A few days ago, Gizmodo featured a story about a a photographer that turned a vintage camera into a lens for his DSLR. Well, heck, I can do that!
I have had in my possession a beautiful Kodak No.2 Folding Premo 115/120 film camera. The camera was made in 1916 and the quality of the build never ceases to amaze me. (The camera actually came with an exposed role of 115 film that I have yet to find a processor to develop, though the likelihood of that happening are increasing slim.). The bellows are still supple and the exposure actuator works great, in fact it has a "toggle" mode which allows me to leave the aperture open and leave the exposure to the DSLR. The nice thing about this unit is the back of the camera, which holds the film actually comes completely off which leaves the actual camera mechanism wide open.
After some rough hand-couple tests with the 5D, it became clear that not only does it work, I have focusing from about 8" to infinity, which was promising.
So I set about creating a mount using my most favorite material of all: cardboard. I had a few broken 50mm f/1.8 lenses so I hack sawed the mount off of one and began gluing that into the cardboard frame. I found out soon enough that cardboard would not be rigid enough to support the weight of the camera on the body, so I scratched the work and started using some corrugated plastic board I had in the garage, which worked out much better.
With combination of gorilla clue and electrical tape (for light blocking) the mount took form. The thing I most like about the mount is that it makes no modification to the vintage camera itself. After letting the glue dry overnight, it was ready to test:
The camera performs as a 70mm lens or so. The aperture is probably in the f/2.8-f/3.3 range. The rail on the body acts as a focusing mechanism, with infinity occurring with the bellows nearly entirely compressed, and at the maximum extent, works as a macro lens with a focusing distance of about 8 inches. The bokeh is delightfully murky and the focus, at it's tightest, is about as expected for hundred year old, uncoated optics. Not exactly razor sharp. At its closets focus, the vignetting is quite harsh. These flowers are about 1cm across:
So there you have it. A steampunky, hipsterlicious camera lens on a DSLR. Just shy of 100 years of difference in age between them.
If I wasn't so hesitant to modify the old Kodak, it has a lot of promise as a tilt-shift lens, which might be fun as well.