I was lucky enough to be given the lomography Konstruktor DIY SLR camera kit. I had been interested in this kit for a while, I thought it would be fun to build my own camera and learn a bit more about how cameras work in the process. Lomography said that the camera was simple to build and would take 1-2 hours to complete.
Well, I built it yesterday and I did feel a sense of achievement upon completion but only because the previous 4 hours (!!) were like a living nightmare (apart from the very nice curry I had for tea halfway through). I have documented my journey with the Konstruktor via the medium of blurry mobile phone camera pictures.
Here is me at the start of the journey, all fresh faced, enthusiastic and wearing my glasses for extra ‘smarts’…
And here is the contents of the box…
It looked straight forward. I can follow instructions and am reasonably bright, how difficult could it be? The instructions were alright but at times I had to consult the internet for further clarification on how bits joined together.
There were so many tiny tiny tiny screws that all looked a bit the same, and I had to screw them into all kinds of hard to reach areas on the camera and they never seemed to want to go in straight, they just wanted to stick to the magnetised screwdriver! Here is a tip for anyone making this camera: two types of screws look v. similar but one has a mushroom cap and the other a flat cap- for your own sanity separate them at the start! There is a guide to all the parts, including the screws at the very BACK of the manual, I didn’t find this until the end…..
I had some ‘help’ from Hank:
At times there were issues with bits that were meant to fit together not quite fitting and having to force them, this was particularly true when assembling the lens. Some parts were meant to twist together until the screw holes were aligned, however, mine always seemed to be about 2mm out. I managed to do it eventually but it took a while and it wasn’t enjoyable!
There was a particularly dark moment which involved hooking a tiny spring over a tiny pole without stretching and deforming it- I’m still not ready to talk about it.
This is not an easy camera to make despite the advertising – it is very fiddley and frustrating………however, the final product looks and feels pretty great, much more substantial than I was expecting:
The viewfinder is bewitching to look at, so different to the optical viewfinders of most SLRs and having to look at 90 degrees to the image is an interesting experience. The mirror mechanism makes a satisfying clunk which reassures me that things are working as they should!
However, after all this pain the camera doesn’t work properly, the film keeps jamming. The film spool rotates beautifully without film on and loads perfectly but after 1 or 2 shots everything just jams up and it it won’t turn. This is apparently a common issue with this camera but it is kind of heartbreaking after all of this effort for it to still not be functional!
I have looked up a couple of fixes, the first I will try is to use 24 exp film rather than 36 exp as some users on flickr state that this has made a difference in their model. If that sill fails I will open it all up again and remove the film counter cog. I hope it works soon!
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