tripod nut. Watch out for these parts shifting place as the four main sub-assemblies are slid together.
Step 8. Missing step. Although it is not specifically cited in the Konstruktor instruction manual, two S3 screws should be added to the screw holes inside the film cassette chamber.
Step 9. Wrong part. The mirror reset/shutter cocking lever is incorrectly labeled as part A5 in the Konstruktor instruction manual. This part is correctly labeled as A3 on the included parts tree. Therefore, replace the A5 label with A3 and you’ll be OK.
Step 10. Finish up. Mount the lens, attach some stickers, leatherette strips, and/or Konstruktor name plate. If you’re looking for a more incognito “street snapper,” you might want to consider leaving many/most of these flashes of color off your final camera.
When you’ve successfully finished your Konstruktor assembly, you will probably have some parts left over. In most DIY kits, this surplus can be a sign of incorrect kit building. In the Konstruktor kit, however, there could be 2 spare S1 screws, 1 S2 spare, 1 spare S3, 1 leftover S4 screw, and 1 extra B10 spring. Due to the small nature of these parts, these leftovers are a welcome inclusion.
Granted, these spares are a nice touch for covering lost or broken parts, but the absence of a lens cap and strap from the Konstruktor kit might be more worrisome omissions to some Lomo users.
Other Lomography cameras like Holga and Diana come with these commonly-expected extras, but the absence from Konstruktor is odd, but not a major disappointment. Operating as a waist-level SLR, the Konstruktor would benefit from a simple strap. Sure, that would’ve been nice, but loop a couple of strands of wire (preferably, barbed wire) through the camera’s eyelets and you’ll have a robust workable strap that won’t budge much.
Likewise, that AWOL lens cap isn’t a big deal, either. Luckily, the Konstruktor 50mm lens element is recessed in the lens barrel making this lens cap omission a non-issue. Plus you get the “bonus” feature of a built-in lens hood. So who can complain?
- Film – 35mm film
- Picture Size – 24-x36-mm
- Focus Range – 0.5m – infinity
- Shutter Speed – 1/80 & Bulb
- Exposure Control – fixed f/10
- Flash – none
- Battery – no batteries required (yeah!)
- Lens – 50mm (~47-degree angle of view)
A Note About the Konstruktor Lens Mount : Konstruktor uses a two-tab bayonet mount with an approximately 31mm diameter opening. This is a very unusual mount, but you might be able to use part B18 as a template for adapting another manufacturer’s lens to the Konstruktor.
While the construction of Konstruktor is very simple, its operation is both creative and professional. The camera’s normal waist-level vantage point enables a wealth of innovative photographic opportunities. Although the shutter release button is partially blocked by the camera’s large film advance knob, using your thumb for tripping the shutter helps to minimize this problem.
Priced at an almost steal, the Konstruktor is one of the best values in 35mm SLR cameras today. Plus this kit can be easily built in less than 1 hour 15 minutes (I spent at least 10 minutes looking for my “lost” B9 spring). Both of these virtues make Konstruktor the perfect camera for introducing beginning Lomographers to the beauty of analogue film photography.
Better still, seasoned Lomo vets can now financially justify keeping one or more Konstruktors handy in the auto, on the bike, and at home. So there’s nothing to stop you from shooting more film.
You can now unplug all of your power tools and put them away. Also, count and make sure that you still have all ten fingers still attached to two hands. If all or most of your body parts check out and you have a working Konstruktor model, then you can consider this project a success.