Multi lens cameras…

I really like the small gem size plates and would love a multi lens gem camera but these go for silly money, when you can find them.

One like this…


Came up for sale recently and only achieved £600 at auction, they tend to sell for quite a bit more. This got me thinking maybe I could make one myself, lots of lenses, some cardboard tubes and knock something together. I then had a flash of inspiration and bought one of these…


Why I didnt think of it before I have no idea. Its a Polaroid Studio Express 402 camera, granted its for Polaroid instant film but a plate fits nicely inside the film holder.
It has 4 lenses, f8 being the fastest of three apertures with Bulb, 60th and 125th flash settings.

So today I had shot a couple of test plates to see how they would turn out. Natural lighting is getting to be an issue in the studio so these are with my artificial lights which in the end surprised me that they were putting out more light than expected or the lenses are little faster than f8???

Oh and these are about 13×9 cms.

Flowers 90 seconds at f8 Clear glass ambrotype

John B 4×60 second exposures Clear glass ambrotype

The plate of John was achieved by only exposing one lens at a time resulting in 4 separate exposures. A quick look on the internet and you can see other photographers putting this feature to good use. With better light, come spring/summer I think I might carry this camera around with my other kit, for when I’m feeling artistic like.
Also being a bulb setting you have to stand there with your finger on the trigger for the entire exposure, one of those velcro cable release adapters would do the trick, I’ll see if i can find one.

At the moment exposure times for portraits are a little too long but will be fine for everything else. Would also like to see what this is like for landscapes/architecture but the focus distance is 1.2 metres, so will have to have a go.

Heres my top spec lens caps…