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Chroma is a unique large format technical field camera, built from laser cut acrylic and available in a selection of colours.
Chroma is a unique large format technical field camera, built from laser cut acrylic and available in a selection of colours.
Chroma is a unique large format technical field camera, built from laser cut acrylic and available in a selection of colours.
192 backers pledged £44,948 to help bring this project to life.

About

Chroma - The unique, 4x5 technical camera project video thumbnail
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£44,948

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 I'm Steve Lloyd and this is.. 

Complete Chroma 4x5 System
Complete Chroma 4x5 System

 

Chroma Family Portrait
Chroma Family Portrait

 

Chroma folded down for transport
Chroma folded down for transport

 

Beta Chroma in my home town - Liverpool
Beta Chroma in my home town - Liverpool

 

 What is a Chroma?

Chroma is a brand new large format technical field camera, designed from the ground up to meet the needs of photographers of all experience levels. It is built from high quality acrylic in a variety of colours, using highly accurate laser cutting to ensure consistent build quality and performance.  

What can it do?

Built around a 4x5 modular principle, but similar to medium format systems, the Chroma film back can be swapped in a few seconds using integrated magnets to allow multiple mediums to be used. At launch, the Chroma will take standard 4x5 DDS film holders (none included with the camera).  It allows the photographer full control of all front standard movements to aid creativity.  Future plans include both a 6x12 medium format roll film back and a 4x5 wet plate back.

What is a 'Technical Field Camera'?

A large format camera holds the lens frame/lens within the front 'standard'. The two most common types of front standard for large format cameras are "Traditional" and "Technical". A "traditional" standard mounts the lens within a frame, connected to a pair of uprights using a single threaded bolt on each side. By loosening these bolts, the lens frame can be moved up/down (known as "Rise & Fall") and rotated forwards/backwards (known as "Tilt"). Whilst simple to manufacture, these types of standards can be difficult for new users as adjusting one movement can lead to changes in the other. 

 Large format photography is a rewarding process but can be equally frustrating! In contrast, a "Technical" standard has independent controls for the main movements which means that the photographer can concentrate on each movement without impacting another. Whilst these standards are more complex to build, their benefits in use are worth it.

In this render, the front standard has 25mm Rise, 45 degree rear tilt, 45 degree right swing and the focus bed is extended by 100mm to give a total length of approximately 250mm.  The rear standard is also configured to add a further 20mm of rise.  All of these movements are locked independently of each other, allowing for very fine control of perspective and depth of focus.

Selection of movements available
Selection of movements available

What's included with each Chroma?  

Your Chroma camera will come with the following;  

  • Main Chroma 5x4 technical field camera in your choice of colour (selection can be made at the end of the campaign)
  • Magnetic Ground glass plate
  • 0.4mm Pinhole board, giving an F/225 aperture at 90mm so you can use your Chroma straight away with your own 4x5 DDS film holder
  • Plain Linhof/Wista style lens board with your choice of Copal 0/1/3 hole. (There is no standard lens included with the Chroma so you will need to supply your own, according to your personal preference).  The front standard will also accept existing Linhof/Wista boards.  
  • Standard black bellows 

If you would like to back the campaign without purchasing your own Chroma, there are also ShootfilmCo Pin Badges and embroidered patches (made by my mum!) available. All support is really appreciated.

Technical Specifications

  • The release Chroma will be built from 3/5mm laminated acrylic sheet.  These give both strength, rigidity and unique colour options.  The design shown in the launch video was a previous beta version but the black camera at the top of the campaign is the final 'Alpha' release.
  • Choice of opaque gloss acrylic colour from; red, pink, blue, white, green, (matt) black, black, purple, yellow
  • Embedded magnets within the front/rear standards and focus bed to provide tactile feedback for 'zero' positions on movements.
  • Full range of technical movements on front standard and rise/fall on rear standard

        - 40mm of rise / 40mm of fall with combination of front/rear movements.

        - 30mm of shift each way

        - 45 Degrees of forwards/backwards tilt

        - Swing only limited by lens coverage and bellows

        - Magnetically-fixed rotating interchangeable back

        - Lightweight design with a total weight of 1592g (including ground glass)

        - Very small dimensions; 

                      when opened (mm) - 180x210x235 

                      (180x330x235 with full bellows extension)

                      when folded (mm) - 210x180x117 

        - Will accept lenses from 65mm (with recessed lens board)- 280mm, with maximum bellows draw of 300mm.

        - Multiple mount points for the front standard to accommodate different lenses and embedded magnets at 'zero' shift/swing position.

        - Uses traditional Linhof/Wista type lens board (included)

        - Uses standard 4x5 DDS film holders (not included)

        - Standard 1/4" tripod mount point

        - 0.4mm Pinhole lens board (included)

 

Range of movements available on your release Chroma
Range of movements available on your release Chroma

The Chroma does not come with a standard lens, this is to be supplied yourself and can be mounted into the included lens board.

        

X-Ray render of release Chroma with all movements at 'zero'
X-Ray render of release Chroma with all movements at 'zero'

Who am I and why am I doing this?

I've been a semi-professional photographer for 12 years, and have been designing and building custom projects for the whole of my life.  Having grown up around railway modelling and crafts through my parents, myself and my brother spent our time building and racing radio controlled cars, boats, hovercrafts, planes and anything else we could come up with!  As we got older, we moved on to building custom cars (full-sized ones!) and had a number of magazine features and articles.  

Moving forwards 20 years, I've spent the last 5 years building one-off custom film cameras.  These have included;

- A real-wood veneered Polaroid SX-70

Wenge veneer Polaroid SX70
Wenge veneer Polaroid SX70

- A Konica Hexar-inspired Olympus 35RC - Featured at 35mmc.com 

Hexar-inspired Olympus 35RC
Hexar-inspired Olympus 35RC

- My 'HolSlo', which combined a Nimslo 3D body with a Holga 120 lens for an ultrawide 35mm field of view - Featured at 35millimetre.co.uk 

Custom HolSlo 2d
Custom HolSlo 2d

- My unique Polaroid 110A 5x4 conversion - Featured at ThePhoblographer.com 

Unique 5x4 converted Polaroid 110a
Unique 5x4 converted Polaroid 110a

 - My 'InsTLR', 3D-printed Instax Mini back for medium format TLRs - Featured at ThePhoblographer.com 

3D-Printed InsTLR Instax back
3D-Printed InsTLR Instax back

 

I've always wanted to build a completely unique camera from a scribbled design on the back of a notepad to manufacturing the final product.  The natural next step is the Chroma, which started as a chat in a pub with other passionate film photographers on a TalkPhotography.co.uk F&C meet and has come to this point 18 months later!  

During those 18 months, I've been crowd-sourcing a wishlist of 'wants' and 'needs' for a brand new large format camera and have included the key features into my final build;

  •  Lightweight
  •  Easy to use
  •  Unique
  •  Affordable
  •  Upgradeable 

After deciding on the priorities, I started by looking at materials.  Traditional large format cameras are generally made with wood frames, but I wanted to build something unique and started to look at the use of laminated acrylic sheet instead.  I've been fortunate enough to work with an excellent local design company in the UK (Personify Design) who have given me their time and experience to learn about the handling and laser cutting of sheet acrylic.  After working through numerous assembly processes and sheet thicknesses, I've now found an excellent combination of strength, low weight and rigidity which, coupled with a large selection of colour options, results in a camera that's as unique as your photography style but won't get in the way.

How did I get to the final Chroma?

Over the last 18 months, I've designed and built numerous versions of the Chroma in a selection of materials. I've designed the whole camera myself, using 3D CAD software to model it on screen but there's no substitute for holding a physical design. I initially built the Chroma using MDF sheet as it's a low cost material that cuts well with the laser. My first design used an off the shelf macro rail for focusing and used an interlocking finger joint for disassembly.

Early 3D render
Early 3D render

 

Exploded diagram showing original rotating back
Exploded diagram showing original rotating back

 

First build
First build

 That model proved my design for the size/general shape but the integrated rotating back added unnecessary weight and complexity so I moved on to an acrylic build using a 3D printed hinge for disassembly and a magnetic back.

3D printed hinge for rotating body
3D printed hinge for rotating body

 

First acrylic build
First acrylic build

 

3D printed hinge
3D printed hinge

 

This build confirmed that acrylic was the right material to use as it's strong, light, machines well and is available in a range of colours.  However, the design was overly complicated with the 3D printed hinge and for usability, I wanted a technical front standard.

First technical front standard
First technical front standard

 

New design folded down
New design folded down

 

Updated front standard
Updated front standard

 

Hand-holding a large format camera!
Hand-holding a large format camera!

 

Ready to shoot
Ready to shoot

 After the first build of this new technical design, I made some further refinements to reduce the weight further and make sure that all movements were are as smooth and stable as possible.  This led me eventually the the 'alpha' build Chroma that I'm launching today.

Alpha release Chroma
Alpha release Chroma

 

Render of release Chroma in folded position
Render of release Chroma in folded position

Camera testing in the real world 

I've been working with Rachel Brewster-Wright from the Sunny16Podcast and LittleVintagePhotography to put her early beta Chroma through its' paces on a rooftop in Birmingham (in December) which would be a challenge for any camera and photographer!

Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)
Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)

 

Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)
Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)

 

Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)
Beta Chroma in flourescent blue (not available for campaign)

 

Rachel on a roof in Winter!
Rachel on a roof in Winter!

 

Rachel from Little Vintage Photography
Rachel from Little Vintage Photography

I've chatted with Rachel and Graeme about the Chroma and Rachel's thoughts on episode 79 of the Sunny16Podcast here.

What the campaign is for

Through several more design iterations, long hours at the laser cutter and a workshop/office full of Chromas I'm now ready to launch and need your support to purchase the materials and laser time to make Chroma a reality.

Shooting the launch video
Shooting the launch video

 

Early ground glass during testing
Early ground glass during testing

 

Standard 4x5 DDS film holder in place
Standard 4x5 DDS film holder in place

 

Fuji Quickload holder in landscape orientation
Fuji Quickload holder in landscape orientation

 

Example of movements available with Chroma
Example of movements available with Chroma

 

Wide angle movements
Wide angle movements

 

Chroma 'family' portrait showing design progression
Chroma 'family' portrait showing design progression

 

Beta Chroma folded for storage
Beta Chroma folded for storage

 

Beta Chroma ready for action
Beta Chroma ready for action

 

Taking a look at the Liver Birds
Taking a look at the Liver Birds

Through the design, I've built the Chroma to be a modular system that can be built upon in the future.  On release, your Chroma will come with a standard back for 4x5 DDS and Fujifilm Quickload holders, and a groundglass plate with embedded magnets which snaps into place to keep both types of film holders secure and flat.  However, I also have future plans for custom wet plate, 6x12, 6x17, 120 rollfilm and Instax Wide backs to be added.  These will use the same magnetic mounting points so can be switched easily.

Render of the 6x12 back planned for future release
Render of the 6x12 back planned for future release

 

Render of 4x5 wet plate back planned for future release
Render of 4x5 wet plate back planned for future release

There's also a friction fit ground glass cover plate included to protect the glass when the camera is in your bag or when securing the film holder.

Friction-fit ground glass cover removed
Friction-fit ground glass cover removed

The design for the Chroma has come a long way since my first design 18 months ago and is now ready for full release.  I'm really proud of the design and will continue to develop it, and its' entire ecosystem, for future upgrades.  By backing this campaign, you will be purchasing a unique large format camera that is ready to go into production.  The time and money I've invested into the camera over the last 18 months means that it is ready for production and I'm always happy to answer questions.

Risks and challenges

The camera is assembled using a number of 3/5mm acrylic sheets in various colours, which I have been purchasing in small volumes from a regular supplier. Whilst the supplier has confirmed that bulk purchases are possible, I have factored in delivery times for the materials in the expected shipping dates. Of course, material delivery is outside of my control so any delays will be shared via the campaign updates.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £6 or more About $8

    Handmade Chroma Patch

    A handmade black/purple Chroma patch for your bag/clothes, made by my mum!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £8 or more About $10

    Chroma Metal Pin from ShootFilmCo.com

    Help Chroma reach its' goal by pledging your support and receive a limited run metal Chroma pin badge from Mike Padua at ShootFilmCo.com.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $327

    Release Edition

    Standard release Chroma, which will be delivered once the #0 Edition, Earlybird and Kickstarter edition cameras have been completed. Available in a full range of colours and with the standard Chroma logo on the back of the ground glass holder. Your colour can be chosen from a selection of colours once the campaign ends;

    red, pink, blue, white, green, matt black, black, purple, yellow

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    112 backers
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  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £275 or more About $360

    Kickstarter Special

    Following on from the Earlybird Chroma cameras being assembled, this reward will mean that your own Chroma 4x5 camera will be assembled and shipped next. Available in the same choice of colours, it will come with the standard Chroma logo on the ground glass holder. Your colour can be chosen from a selection of options once the campaign ends;

    red, pink, blue, white, green, matt black, black, purple, yellow

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    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £350 or more About $458

    Kickstarter Earlybird edition - 1 of 10

    Be the first to receive your one-of-a-kind Chroma 4x5 technical field camera. As well as being the first cameras assembled and delivered in 2018, each camera will be laser engraved with its edition number (1-10) and your name/website. It will also be delivered in a custom bag with matching embroidery (handmade by my mum!). You can choose your colour after the campaign ends;

    red, pink, blue, white, green, matt black, black, purple, yellow

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    Reward no longer available 10 backers
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  6. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,327

    #0 Chroma - Single Charity Edition

    This is a completely unique Chroma in any single or multiple colours you want and will be serial number zero. I'm willing to build you an entirely one-off Chroma that nobody else will have, in return for your pledge (after Kickstarter fees) being donated to the charity of your choice. Your Chroma can be engraved with any text of your choosing and i'll ensure that the donation is well-publicised across suitable media.

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Funding period

- (30 days)