It’s arrived! The Intrepid Camera. Time to unpack it and take a first look.
It’s only been a first look so no comment yet on how it performs but there are always first impressions and early observations. Let’s not forget that this is a hand crafted and built camera that can be ordered today for just £200 (there’s been a lot of interest in it so expect to join quite a long queue!). For me, the camera is my ‘reward’ for backing to the tune of just £129, The Intrepid Camera Co. and their quest to produce an affordable, lightweight large format camera. So if I wanted to judge this financially, I’ve made a good return on my investment! However, my primary reason for backing the project was my interest in and desire to support, an initiative aimed at promoting accessible traditional photography. And I wanted one of the cameras!
My first impression was the weight. The package weighed in at little over a kilogram. Add a lens or two and the whole thing will weigh less than a full-frame DSLR. Film or plate holders will add a bit but that’s dependant on how many I carry with me on an outing.
The camera is constructed from birch plywood with anodised aluminium components and bellows from a composite of ripstop nylon and a lightproof inner. I chose blue bellows but I could have had black, red or green. The wood is lightly varnished and has an unpretentious rough feel to it and smells good too! Overall it feels solid enough for its weight although a little voice in the back of my mind tells me to take care with it and not overtighten the knobs. The knobs securing the front standard felt tight but I suspect they will ease, hopefully not too much, with use.
The thread for the tripod bush is set quite deep behind a securing plate and I had some difficulty securing the quick release plate for the tripod I used for the photographs. My Manfrotto PL14(?) QR plate didn’t fare much better and as I have a spare, I will probably leave it attached to avoid wearing the threads and be particularly careful not to do the lazy thing of carrying the tripod with the camera attached.
Lensboards fit snugly, as does the board-mounted pinhole that came with the camera and both film and the slightly thicker plate holders are held firmly and securely in place. The ground glass screen is good and bright but has no guide marks. I guess I can use a felt-tip pen to make my own if I feel the need. The back containing the ground glass can be removed completely and the camera has Graflok-type fittings that will enable other backs for such as Polaroid or medium format to be fitted instead.
All in all, I’m pretty certain I will have a lot of fun with the Intrepid camera. It is a quite comprehensive bit of kit, an ideal starter camera. Indeed I am looking forward to learning the effects of rise and fall, swing and tilt, bellows extensions and all that goes with large format photography. I hope to blog my adventures and share some of the images I create with it.