Some Assembly Required: Hugo Cardoso’s Panolgikon (panoramic + Holga + Nikon)

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.


Hugo Cardoso, Porto, Portugal

Hugo Cardoso is no stranger to camera-making. A fabricator by trade, he has built numerous pinhole cameras and we previously featured his slit-scan camera in 2017. Looking for a new challenge, Cardoso decided to reconfigure a 35mm camera into a panoramic format when he was gifted a non-repairable Nikon F3. To achieve the panorama’s 24x72mm frame, he extended the Nikon’s original frame cutout, although it was a tight fit. In his search for a medium format lens that could fill the frame and that had a built-in shutter, he purchased a broken Holga for 5 euros and chopped off the lens.

After a lot of measuring, the front plate of the Nikon was sectioned, rebuilt, and the Holga lens mounted to it. To bridge the top plate, Cardoso fashioned a sheet metal piece and filled the interior with black paper curtains to reduce light leaks. The viewfinder is repurposed from a plastic panorama camera and masked with electrical tape. The resulting camera is comprised of a Holga lens, Nikon body, and panoramic format and is appropriately named the Panolgikon.

His first two test rolls showed a red light leak (pictured below). While some might argue that the leak is part of the camera’s charm, it isn’t something he wanted to appear consistently. Upon close examination, Cardoso discovered that the spot was caused by the red plastic trim on the front of the Nikon, which was then removed. There are some imperfections: the film winder does not lock, meaning that Cardoso has to wind twice and remember that the film is wound. However, the improvised viewfinder provides a mostly accurate approximation of the camera’s capture.

Cardoso considers the build a success, but the camera’s one-speed lens and two adjacent apertures are limiting. While he may one day replace the lens, for a 5-euro project, Cardoso has successfully salvaged two irreparable cameras to produce dreamy, elongated, wide-angle photographs.


View more of Cardoso’s work on his Instagram.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at