What started as a father and son hobby of building projects together led to this fully-functional 3D printed medium format camera. In this interview, builder Santiago Perez of Taller de Impresión 3D talks us through the process of creating this 3D printed camera with the help of the open-source schematics designed by Dora Goodman - another camera builder we've featured in the magazine before. Read on and learn more about this camera project and see how the Lomography Experimental Lens Kit fit in the equation.
What is your project about? How did it start? What is your background?
"Taller de Impresión 3D" began as a father-son family hobby. We have always been very curious about technology and as a result, we decided to buy our first FDM 3D printer, a Creality Ender 3 Pro. At first, we printed curious figures for ourselves or our friends, but we soon realized just how many applications this technology could offer in both the leisure and research fields.
Currently, I work as a pre-doctoral researcher at the University of Salamanca. While I was working on my Ph.D. thesis, I thought that this technology had a huge future within archaeology and its dissemination to the public and we started this project, which basically consists of the dissemination of our knowledge and experience through Twitter (@Workshop3D) and Facebook (@WorkshopImpresion3D). Currently, in our free time, we print exact replicas of heritage assets with the aim of disseminating them on the web. We also use them to carry out dissemination projects or to support research projects.
We organize research seminars on the application of new technologies in the field of Archaeology and Latin Epigraphy. We participate in doctoral courses on the same subject and we are currently carrying out a scientific dissemination project entitled "Human evolution in your hands: inclusive dissemination with tiflological replicas printed in 3D", endorsed by the Scientific Culture Unit of the University of Salamanca and in collaboration with ONCE (Spanish National Organization for the Blind). In this project, together with Sonia Díaz Navarro, a physical anthropologist from the University of Valladolid, we will take replica skulls of the main specimens of human evolution to different workshops for blind people.
What made you want to build your own camera?
Join the curiosity for new technologies, my father's passion for photography, and light transmitted to the rest of the family and it was inevitable. Since I was a child, I have lived among the smell of photographic development liquids; among photographic cameras of all times; analogue, Polaroid, and digital; the Kodak Brownie, the vest pocket, Fed, Click or Flex, Stewart Warner, Minolta, Yashica, Olympus... (a good collection of analogue and digital cameras in their showcases, but all in perfect working order and with their reels mounted and ready).
For some time now, he had been researching the construction of a camera with his own hands: made of wood and in a handcrafted style, medium format, or large format. The perfect opportunity arose with the 3D FDM printing and the opensource models by Dora Goodman and Luis Álvarez de Toledo, if you want as a general rehearsal for that other more ambitious construction in wood.
How did you learn to make a camera? What inspired you to do it?
The passion for photography, the curiosity - almost necessary - of knowing how a camera works. How light is capable of impressing support to shape reality in its origins, and its evolution to art. The previous experience of my father, who has always investigated on his own and dismantled and mounted a great number of his cameras to keep them in good working order was also an inspiration.
The assembly of the cameras designed by Dora Goodman and Luis Alvarez de Toledo is really simple. And since there is a great community behind it; you can find information in the online forums and they provide assembly manuals. However, the best way to learn is by trial and error, so we try to apply our own knowledge first and if we get "stuck", then we turn to the guides and tips.
Talk us through the creation process. What was the most challenging part of the build?
Without a doubt, and once you have the STL models, understand once you have all the parts printed, the operation of the cameras; their concept.
The greatest merit of the creation process is not ours but that of the designers of the cameras, Dora Goodman and Luis Alvarez de Toledo. I can not even imagine the hours of design, trial, and error they have thrown at it until a product like they offer, also open source.
The simple fact of designing a piece, the lens adapter for the micro 4/3 Lomography lens, the only original design of its own, took us days until we achieved its optimum fit.
Did you use the camera to take photos? Please share them with our readers.
Not yet. The unfortunate pandemic situation we are in has prevented us from doing so. It is the next challenge to adjust the tightness of the cameras to the light and their operation.
Why did you choose the Lomography Experimental Lens Kit? How did it compliment your build/shooting style?
The great difficulty of a handmade camera is in the diaphragm and shutter if you want to dispense with the pinhole. Just as any lens has its corresponding diaphragm incorporated, the current trend of bumper shutters, incorporated into the body of the machine itself, makes it difficult to choose a suitable lens.
The need for an affordable central shutter lens for testing the machines, and its non-existence in the current market, made us opt for the Lomography Experimental Lens Kit as our first test option, although we would have liked to have been able to acquire a Petzval lens, whose quality is undoubtedly much higher.
Are there any new cameras in the pipeline?
Of course, a large format monorail camera built by hand in wood in the old style. As I have already indicated photography, the impression of light, and the creation of the image is one of our passions, but also the creation of the necessary support to obtain it. To understand how the pioneers of this technique felt, which has become an art; how and why light is capable of shaping an image, with something apparently as simple as a wooden box.
Any current projects that you would like to share?
We are currently collaborating with the movement of coronavirusmakers, which due to its purpose and good organization I must highlight above all. With our three printers, we are producing a large number of protective masks and masks for our acquaintances and for everyone who, in view of the pandemic and the danger of contagion as they continue to work, needs additional protection. Specifically, we are manufacturing, together with many manufacturers from all over Spain (and all over the world) a kind of mask to which we add a transparent acetate plastic (the one we use in common bindings) that protects from splashes, as a screen, the whole face of the person wearing it.
Apart from that, a personal project that we will continue when the situation calms down. Print at 1:1 scale exact replicas of Latin inscriptions (a theme I work with in my doctoral thesis). We obtain the models by digital photogrammetry and later, in the post-processing, we will experiment with different textures that resemble the original stone.
And naturally, photography.
We would like to thank Santiago for letting us feature their work on the Magazine.