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Vermeer 120 mm (6x6) Pinhole Camera

I have recently purchased a handmade wooden roll film camera from Czarek Bartczak, a camera maker based in Wroclaw, Poland. I hope that this article will serve as an introduction to Czarek's work and product line.

While much enjoyment can be found in creating your own camera, sometimes there is an element of surprise and delight when purchasing a camera that someone else has created. I am not referring to a mass-produced or perfectly engineered camera. There is no razor-sharp glass or ultra-reflective metal in this product!

Companion Book Chapters
Consult Chapter 2 (Advanced Track) of The Pinhole Camera for additional tricks, tips, and help in selecting a commerically available camera.
Roll Film Camera
120mm film
Vermeer 6x6 Camera
I purchased a camera in the 6x6 format, which suits my preference for square images. Czarek constructs cameras in multiple formats from 6x4.5 to 4x5. The Vermeer 6x6 camera is durable and constructed from sycamore wood. The camera is stained in an interesting yellow finish which I really like. The joints are pretty solid and the mitered rounded edges really finish the out design. The front face of the camera features an embossed label of "Wide Angle Vermeer Pinhole Series 003" which really adds a touch of class in my opinion.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
The camera front features a rotating disk that alLows you to cover and uncover the pinhole mounted within.
The camera back is held in place by bolts that penetrate the entire camera from front to back. Simple wing nuts hold everything secure. This is an interesting design that solves the problem of your camera back popping off, which has happened to me with other cameras.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
The camera reverse features a red plastic window for advancing film to the next frame.
This camera accepts 120 format film, although you can certainly run a roll of 35 mm film through this as well. Just remember to seal the reverse red window completely. The focal length is 35 mm which produces a really wide angle image for the 6x6 format. The aperture is specified as f/175 with an angle of view of 100°.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
The bottom of the camera features a tripod mount and an information tag. These cameras are handmade and mine happens to be #25 out of a 30 camera batch.

Copyright © 2009 Brian J. Krummel
The interior is well designed. The knurled knob has a spring attached which allows adequate tension applied to the take-up spool. Cork and foam trim the inside chambers to provide padding and tension on the film rolls. Metallic tape is applied to the cross supports to minimize negative scratching.
Interview With The Camera Maker
Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Wroclaw, Poland and I'm 40 years old. Before I opened my pinhole workshop I worked many years as a photographer, involved in studio, children and wedding photography, and portraiture work. I worked also as a graphic designer and image setter operator.

Czarek Bartczak
How did you get started in pinholing and why do you make your own cameras?
I began my pinhole adventure six years ago. My friend made a large format cardboard camera and he "infected" me with the virus of pinhole camera making. My first pinhole camera was the conversion of vintage plastic Ami (120 roll film type compact). The result was fantastic- blurry, painterly images, extreme wide angle views, and vignetting— well known attributes for all pinhole fans. But I was still unsatisfied. I wanted to achieve a shorter focal length to increase the fish eye effect, and to be honest my converted cameras were ugly. I started to browse the Internet to find other cameras that were easy to convert and that is when I found some pages with hand made cameras. I noticed that a hand crafted camera does not need to be made from the cardboard, tin can, electrical black tape, or other disposable materials. That pinhole camera is not only a plastic Holga or similar mass produced camera made by the thousands. People know that almost every plastic camera body has light leaks, sealing tape is required, and the shutter does not work properly and so on— although they are still popular. When I design my own pinhole camera, I can get exactly what I need and for a reasonable price. So I decided to build my own pinhole cameras.

The first series was 20 cameras, all 6x6 cm and 6x9 cm frame size with sliding backs. I drilled the pinhole aperture myself, using precision mini drills that I ordered. I asked my friend to make the wooden boxes. At that moment I was not to able to make everything myself. Now I have much more equipment, I opened small workshop.

Pinhole photography is great fun for me. It gives me endless possibilities of creating pictures (and cameras). If I feel like using the fish eye effect, I do not need to go out and buy an expensive lens. I just build the camera instead! Some people say that pinhole and other experimental methods called primitive photography is step backwards in the modern "digital" world. I think that pinhole photography and camera making both restore the mystery which we have lost.

Ever since I have learned to build my first own pinhole camera, I explore my world and develop my own "seeing projects". This is now my path, where I have full control, and can create my "vision." I meet lots of interesting people, who are just like me, crazy about pinhole photography! My little daughter calls us "Aliens from outer space."

Many pinhole photographers prefer to purchase cameras rather than creating their own. What types of cameras and formats do you offer?
I make wide range 120 roll film and large format cameras. I'm always working on new projects too— 6x18 cm curved plane film camera will be available in the next two-three weeks. An anamorphic camera will be available soon as well.

The following cameras are available at this moment:

120 Roll Film  

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x4.5 cm frame size
34 mm focal length, body- sycamore wood, black

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x6 cm frame size
34 mm focal length, body- sycamore wood, yellow

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x9 cm frame size
75 mm focal length, body- sycamore wood, yellow

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x12cm panoramic
70 mm focal length, body- sycamore wood, black-yellow

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
Kiev back camera
6x6 frame size, 32mm focal length
Large Format  

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
4x5 inch film holder camera
65 mm focal length, body- sycamore wood, green

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x6 Vermeer camera
Fuji superia 200 ASA
6-8 Second Exposure

Copyright © 2009 Czarek Bartczak
6x6 Vermeer camera
Fuji superia 200 ASA
6-8 Second Exposure
These cameras are crafted with care and forged with love. If you are looking for a quality camera to have a lot of fun with, look no further and give the Vermeer a chance. At a fraction of the cost of Zero Image products, I think you will be satisfied with Czarek's cameras.

You can learn more about Czarek's product line-up or purchase your own camera by visiting his website. In addition to cameras, he sells pinhole body caps and zone plate products. He also sells his camera creations on eBay under the Seller Name of Cezarioo.
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