We recently asked Mark Gotthelf to share his journey in building and shooting with his super cool, DIY medium format camera.
Some of you may already be aware that we regularly prowl Reddit communities, on the lookout for cool film photography stuff. A great example is this homemade camera we recently spotted on r/AnalogCommunity. Curious about the work that went into this project, we got in touch with its maker, Mark Gotthelf, and asked him to tell us about his DIY process.
Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mark is a PhD Mechanical Engineering student who loves collecting cameras and doing simple repairs, so it’s easy to see why he took on this cool project. He has been wanting to build his own cameras for about four years, but most of the projects he took on ended up too expensive to build or too bulky to use. His chance finally arrived when he came across Dora Goodman’s website. There, he found the perfect camera to build this summer, with only minimal purchase components and a fairly simple 3D print required.
For this project, he assembled a 3D printed body out of black PLA, a Professional Topcor 75mm f5.6 originally for a Horseman Press camera, and a Mamiya RB67 220 back for film advance (loaded with 120 film).
Mark explains the building process in detail:
“I decided to build a modification of a modification. Dora Goodman has a camera called the Zone that is meant to work with Mamiya Press lenses and be zone focus (hence the name). Over the summer she published a modification for the Zone called the A11 for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The main difference was that the A11 modification allowed the use of a lens helicoid for focus, meaning you could use lens that doesn’t have a focus mechanism. I wasn’t able to get my hands on a Mamiya Press lens within my budget but was able to find a lens for a Horseman Press camera that was sold as parts and I could use that with the A11 mod. I ended up needing to modify the A11 mod to reduce the size of the helicoid as the flange focal distance of the Horseman Press lens was way shorter than Dora’s print. I also had to do some quick repairs on the lenses aperture ring by aligning the aperture blades.”
After printing, however, Mark discovered a light leak that he had difficulty locating. He thought he only needed to change how he was hanging his straps, but that didn’t fix it. He also had to spend an afternoon figuring out the camera’s focus, and he’s still learning how to utilize the depth of field with it.
Below are some of the photos that Mark has shot with his DIY camera so far:
Want to take on this project as well? Mark says he’s planning to send his files to Dora Goodman soon so others can have a go at it as well. Keep your eyes peeled on her website, or leave Mark a message on Reddit.