Janus was a two faced Roman god. A fitting name for a camera that exposes film from both sides. And the beauty is: you can easily make a Janus cam yourself!
A while ago I saw this article about the Smena Siam, about two Smena’s that were fused together to make a sort of Siamese Camera. My first reaction was: Wow. I want that! I had gained confidence by hacking my own single use camera, so I decided to give it a try.
Now I don’t have two Smena’s, and even if I had, I wouldn’t saw them up. But I do have a thrift store filled with cheap trash cams just around the corner. I decided to start simple, by adding a pinhole camera to the back of a regular camera.
Step one was a trip to the thrift store to find a cheap and simple camera to sacrifice. I would be the Jack’O, a camera I mainly chose because the original packaging stated it would take a maximum of 24 shots, while the camera itself showed quite clearly (even from within the packaging) a frame counter that went up to 36.
After measuring more or less carefully, I decided where to make a hole in the back of the camera and went at it with a hobby knife. That was not as easy as I had hoped! Tough plastc… After hacking at it for about an hour, risking life and arteries, my guy came home and suggested heating the knife. An excellent suggestion, because fifteen minutes of heating and melting later, I had a nice rectangular hole, and in the right spot, too!
The hole was a bit ragged, but some quick work with a bit of sanding paper removed most of the sticking out bits. I then washed away the dust under a running tap. Not something to try with your premium cameras, but a simple plastic lensed trash cam can easily take a bit of water. Just make sure you let it dry completely or your film will stick.
The next step was constructing the pinhole body. Kind of like a matchbox pinhole camera, but instead of sliding the inner matchbox into the outer box, I stacked the two parts to make a deeper camera body. I had an old bit of beer can with a pihnole lying aroud, but the hole looked rather biggish, and I seem to remeber from some half-forgotten article that a bigger pinhole works better with a bigger body.
Next I placed the pinhole body over the hole in my camera and secured it with black tape. I tried to align the pinhole with the lens as best as I could. Of course I made sure it was taped very securely to prevent light leaks. Jack’O had become Janus.
Now the film is placed in the camera in the regular way. If I want a normal picture, I snap and advance the film. If I want a (redscale) pinhole picture, I take a pinhole picture, cover the lens with the lenscam (and my hand), snap, and advance. If I want a combination, I snap, take a pinhole picture (or the other way around), and advance.
And does it work? Yes it does! The pinhole pictures tend to overrun the regular pictures (I have to work on that, figure out what order or pictures works best), but on the whole, I’m pretty happy.
I challenge you to make one, too! This design lends itself for all kinds of variations. You can add a mask on the inside to make a kind of splitzer pictures: half regular, half redscale, with no overlap. Or you can add the MX-function or B-setting of the hacked disposable camera. Or all those things together. I look forward to seeing your take on this.