…but what does it mean?
One of my hobbies is playing around with cameras. I produce my own moving images, animation and live capture films. But, I don’t do a lot of still photography. That’s because the projects I work on tend to be narrative driven, in the sense of telling a story over time. But that doesn’t meant I ignore stills. In fact, I have quite a project I’m working on that is solely for this purpose.
You see, some years ago I built my own digital camera. It took me an age to figure out, and it wasn’t what you’d call user friendly. It was big, heavy, and wouldn’t fit in your pocket. In fact it ran off USB, which meant it wasn’t very transportable either, as it needed to be connected to a computer to operate.
But, it did make for a proof of concept.
The image you see in the background of the explore page (and below) is actually one that came from this camera. It was only 3.87 megapixels, which is nothing to boast about, but that was only a small sample of what it could theoretically do. It actually had the capacity to take a 2,200+ megapixel photo. That’s not a typo – that’s over 2-thousand megapixels.
The frame was made out of wood, glue and screws. It was solid, and there was no light leaks. The bellows was made out of a kind of black leathery material turned inside out. It wasn’t the best material, the black side was a little shiney, but it worked OK. The image below shows the bellows, the wooden lens mount and the large format lens.
And below is a picture of the setup I used to test the glass backing. There’s two images, the first shows what the camera was point at (Voltron Lion figures circa 1980’s!) and the second showing the projected image on the glass backing. It’s hard to see, but you can just make out some of the Voltron Lion figures on the glass upside-down. The image appears upside down, because the light paths through the lens get inverted.
When I first put the sensor inside and fired it up, I could barely get an image out of it. Everything would just come out black. It took me a while to progress to something, though that wasn’t great either. The image below is hard to see, but if you look carefully you can see an electric guitar on a stand, and a shelf with books and DVDs in the background. Ignore the square marking, that was part of my post production when examining the image.
It took me a while, but I finally managed to get a more complete picture. From memory, the issue was to do with the lens, which was fixed when I purchased the bigger, larger format one.
The images were black and white. To get colour images, I had to take 3 separate photos with red, green and blue cellophane filters over the lens. I was able to get a 600 mega-pixel image before sadly damaging the sensor. It no longer takes full size pictures, but I’ve still got the lens, and the proof-of-concept is there.
To date, a new one is in the design stage, which will have components built with my 3D printer. There’s still a lot of design work going on, but I think I can make a better and lighter frame, something that’s a bit easier to transport. I can probably make some sections out of carbon-fibre to help reduce weight and keep frame strength. I have a plan to take a particular photo with it a local vantage point to showcase it’s resolution, but you’ll have to wait for that image.
For now, here’s a couple more historic shots taken of, and from, the original BSC2200 camera.