This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.
Andreas Zieroth, Berlin, Germany
German photographer Andreas Zieroth’s calls his homemade 6x9 camera “The Ugly Brick,” a name that refers to camera’s aesthetics, but certainly not to the quality of images that it produces. Inspired by a fellow member of the Flickr community’s DIY 6x9 camera some years ago, Zieroth set out to create his own.
Essentially, The Ugly Brick is a fixed lens box camera with a high-quality lens. Zieroth spend a weekend calculating the dimensions of the camera, testing with a mockup made from a shoebox and wrapping paper. He searched eBay for the right lens at the right price, and finding that the desired Rodenstocks or Schneider-Kreuznachs lenses were far out of his price range, settled on a Mamiya lens that is a close-up lens from a 4x5 Polaroid pack film camera. The lens had been used to capture ultrasound scans from a screen in the 1950s, and Zieroth discovered that is also sharply records landscapes. A a few more late-night eBay searches for the viewfinder turned up a 65mm viewfinder from a Mamiya Super 23.
To construct the camera’s body, Zieroth used two blocks of raw laminate wood. For the lens frame, he cut a hole into an aluminum plate and screwed it into the body. The Rada 6x9 roll film back is made from three adapted angular rails affixed to the additional wooden frame on the back of the camera. The resulting photographs are crisp landscapes that are far from ugly, despite the camera’s nickname.