I have been filling my kickstarter orders for the last month for the CAMERADACTYL 4×5 Field Camera, which has imprisoned me in my own house, a victim of my own mild success, babysitter to a small print farm. I’ve used that time to do some prototyping on some other cameras that I am working on, some upgrades to the first camera, and some general tinkering… and of course bringing Butter Grip into the world…
My friend Denis, who also suffers from camerabedies, the sickness commonly referred to as GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) was over here the other day and couldn’t help but rummage through my camera graveyard. He picked out an old Yashica Electro 35 GSN whose meter never worked. He told me that he used to use one of them in college and loved it very much. That got me thinking.
I did a bunch of googling, trying to find a circuit diagram for the camera so that I might fix it. I came across a 2010 Flickr post by the user Stefanhh1, about how he added manual shutter speeds to his camera. I tore my camera down and figured out how he did it, made my own, showed it to Denis and some of the people at Quelab, the makerspace (or as I call it, Da Club) here in Albuquerque. They were amused. At that time, the camera had wires hanging out of it, no top cover, and was pretty unusable as it was.
With a little encouragement, I bought a micro ten position rotary switch, trimmed its leads, soldered and shrink wrapped it up, and jammed it inside my camera. It worked, and I thought that I’d do an internet mitzvah and make a youtube instructional. I think half of my technical skills at this point come from youtube and forums. Cameras, Jeeps, Electronics, Programming. The School of Hard Knocks has gotten much less hard these days, thanks to the fine professors of the School of YouTube.
I also had to build a crude shutter tester to calibrate the camera, which I wrote a bit about on EMULSIVE.org. That may turn out to be maybe more widely useful to photographers, rather than just owners of Yashica Electro 35 series cameras.
The video that I made is LONG and dry, I thought of it less as an entertainment than a manual of sorts, hoping that others could follow along with no prior knowledge of cameras or electronics, and be able to mod their cameras. I am excited to see who else will complete the mod, and what they use it to do.
I would really like to mod a Yashica Electro 35 GX or CC/CCN too, which is a camera that I prefer, and is electrically much simpler and more robust, easier to modify, but has less space to fit extra internal wiring inside the case. I am really taken with the idea of The Borg from Star Trek, using small microcontrollers to totally take over the electrical functions of older cameras, giving point and shoots manual controls and lcd readouts and such. So far I have had much less success on that front, but I’ll probably continue tinkering. I can’t help myself, I have a bad case of camerabedies.
You can watch the full video here:
The link to the original Flickr post by Stefanhh1
A link to the local Hackerspace (‘Da Club), Quelab
A link to CAMERADACTYL, my small camera company is: www.cameradactyl.com and instagram.com/cameradactyl
Hope this all is useful, please let me know if you have any questions, or if you make or improve your own mod!