Friday, September 7, 2018

Funding Film Part II: Chroma Camera

Earlier this year I participated in a Kickstarter Project for a new 4x5 Technical Camera, called The Chroma Camera. The creator, Steve Lloyd is based out of the U.K. and wanted to create a new, lightweight field camera that would work with existing film holders and lenses.  Previous 4x5 field cameras were usually made of either wood, or metal, but this one would be made of Acrylic. You can view images of the camera on the Chroma Camera FLICKR Group page.

First of all, as Kickstarter Projects go, this one was pretty close to hitting its "Delivery" date (within a couple months) while I have "backed" two others that are 1 year (Lab-Box) behind and 4 years (Film Ferrania) behind and I have basically given up hope of receiving the "promised" product, or as they call it "Rewards."  As with all Kickstarter backed Projects, it's the backing that is the key and actually receiving a "Reward" is coincidental.

Three weeks ago I received an e-mail showing that my Chroma Camera was shipped on August 18 from the U.K. and would arrive on August 25.  Realizing that none of my lenses for my Speed Graphic would fit the Lens Board (Copal 0), I bid on a "Super-W-Komura 90mm f/6.3 lens" and won, but the lens wouldn't arrive until a few days after I received the Chroma.  The lens is about as long and wide as a can of soda.

As part of the Reward, the Chroma also comes with a "pinhole" lens board, which meant that I could still go out and shoot it until my new lens arrived.

I have never shot a pinhole camera, but thankfully there are websites that help you calculate exposure times based on the pinhole diameter. This pinhole lens board is close to an aperture of f/224, according to Steve. Before shooting film and hoping I nailed my exposure and composition, I used a pack of Fujifilm FP-100C Instant film, which is Fuji's version of Polaroids. Below is an Instant Film image.

You'll notice a "light leak" on the left edge of the image.  I thought it might have been the way I exposed the film, but after several exposures, the "light leak" was still there. I went ahead and shot some Black and White Film anyway. Again, the light leaks are present.

The one thing I did notice was the Exposure times were not the 2.5 seconds as the chart indicated, but rather 1 minute and 45 seconds. As I was folding up the camera to put it away, one of the front standards wouldn't collapse, so I loosened all the tension knobs and tried to carefully fold it down and then I heard a crack.  Ugh... I went home and ordered a tube of acrylic glue from Amazon. I also contacted Steve and sent him the pictures with the "light leaks" and he suggested that I use my dark cloth to cover the back while he works on a solution to mitigate the light leak.

The following day, after the glue dried and several folding tests, I set out to take more pictures with the camera, but only used Instant Film. Here is what what the camera looked like sporting its new dark cloth shroud.

I basically covered it from the front to the back.  The results were much better.  A couple things to bear in mind, shooting Instant Film with a pinhole does not yield tack sharp images.

With the success of the dark cloth shroud configuration, I went home and waited for my new lens to arrive.  Two days later, the lens arrived so set out to give it a try.  Due to the large amount of glass and no lens hood you will get sun flares unless you try shielding the lens.  This is my attempt to shield the lens from the sun, but forgetting the wideness is of the lens' "field of view" (90mm). This lens is really sharp and required my moving the front standard back past the gearing would allow.

Hands Off - lol

Kern River Canyon

Yesterday, Sept. 6, I received an email from Chroma Camera creator, Steve, informing his project backers that there is definitely a light leak, especially when the camera is used in bright sunlight.  Apparently the U.K. isn't nearly as sunny and bright as Southern California. He went on to write that he will be sending out a Light Seal Kit with instructions on how to apply the seals.  

Overall, I'm happy with my investment, but unlike my Speed Graphic, care must be used when using this camera. If you're interested to see more images produced from this camera, you can visit my Chroma Flickr Album.

Cheers and thank you for reading, Alan

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