First posted 26 July 2009
For many, many years I have played around with putting odd lenses on cameras and making my own cameras out of whatever has been available. An interesting lens which I have used for many years is the Kodak Aero Ektar 178 mm f2.5 (7 inch).
I first acquired this lens back in 1981 when I bought an old wooden reflex camera locally. The lens was really beautiful for portraits and the camera took quarter plate glass in the dark slides, so some jiggering around had to be done to load them with film. Often the dark slides would scratch the film and ruin a shot, so I removed the back and built a crude 5×4 holder.
From that point onwards, I was able to get a more consistent result and shot many portraits on Polaroid type 55 (See the portrait section of my website at; http://www.andrewsanderson.com ), until the shutter finally gave up about ten years later. The camera laid unused on a shelf for many years and I thought about looking for another wooden reflex camera, but instead I had a bit of a brainwave;
I removed the mirror, screen and shutter mechanism from the broken camera and cut the back of the camera down. I then attached a Pentax 6×7 body. See picture;
I could now shoot hand held on roll film and get the same result, although the angle of view was reduced dramatically.
Here is a shot from the first film I took on it;
The small image here doesn’t do the lens justice, it is really sharp on the eyelash of the horse and falls away quite quickly into softness. The ‘bokeh’ (a word I hate) is better with this lens than any other I have ever used.
I put this camera together in June of 2008 and used it for a few months until the 10×8 Walker Titan I had commissioned was delivered. Once I had that, sharp images took precedence, so the ‘Thornton Pentax’ was left unused.
Having said that, the camera got another outing this weekend after the paper negative images I mentioned at first. I went out to do some landscapes using this camera loaded with Ilford SFX. and an orange filter.