Everyone Needs A Contraption

Since I’ve been posting more of those Through the Viewfinder pictures (or at least thinking about them) again, I thought I’d finally get around to showing you the magic behind the pictures – the Contraption. I don’t exactly know why everyone calls them that, but there are a lot of these people, and “contraption” is what they all call it.  Anyway, here it is.

Full view of TtV Contraption

Want more details and pictures?  Click the link for more.

I was lucky enough to get plans to build this thing from someone with an identical camera online.  I used black matte board (it’s important that it isn’t reflective and it blocks light) and black gaffer’s tape.  The other things that matter are that it holds your camera tightly and that the overall length is just long enough so that you can focus your camera on the viewing screen of the camera below.  Use whatever lens you have with the shortest focusing distance.  A full-frame camera would really help out here, but alas, I have what I have.  Anyway, the design I built fits nicely around the protrusions and over the lenses.  The Kodak Duaflex won’t fall out even if I don’t hold any part of it.  Just the same I don’t test it too much.

TtV Contraption, Base Detail

The best way to get the length right is to lay the camera you’re going to be shooting the viewfinder of down on its side and the camera you’re going to be shooting with about a foot away.  Move it back and forth until you find the minimum distance between the two where you can focus on the viewfinder of the Duaflex (or whatever you’re using).  The distance between the two is what you need to build.

Side Detail of TtV Contraption

Mine fits tightly around my 100mm macro lens and when pushed all the way up against the body of my Canon, sits just about right.  Since you often have to make fine focus adjustments by pulling the camera up in the tube just a bit, it’s good that it’s all friction fit.

View down the barrel of the TtV contraption

As you can see, it isn’t perfect.  In actual life, it really doesn’t matter.  You’re probably going to capture a bit more than the square of the viewfinder and crop back to that, so unless you’re shooting under equatorial noon-day sun, a little light leak or two isn’t going to kill anyone.  When you pull both cameras out, this thing folds flat – still 2.5 feet long, but flat.  Another great part of the process is the looks you get when you take it out in public.  Luckily the attention has been pretty interesting and impressed so far.

It took me getting unemployed to get around to building my contraption but every time I post pictures, the response is great.  If you’ve got the inclination, find something cheap on eBay and strap whatever camera you can to it (I think even a point and shoot will work with a little tinkering).  Get going, and be sure to show me whatever you come up with!

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s

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