I had this foamcore 8"x10" box camera sitting around my workshop, unused for months, and decided today to make a modification that would (hopefully) make it more useful. I have been in the habit of carrying around several preloaded box cameras, but thought it might be fun to find a way to only have to carry one box camera, but minus the weight, bulk and expense of using sheet film holders.

Several years ago I had sketched out the idea for installing compartments in such a box camera, behind the film plane, with an access door in the side. The idea was that the box would be loaded into a changing bag, and the sheet film or paper at the film plane could be swapped out with paper in the rear storage slots. The storage slots would be wide enough to permit dozens of negatives to be loaded into the camera ahead of time.

I had begun work on such a camera last year, but let the project sit uncompleted. All I had was a rectangular insert, made from galvanized steel spray painted black, that had a hole in one side, corresponding to the pinhole shutter, and thin flange rails on the inside opposite the hole, to retain a sheet of paper or film. So I dusted off the insert and, using several holes and miscallaneous hardware, mounted the insert into the foamcore box camera.

Figure 1 shows the general layout of the box:


Figure 2 shows the box with the shutter open:


A simple sheet of thin cardboard serves as the divider in the rear compartment between unexposed and exposed paper.

Figure 3 shows the side-opening lid removed, and the film plane, with the two storage slots behind it:


I had also recently purchased a new changing bag at a local camera store, and it proved large enough such that this camera, when loaded into the changing bag on end, would permit the side-opening lid to be removed and the sheets of photo paper to be swapped around between the various slots.

Figure 4 shows the camera being loaded, end-wise, into the changing bag:


I loaded six sheets of photo paper into the camera today and took it out into the field, along with tripod and backpack stuffed with calculator, notebook, changing bag and light meter; all the exposures came out fine, but I had some development problems (unrelated to this camera) that only permitted me to post four of the resulting images (here, here and here).

There were more issues with dust on the resulting images than I've been used to, which may be one unavoidable consequence of handling photo paper out in the field when one's hands are dusty from handling the tripod and being out in the environment. I may have to find some solution like wet-wipes, with which to clean one's hands prior to touching the film.

~Joe