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Cameradactyl: A 3D-Printed 4×5 Field Camera with Eye-Popping Looks

Cameradactyl is a new 3D-printed 4×5 field camera created by photographer Ethan Moses that stands out: instead of a traditional look, the camera comes in a wide range of custom colors and patterns.

“I have built cameras in the past, but always one-offs, out of wood and metal,” Moses writes. “When I got a new 3D printer, I couldn’t help myself. I started designing and printing prototypes of 4×5 cameras that I could reproduce for friends and fellow photographers.

“I am a lover of classic mahogany, brass and steel field cameras, and my goal was to make an accessible and inexpensive alternative. I have tried to retain as much functionality and durability as possible with entirely plastic components. I think I’ve succeeded in making a fun entry-level camera while maintaining its professional attributes.”

It’s an old-school camera made with new-school technologies; a camera with a friendly look on the outside yet serious features on the “inside.”

Based on a classic field camera design, the Cameradactyl retains many of the professional camera movements long used by field camera photographers.

“It has rack and pinion geared focusing rails for both the front and back standards, front swings, tilts, rise and fall, and rear swings and tilts,” Moses says.

The Cameradactyl doesn’t come with lens or film holders, so you’ll need to use your own. The bellows accommodate lenses ranging from 90mm to 300mm.

“Because a large format camera is basically just a black box, the look and feel of your pictures will be mostly determined by your lens and your film or plate choice (and how you use it),” Moses says.

Since the entire camera body is 3D printed, Moses is able to offer custom looks for each camera. The lens board and film back are black on all cameras, but the body features 10 separate part groups — rear frame, front frame, frame carriers, rear rails, front rails, baseplate, swing arms/spindle carriers/tripod mount, screws and spacers, focusing pinions, ground glass spring frame — that you can have printed in other colors.

“I’m currently printing in eight colors, which when raised to the 10th power (# of print/part groups) allows for 1,073,741,824 possible color combinations, before choosing a bellows covering fabric,” Moses writes.

Moses is launching the Cameradactyl through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, where a contribution of $225 or more will earn you one of the first cameras if/when the project delivers on its promises in October 2018.

The campaign has already exceeded its initial goal of $2,500, and there are less than 10 backer spots still available at the time of this writing.


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