I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for toy cameras. I have a good collection I’ll start sharing here. My favorite, of course, is the Holga. So much so, I actually slapped a Holga lens on my Fujifilm X Pro 1, a.k.a. Frankenholga. However my entry into the really fascinating and wonderful world of toy cameras and lomography actually started with model camera kits. I’ve built two kit cameras now. The first was a TLR by Fotodiox, and the second was the camera below: Lomography Konstruktor DIY Camera.
This camera is a fully functional 35mm SLR. It sports a 50mm fixed-aperture lens, a 1/80s shutter speed, bulb mode, and a faux leather wrap. It comes in a cool tri-fold box and I kid you not, it’s a build-it-from-scratch kit. Fear not, because the mirror mechanism is already assembled, you just get to put the rest of it together.
It has a waist-level viewfinder with a small magnifying glass. It focuses from 20 inches to infinity. The lens is plastic, and yes you get to build it, but it’s really not to difficult. It even has a film counter! I took my time and was done in about an hour and a half. The camera has a really cool manual reflex mirror. A lever on the front right of the camera lifts the mirror and reflects the image from the plastic lens through the ground plastic viewfinder. When you’re done composing, you simply depress the shutter button and it releases the mirror to capture the image.
If you’ve got a steady hand or stationary object, it takes pretty cool pictures. There is a bit of vignetting in the corners, and this one has a very mild touch of pincushion, so it keeps that “Lomography” feel. However, it’s not really a don’t-think-just-shoot kind of camera unless you pre-focus and use it like a point-and-shoot. That’s just my experience with it. Others have taken this camera all the way to project status, and there is a great online photo group that has some amazing photos as well.
At 1/80s shutter it’s not a good action camera, but I have attempted to do street photography with it. I don’t think I’ll be selling any prints or joining famous photographers basking in awesomeness, but street can be done with some patience using the Konstruktor.
Portraits are a breeze with the camera, and they turn out quite nice. Don’t expect much bokeh due to the KonstruKtor’s f/10-ish aperture, but again it gives that cool Lomo feel. I shot it with Fuji 200 film and developed the roll with a Unicolor Press Kit.
The Konstruktor is the very first 35mm DIY SLR camera. It’s not just a cool toy, or a neat model to give you a hands-on experience of how the SLR internals work, but a bit of history. It’s only been out since 2013, and has been relatively successful. It has spawned a plethora of accessories and has garnered a pretty cool following. It’s inexpensive, easy to build, and best of all it actually takes pictures!