This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.
Cary Norton, Birmingham, Alabama
People of all ages have constructed things with Legos. The beloved children’s toys have been used in sculpture, animations, and now, as a functional large format camera. Photographer Cary Norton has loved large format photography for years, and Legos for much longer. Blending these two interests, Norton created the Legotron Mark I, a 4x5 camera made almost entirely from Lego blocks.
The 6 x 6.5 x 10 inch camera body is constructed like any other Lego creation, by linking the blocks together (no glue is used to permanently attach them). With the exception of the ground glass, the lens, and the threaded bolt for the tripod plate, all other parts are made from the colorful, plastic toy blocks—even the tripod plate base is Lego. The camera’s current lens is an old 127mm press lens from a Speed Graphic and while it could be modified for a different lens, 127mm is the ideal size as 127mm is five inches, which converts to 16 Lego dot-units. This is the camera’s minimum focusing position.
The Legotron Mark I is designed for use with 4x5 sheet film or other photosensitive substances of the same size. To date, Norton has produced only traditional negatives, though he has plans to use the camera for tintypes in the near future More than just a plastic box, the Lego pieces add interesting artifacts to Norton’s images. Strange lines from light leaks and bumps from the tops of the Lego blocks sometimes make their way into the frame, acting as type of signature unique to this new take on the “toy camera.”