Making the Lomography Konstruktor Camera

I'm not a professional photographer or a photography enthusiast of any sort.  If you look at any of the photos of mine on this blog you'll probably agree that I'm actually quite bad at photography. Neither am I a trendy London  Hipster hanging out in Shoreditch with a vintage camera around my neck.

So you'd think then that i'm not a likely customer for a new Camera from Lomography, but what I did enjoy doing when I was a kid was building plastic airfix models. My mum bought me a RAF bulldog trainer aeroplane, which when it was built was probably more glue than plastic, but I was so proud that i made it.  My all time favourite was the Spitfire  built when my gluing and painting skills had progressed to a reasonable level and I could daub the paint on well enough for it to not look horrendous. My other favourite was the SR-71 Blackbird, just because its a cool aeroplane.

I love making things, taking things apart and finding out how they work so when I heard that Lomography were releasing the Konstruktor a  35mm film camera  kit I ordered 1 straight away.  I've been so busy with work and other projects that I've not had chance to sit down and build it until now.

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The box says it takes 1 - 2 hours but I'm always a bit sceptical of things like that, especially as I prefer to go slow and steady so I wasn't too worried about how long it would take.

On opening the box I was really impressed how well packaged everything is.  All the major components are separated out and easy to identify. Before starting I wanted to double check that everything was present.

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There is a really good manual that details the build step by step, the diagrams in it are clear and accurate. Sadly there isn't a list of parts, but this isn't a major problem.

All the small  parts that are on the plastic frames are easy to identify as they are numbered and the larger parts are easy obvious from the diagrams in the manual. There are a few that fall between the two that are in plastic bags or small cardboard boxes. It would have been nice to have some identification on this packaging, but as the diagrams in the manual are nice and clear this didn't give any problems.

I was a little worried when I looked at the small parts on the plastic frames as there appeared to be some parts missing, but reading through the manual the identifiers for those parts weren't used so I presume that this was down to the tooling used or for future changes.

As well as the camera parts there are two more important things in the box.  A small bag of screws and springs and a screwdriver with a magnetic tip. Having the magnetic tip made the build so much easier,  would have really struggled without it.

There are three types of screws in the bag, so i emptied the bag into the lid of the box and separated the screws.  There are also two very tiny springs.  The springs are easily lost so be careful with them.

There are a lot more screws than you actually need which was nice. Either that or my camera is actually missing a LOT of screws.

The build starts off easily with the Lens assembly and the hood viewfinder. Making these two parts are a good introduction to the entire assembly process.  For each stage I  would recommend the following.

Read the assembly instructions in the manual and look at the diagram together.

Using the diagram identify all the parts needed.

Remove any of the parts needed from the plastic frame. I recommend using scissors to cut the plastic rather than trying to bend them off.

Double check that you have the correct parts. Some parts are similar and they are mostly all black.

Assemble carefully. Make sure you are both using the correct part and it is orientated correctly. Some parts have features at each end that are similar but different.

When the components are assembled, check everything is correct and then screw together using the correct screws.

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The Completed Lens 

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The  hood Viewfinder assembly

 

After the  hood Viewfinder and Lens it was on to the winding mechanism. The orientation of the spring and the components is important as is the order of assembly.

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Remember the tiny springs I mentioned earlier, now is the time to use it.  One is a spare which I needed to use as I damaged the first one.  Make sure you have the component with two spoke coming off of it the correct way around.  I didn't initially which meant after successfully mounting the spring I had to take it off again, re-position that component and then re-mount the spring.

The first spring was damaged because I tried to use the screw driver to hook it over the pin. On the second attempt I used a piece of thin stiff wire which made it much easier.

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That entire spring saga took around half an hour and was the most difficult part of the build.

The rest of the build is quite simple but with one thing to watch out for.  The  Light Chamber assembly comes pre-assembled.  At the top of it is a mirror that shows the image.  It appeared to be covered in blue plastic to protect it, but I couldn't find any reference to removing the blue plastic in the instructions and didn't want to remove it in case it was supposed to be left on.

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After finishing the camera I had a another flick through the manual and discovered the section at the back that explains how the Light Chamber works and how to take it apart and re-assemble it if you want.  It is here that it tells you to remove the blue protective plastic.

I loved that there is a section in the manual explaining how something works and how to take it apart if you want.  I wish all products had that.

So after another bit of disassembly and faffing about the camera was finished.

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The entire process took around 4 hours including a couple of coffee breaks.  I'm not fast at this sort of thing and wasn't in any hurry. I would recommend that you have somewhere clean, tidy and well lit if possible.  Because of the small pieces I would also try and do everything in one sitting as there is the possibility of things getting lost if the partially constructed camera and parts have to be tidied away.

It is really rewarding to make a finished physical product that can be used, rather than something that is a prototype or hack with limited real world use for a change.  The kit is really well made and thought out.  If you do like making things or want to understand how cameras work a bit more I would really recommend buying this kit.  Some of the parts are a bit small and fiddly but take your time and be patient, most people should be able to make this in a afternoon.

Next step is to  put some film in the camera and take photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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