This 1973 BBC Science Session Teaches You How to Make Your Own Giant Camera

Got the talent for prop making? You can probably DIY your own giant camera, with some help from this BBC Science Session episode. 

If you’ve been dreaming of building your own film camera, we’ve got just the stuff to help you get inspired. One thing to note, however — you’d be building a giant version of it! You’d be learning from none other than Michael Rodd, then presenter for BBC programs like the Science Session.

Freshly shared from the Facebook page of the BBC Archive is the nostalgic and fascinating Science Session clip from 1973 which shows how a camera works. Instead of taking apart a tiny point and shoot camera to poke around its parts, TV presenter Michael Rodd gave viewers something more interesting: building and assembling a jumbo-sized version to demonstrate the vital components of a simple film camera.

First, he gives an insight into the core concept behind a simple film camera: a light-sensitive medium inside a light-tight box. The former comes in different varieties, as many of us already know: 35mm films, 120 films, 110 films cartridges, and slide films, in color or black and white. On a side note, it may have been difficult for some film photographers to watch him pull out the 35mm film out of the canister, and unroll the 120 film!

Next comes the step-by-step assembly of the giant camera, which by then is hinted to be a 110 camera given the form of the 110 film cartridge. In this part, he touches base on pinhole photography, why a lens is necessary to make a sharp image, the aperture, and the shutter and its shutter speed. Finally, he puts the assembly in the outer case to complete it into something that “looks fairly familiar.”

And there you have it a giant camera made from bespoke parts nicely crafted by the BBC prop department! It would have been great to see if the video also showed that the camera can actually take an image, but maybe that’s asking too much from the prop department!

If you want a modern take with a digital camera (sans the giant version), there’s this BBC Class Clip that teaches kids how a digital camera’s CMOS sensor works — and if it’s always better to have as many pixels as possible.

Screenshot image from the video by BBC Archive