About this project
"Pretty amazing" — Photojojo
"Super cool" — The Phoblographer
"Ultralight 4x5 camera… ultra-friendly price" — The World's Best Ever
"My neck and shoulders already like this camera." — Mortal Muses
It's easy to fall in love with the incredible quality of 4×5 analog film, but no one loves lugging a heavy metal camera. We wanted to create a 4×5 that you could take anywhere in the world, and carry every day at home. The result is Travelwide. It's lighter than a DSLR, and not much larger—yet tough enough to toss in a side bag or cram into an overloaded backpack.
We built the Travelwide 90 around the Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8 lens (not included), because it's small, cheap, and good. 90mm in 4×5 is nice and wide (28mm equivalent), so it's perfect for travel and street photography. And the the image quality of 4×5 means you can comfortably crop the image to "zoom in."
The Travelwide 90 features a helical focus (focus ring) system which is specifically marked for the Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8. The large focusing ring is a breeze to use in the field, even with gloves on—and because it's marked, you can practice zone focusing or use an external rangefinder.
A travel camera should be lightweight. Fully loaded with a film holder, lens and accessories, the Travelwide 90 is just 630 grams (1 pound 6 ounces), compared to a Canon 5D Mark II with a tiny 40mm pancake, a combo that weighs in at 1033 grams (2 pounds 4 ounces). It's also remarkably compact—easier to fit in your bag than the Mamiya 7.
The Travelwide 90 is also compatible with several other 90mm lenses in Copal 0 shutters. As a general rule, if the ƒ/stop is ƒ/8 or ƒ/6.8, it should mount—you'll just need to adjust infinity focus using our easy instructions. ƒ/5.6 and ƒ/4.5 lenses are not recommended.
We'll include a simple metal sport finder so you can frame up your shot. If you want more accuracy, you can use our plastic "ground glass" insert, or purchase an accessory viewfinder. But we encourage you to try the sport finder, because it forces you to relax and use the camera as the fun point and shoot camera we designed it to be.
We also created the Travelwide 65, for the ultra-wide Schneider Super Angulon 65mm ƒ/8 lens (not included). It's a wonderfully wide view (20mm equivalent), for expansive landscapes. The Travelwide 65 reuses the body of the Travelwide 90, but instead of a helical focus, the focus is fixed at a very nice hyper-focal distance. When stopped down, everything from about 8 meters to infinity should be in focus. Since there's no focusing to deal with, it's even easier to operate.
Travelwide 65 is specifically built for the 65mm ƒ/8, and is not compatible with other lenses.
Both Travelwides feature a very handy low-profile spring back, which allows you to insert and remove a film holder with one hand. This unique back is only 1 millimeter thick, yet holds the film holder very securely. The slight curve at the end even acts as a thumb rest. When you need to use a Polaroid back, large roll film holder or other oversized holder, you can simply unscrew the spring back temporarily and attach the holder with strong elastics (such as heavy rubber bands or ball bungees).
To support bubble levels, viewfinders, rangefinders and flash units, we gave the Travelwide three well-spaced accessory shoes. We also created two utility boreholes through the grips. These holes enable you to attach a strap in a horizontal or vertical configuration, route a cable release, or attach a handle or other mount. We really hope that the Travelwide will become an inexpensive platform for camera hacking and experimentation.
The Travelwide will ship with a precision, chemically etched pinhole, so you can start shooting even without a lens. 4×5 pinhole photographs can be remarkably sharp, and pinhole has the advantage of unlimited depth of field. Equipped with a pinhole rather than a lens, Travelwide becomes unbelievably lightweight!
The Power of 4×5
Yes, they still make 4×5 film—in fact it's more advanced now than it has ever been. A sheet of 4×5 film can deliver astounding detail, and a tonal range that can't be matched by even the best digital systems out there. The range of exposure you can capture with one shot on negative film would be called "HDR" in the digital world. The highlights seem to go on forever, and the mid tones are creamy and smooth.
We're already addicted to shooting with our Travelwides, but now it's time to share them with the world! We had a very specific target price, and every step of the way, we've worked tirelessly to achieve it. Why $99? Because we want to get people excited about large format! We want everyone to give it a try—high school students, curious artists, photojournalists, photographers of all kinds, tinkerers like us... If you've ever considered 4×5 but were scared off by heavy, high-priced, complicated cameras, we made the Travelwide for you!
In order to realize that dream, we need to pay for several very expensive injection molds to be made in the US. All told, we need to raise about $75,000. It sounds like a lot, but we can do it with your help—in fact, the only way we can do it is with your help! Spread the word to all your friends who are into photography, so we can get this camera out there!
Lens Buying Guide
We recommend these sites to help you find a lens for your Travelwide:
- http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/forum.php — You'll need to register for the forum and be a member for 30 days before you can access the For Sale section, but this is a wonderfully helpful and welcoming community.
- http://www.keh.com/— KEH has very conservative ratings, so their "BGN" lenses are often in great shape and fully functional.
- http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=angulon+90+6.8 — Be careful on eBay. Ask the seller questions, and be sure to read their return policy. However, sometimes a truly great deal pops up.
A fair price for a 90mm Angulon ƒ/6.8 is US $150 - 200, depending on condition. A fair price for the Super Angulon 65mm ƒ/8 is US $220 - 300. Things to ask the seller:
- Does the top shutter speed (1/400 or 1/500) work?
- Do the slow speeds work? (It's normal for them to be a bit too slow, but sometimes they stick.)
- Are the elements hazy or beginning to separate?
Risks and challenges
We received quotes from multiple shops in the Midwestern US, and feel confident that $75,000 is a realistic number to cover the tooling and first production run of the Travelwide. However, we've learned that when it comes to manufacturing, one should expect the unexpected. We're not sure what that would be (that's what makes it unexpected!), but we've set aside some emergency money in the event that we go over budget on production.
Our CAD drawings are complete. From the first stages of design, we've paid careful attention to each detail, and how it might impact production. All that remains is to talk with our manufacturing partner to finalize the details of the inserts (metal parts inserted into the plastic) and make any minor tweaks they might request to ease production. Once they're satisfied with the drawings, the lead time for the tooling could be 10-12 weeks or more.
So why have we set our estimated delivery dates to December? We have every expectation that we can ship these cameras well before December, but we'd prefer to be cautious. Even in the unlikely event that we run into a showstopping problem in the design, we'll be able to address it well before December.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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