The Konstruktor, 35mm Do-It-Yourself SLR Camera

Lomography is all about going back to the basics, about analog photography stripped down to its bare essentials without the bells and whistles fancier gear comes with. Right, you don’t want to see MTF charts of those plastic lenses, but then again, once you use a, say Konstruktor, you might be amazed by the image quality. Konstruktor? That’s the world’s first do-it-yourself 35mm SLR camera. A great rainy-afternoon or weekend project. Build your very own camera from scratch whilst learning the mechanics behind how analog photography works.

The 35mm do-it-yourself SLR Lomography Konstruktor.
The 35mm do-it-yourself SLR Lomography Konstruktor.
The Konstruktor is like Lego for the photographer. It will take some time to get used to the Hasselblad-feel camera viewer and compose because the image is reversed. Isn’t that great for low angle shots. And there’s a B shutter for night photos.

The camera that you can build in one to two hours uses a single-lens reflex vertical viewfinder (that folds completely flat), a pretty sharp F10 50mm lens with shallow depth of field and a default setting of 1/80 (with B mode for night photos), a tripod mount and, guess what, a fully interchangeable lens system. Well other “primes” come extra, but all this fun for $35 the kit, no wonder the Konstruktor is flying off the shelves.

Kids can assemble the camera — except maybe for the tiny spring, piece B9 that is responsible for the shutter popping back up after a frame is fired. Ever tried connecting it between the two plastic pins of pieces B24 and S2? But Lomography includes two of those springs, so in case you strech out one you’ll be back up and running in no time.

With a bit of dexterity this is how you’ll assemble your Konstruktor:

And maybe you want to lubricate the shutter mechanism before venturing out. Just make sure any lubricant you choose is safe for use on plastic and won’t melt your Konstruktor.

And as far as the finishing goes, in addition to a bunch of racing-stripe-looking stickers Lomography includes faux-leather pieces in red, white and black to decorate you Konstruktor, in addition to a bunch of racing-stripe-looking stickers. Well I like my cameras black.

Regarding exposure, once you loaded a roll of film — a refreshingly simple and painless process –, you might want to use a light meter app to easier get familiar with the predetermined exposure settings.

Assemble your own SLR: isn't there a Lego fantasy in every man...
Assemble your own SLR: isn’t there a Lego fantasy in every man…
Focusing is easy thanks to the magnified finer. Advancing the film is a bit of a guessing game, but who doesn’t like the surprise full or partial double exposure once in a while. And aren’t those surprises one of Lomography’s big selling point. You never really know what you get, but each and every exposure has its own charms.

Nah, the Konstruktor is not a gimmick. Despite being made of cheap plastic, this cheapo can turn out as a very capable and usable film camera.

And even with questionable edge-to-edge sharpness, lousy fps and retro Holga-looks, for a mere $35 you’re not only getting a fully functional film SLR that’s fun, the process of putting it together and the inevitable understanding of the inner workings of an SLR definitely make the Konstruktor something to please the discerning photographer who’s not averse to experiments and surprises.

Check out the Konstruktor galleries — or grab one here.