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What Happens When You Build Your Own Camera for $35?

Thrift stores aside, this is probably the cheapest way to dip a toe into the world of film photography: a build-your-own camera for $35. What could possibly go wrong?

Seasoned analog shooter Kyle McDougall decided to splash out $35 on the Konstruktor F Camera from Lomography ($39.90 on B&H Photo), a kit that can be assembled in as little as an hour to create a 35mm film camera that, it seems, may or may not work.

Lomography claims that the Konstruktor “produces wonderful sharp and vibrant photos” and while the vibrancy isn’t put to the test given McDougall’s choice of the eminently affordable Fomapan 400 black and white film, you can judge the sharpness quite well from this video, despite the YouTube compression.

Of course, this camera isn’t just about the resulting images; instead, it’s about the joy of building something yourself and getting a unique insight into how a 35mm camera is put together. To me, $35 for the experience of the construction alone seems worth the cost, even if the winder ends up being a little unreliable which according to the experience of other customers, is not necessarily the case.

Have you built one of these cameras? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I've not built one of those, but I did build a pin hole camera from a shoe box.
Cost zero dollars.
Results were about what you'd expect for something without a lens.
Interesting learning experience.
What I would like to build is a closet size Camera Obscura similar to the ones made during the Renaissance.

I made this camera a few years ago (and a Recesky TLR that uses 35mm film). Image quality is hit or miss, but that's part of the fun, I guess. Actually making the cameras was really the highlight. Even if they just end up sitting on the shelf with the rest of the vintage camera collection.