Podcast: D.I.Y. Camera Makers


On this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome four “makers” who have designed and built impressive imaging tools with their own vision and hands. Their locations, the formats, the materials, and the final products all differ wildly, but the D.I.Y. spirit of the engineer, the tinkerer, the photographer, and the entrepreneur are shared by our four guests. We get a sense of how each came to their product, developed it, and are trying to market it.

First, we speak with Sam Cornwell, inventor of The Solarcan, a unique camera designed to produce “extreme time exposures” that capture the sun’s path across the sky; and yes, it is a can. Cornwell offers his love of photography, astronomy, and repurposing household objects as the seeds for this pinhole camera, which comes with its own piece of Ilford 5 x 7" photo paper already inside. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a lot of work, his fully packaged invention is available for purchase from B&H.

Next, we are joined by Steve Lloyd of Chroma Cameras, who liked large format field cameras so much he went and designed one of his own. His are the first field cameras made of laser-cut acrylic. Appropriately available in a choice of unconventional colors, Chroma cameras feature interchangeable film backs that attach to the camera using magnets, which make it possible to switch quickly between 4 x 5" film to roll-film backs.

After a short break, Filippo Nishino, of the Swiss company I’m Back, discusses the invention created by his partner, Samuel Mello Medieros, which can capture digital images with a 35mm film camera body. Available in a universal model or numerous customized covers, the back attaches physically to your film camera, enabling high-res digital image capture. Many years in development, the I’m Back is available to the public and on sale at B&H.

Our final guest is Ethan Moses, of Cameradactyl, which is his company and his passion. Cameradactyl, along with its “subsidiary,” Butter Grip, makes 3D printed cameras, parts, and accessories, including his incredible CAMERADACTYL 4 x 5 Field Camera and X-Pin 35mm Pinhole Camera Kit. He also sells a wide range of practical and colorful grips and camera accessories, and might make something for your needs, if you ask nicely enough.

Guests: Sam Cornwell, Steve Lloyd, Filippo Nishino, and Ethan Moses

Solarcan with Red Packaging
Solarcan mounted for extended exposure
Solarcan sample image
Chroma Camera
Folded Chroma Camera
Large 4 x 5 Field Chroma Camera
I’m Back universal digital back
I’m Back cover for Canon AE-1/A-1 cameras
I’m Back cover for Leica M1 – M4 cameras
Cameradactyl Blue Field Camera
Cameradactyl ButterMeter
Cameradactyl Butter Grip – Red
Cameradactyl 4 x 5 Hand Camera Family Portrait


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves