I’ve always wanted to build my own camera. In fact, I bought a 3d printer at the start of 2020 with that intention. While that particular project is ongoing I decided to do something a little easier.
I spotted the Haynes Classic Camera kit in Waterstones while Christmas shopping, and managed to persuade my wife to get it for me as something to keep me busy on Christmas Eve. Although I didn’t get a chance to build it then, I did put it together one evening before the New Year.
Making sure not to lose the tiny screws and springs I managed to assemble the camera in just under an hour. Following the instructions was a dream, except for a couple of occasions where they tell you to do the opposite of what you actually need to do. But that’s just part of the “fun” right? Right?!?
Being a 35mm TLR I assumed the camera was a bit of an oddity, as I had never heard of one before. However, the folks over on the 35mm film photography Facebook page set me right and introduced me to a couple of gems like the Zeiss Ikon Contraflex and Agfa Optima Reflex. So now I need to get one (both) of those. My wallet doesn’t thank them for that.
Anyway, getting back to Haynes Classic Camera. Compared with a 120 TLR it is absolutely tiny, which does make it a bit of challenge to handle if you go out in the middle of winter and have to wear gloves like me. But I soldiered on and smashed through a roll of expired Delta 100 24exp (according to the instructions it only takes 24exp film) in a quick street photography session.
Can you spot my first mistake? The camera has a fixed shutter speed of 1/125 and aperture of f11, and there was me shooting in cloudy snowy conditions with low speed expired film. What a numpty. After I got home and developed the film I was greeted with some extremely thin negatives (go figure). But, there was also a bit of a surprise in store for me.
Now, if you’ve already looked at the images you can probably guess that this little plastic fantastic camera leaked light up the wazoo. Every single frame had the most epic (read: soul destroying) splash of light streaked across it. At first I was upset, I spent all this time putting together the rattly little tub and this was how it rewarded me?
But then I reminded myself that this is a TOY CAMERA. It’s not meant for technically perfect photos. Hell, it’s barely able to take photos (or is that just me?). Part of the charm of it is the unpredictability, and looking back on the photos a couple of weeks later they certainly do have a “Lomography” feel to them.
All in all. Was it fun? Yes. Will I use it again? Yes (once I fix the light leaks). If anything it has taught me not to take my photography too seriously and just enjoy it for what it is. I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did you can see a bit more of my experience in this video I made for YouTube.
Thanks for Reading, If you likes what you read please check out my Youtube Channel to follow more of my exploits!