While searching for a wooden camera, or even considering in building one for my own, I recall the time when I was in photo 101 when we had to work with the most basic scraps, household items, or found materials in making small dark chamber with oiled paper as a screen.

Note: what was interesting was the word “kamera” was used to described as room when I was in Italy, which I was quite ignorant to notice as I thought the lodging folks was trying to converse with me about photography! Which was an insightful experience.

Making of the box camera 

So I began to build a sliding camera, plus to measure out an old unnamed petzval lens where I had no idea of its focal length.

Though such measurements could be done without a  camera which could be noted in various sources like you tubes, websites, forums, etc. nothing beats to have a physical shape and building your own camera.

It was quite simple design, based on the sliding box camera, just to have an idea on the limitation in applying the lens against the size of image and the focus of near object/subject, which was obvious when seen physically.

The unnamed lens appeared to hit the limit of a quarter plate, the fuzzy swirl is there which marked the characteristic of petzval, but the downside was the calculated maximum aperture was at f/6, quite slow for any work that deals with living subject.

So it was obvious this was more of a study lens, or what I would use to work on still life objects, until I get a faster lens or just turn it into my workhorse camera.

The fun part I notice about these old lenses was the ability to switch the lenses from front to back, or just use only single element, which renders the lens as landscape if the configuration was in place.

This camera obscrura, which took me an hour to build, lived only for few minutes as it was only meant as a reference for me to build my own camera, which I will post next.

Sliding box camera
Unnamed petzval lens