Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 2, 2013.

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Travelwide is the ultralight 4×5 film camera that goes wherever you go.

"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.

(Shown with lens and accessories; not included.)
(Shown with lens and accessories; not included.)
Ready for a weekend getaway or a walk in the park.
Ready for a weekend getaway or a walk in the park.

Travelwide 90

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.

Travelwide 65

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.

Features

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.

Pinhole? Included!

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!

Pinhole on the Travelwide 65. Not final aperture. (Light leaks due to prototyping material)
Pinhole on the Travelwide 65. Not final aperture. (Light leaks due to prototyping material)

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.

The Goal

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:


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 Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

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.

FAQ

  • On the Travelwide prototype shown, we mounted a Voigtländer 21mm viewfinder and a Blik rangefinder. 21mm on 35mm corresponds to the vertical FOV of 90mm on 4x5. The Blik rangefinder is very handy for determining focus, and they're relatively cheap and easy to find on eBay.

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  • 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. It works well!

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  • Fuji makes instant pack film (3.25 × 4.25" images), which is fun and cheap. You'll need a Polaroid 405 holder, or the Fuji PA-145 holder. The color material is FP-100C, and the B&W is FP-3000B. Unfortunately, The Impossible Project was not able to save Polaroid's 45 or pack film machines, so they will probably not be offering a 4×5 material in the near future. However, a man named Bob Crowley is working to bring an improved version of Type 55 to the market, with his New 55 Project.

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  • Yes. We have tested the Super Angulon 90mm ƒ/8 on the Travelwide 90, and it works well. However, you'll need to adjust the focus marker using the enclosed instructions, and the minimum focus distance will increase. We can't test every lens, but any 90mm ƒ/8 will probably work, and based on data we've found, the larger ƒ/6.8 lenses should work too. The Super Angulon 90mm ƒ/5.6 is not recommended.

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  • Because the Travelwide 65 is fixed focus, it's more difficult to adapt to other lenses. You may be able to use a different lens, but it could require shimming, spacers or sanding down the lens board. But hey, this camera is cheap and fun, so give it a try!

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  • No, unfortunately this would increase the cost of the camera by too much. Luckily, film holders can be easily found in the used market, and only cost between $5-15 depending on age and condition. Each holder will take two sheets of film.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    11 backers

    One 16x20" print from a Travelwide photo. Choose from any image on this page, or our Flickr stream.

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    25 backers All gone!

    One Travelwide 90 body, without lens. SUPER early bird special: $49 instead of $99! This camera is designed for the Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8, which is not included.

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    25 backers All gone!

    One Travelwide 90 body, without lens. Early bird special: $69 instead of $99! This camera is designed for the Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8, which is not included.

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    678 backers

    One Travelwide 90 body, without lens. This camera is designed for the Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8 lens, which is not included.

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    80 backers

    One fixed focus Travelwide 65 body, without lens. This camera is designed for the ultra-wide Schneider Super Angulon 65mm ƒ/8, which is not included.

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    157 backers

    Two cameras: one Travelwide 90 (body only) and one Travelwide 65 (body only). If you want both versions of the Travelwide, this is the reward for you!

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  • Pledge $299 or more
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    10 backers All gone!

    One Travelwide 90 package, with Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8 lens. Condition of the lens will be "User" grade, not collector grade. NOT EX+ or Mint, just a good Wanderlust-approved lens you can use to make fantastic images with your Travelwide 90.

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    4 backers All gone!

    One Travelwide 65 package, with the ultra-wide Schneider Super Angulon 65mm ƒ/8 lens. Condition of the lens will be "User" grade, not collector grade. NOT EX+ or Mint, just a good Wanderlust-approved lens you can use to make fantastic images with your Travelwide 65.

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  • Pledge $999 or more
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    Chicago / New York photo walk! We will hand-deliver a Travelwide 90 or 65 to you in Chicago or New York, and then take you on a photo walk. We'll spend a few hours shooting, then take you out for lunch. You'll get one-on-one tips and techniques, and the opportunity to ask us anything. (This reward is for meetups in Chicago or New York only, and may involve one or both of us depending on availability)

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    Photo intensive, anywhere! Justin or Ben will hand-deliver a Travelwide 90 or 65 to you anywhere in the world, and spend a day or two shooting with you and/or your friends. You'll get tons of one-on-one coaching with the Travelwide. We'll come to your home town, or we're happy to meet you in Tahiti, Vienna, or any destination you like. This is a travel camera, after all!

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    For 10K, Justin and Ben will fly out and consult with you about your dream camera, adapter, or photo accessory. If it's within reason, we'll draft it up in CAD and make you a one-off using 3D printing or CNC. Or if you would prefer, we can put together a multi-day photo workshop, covering the entire large format workflow—we'll do a Travelwide photo walk with you, then move on to scanning, dust busting, retouching / post production, and finally printing.

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Funding period

- (30 days)