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The Focal Camera is an open-source modular camera prototyping system designed by Mathijs van Oosterhoudt that wants to give DIY-minded photographers the tools they need to build a camera from scratch.
“Cameras have gone from something as simple as a sliding box to an electronic maze, impenetrable for anyone who wishes it was different and offering no way of alteration except of rare circumstances,” van Oosterhoudt writes on the Focal Camera’s website.
The modular camera patterns work a bit like legos—meaning that they can be combined in a variety of ways to create unique cameras. Although you will need access to a laser cutter and some type of 3mm plate material to get yourself started. The site currently is offering patterns for cameras with a 6×6 film back, a pinhole, an optical view finder, wireframe viewfinder, waterhouse aperture and plans to add more as they work out design kinks.
Although building a camera from The Focal Cameras designs is certainly going to be a bit more labor intensive then making a pin hole out of a shoe box, the cameras that van Oosterhoudt has created thus far look pretty promising and a good reminder of simpler, analog times.
Check out all of the modular designs here. If you end up building your own we’d love to see the results.