About this project
What happens when you point an iPhone camera into a mirror? Is the resulting photo digital or did some analog slip into the process? If the mirror has a fancy highly reflective front surface coating then the photograph is digital. But what if you point it at a wonky mirror made of paper that ripples and twists? Is it still digital? Maybe some analog glitches enter the scene. Bend it like a fun house mirror and the images get a little weirder. The photos are still digital but warmer and stranger than regular smartphone pix.
The Lo-Fi Camera Box takes this to another level. It comes with 9 different colored metallic paper mirrors. Different colors will have more or less ripples on the surface offering a variety of effects. You can experiment with the different mirrors to see which you like best. Try different focus points to see how that interacts with the mirror papers to affect your pictures. You can also push the back of the paper mirror or push the sides to make the surface concave or convex to distort the image.
Did we just slip into analog territory?
How Does It Work?
The Lo-Fi is a laser cut wooden box that holds the mirrored paper cards at a 45 degree angle. Your iPhone or other smartphone sits on top of the box pointed at the mirror. The photographer looks down on the camera like an old Twin Lens Reflex camera.
Your images will be reversed and upside down. Correct them with one of many image editing programs that are available on smartphones. Adobe's PS Express handles these tasks quite easily.
Lo-Fi can provide some great effects for your movies. You may not want to use it for your entire project but it can provide some great special footage for your video.
The campaign video above was made with a Lo-Fi Camera Box using an iPhone.
I started developing the lo-Fi camera box in late 2014 after having played with reflective papers on other projects. The early version looked like a classic camera from the late 1890s. It was crafted out of cherry with walnut parts. There were over 54 parts including a special 3d printed rack and pinion. Assembly took two days for each one. Only the iPhone 5 and 6 were supported. The original Lo-Fi took up a lot of space. Carrying it required a commitment akin to toting a 4x5 view camera. The mirrored cards needed to be easier to swap. It was a gorgeous camera but difficult to use.
I knew that the new design needed to be more flexible and cheaper to produce. Fast forward to 2016. The new Lo-Fi solves all these issues: flexible, portable, and easy to pack. The camera box consists of five pieces of wood and 6 rubber bands. It's easy to disassemble and carry. All the parts fit in 7 x 11 inch cotton bag that is less than 1 inch thick. The mirror cards can be easily changed. Weight is less than 13 ounces. The ultimate in low technology.
Parts and Assembly
Here are all the parts that are included in the Lo-Fi Camera Box package. It includes a laser cut Lo-Fi box, assembly manual, latex-free rubber bands, nine mirrored paper cards, and cotton kit bag.
This video is a step by step guide for assembly.
The new design allows for easier production and lower end user cost. I'll be cutting the parts using our in-house lasers. Here is the tripod mount being cut:
Circling around in Lo-Fi:
Risks and challenges
I have completed four successful Kickstarter projects. They were all delivered a little late since I added more features. Its hard for me to freeze development and just ship! The Lo-Fi project will be different. Why? It's totally done: the manual has been written, the Lo-Fi boxes are out of beta tests, all the parts are sourced and we've ordered sample quantities to test. (This includes the cards, the kit bag, the FSC plywood, and the tripod nut.) All that remains is buying more wood in bulk to produce them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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