The Intrepid Camera Company

Back in August my friend Steve, who is also a keen film photographer, decided to visit me in Brighton for the day.

We try and meet up every few months and have a ‘photography themed’ day together. More recently I have met up with him in London but now I felt it was my turn to arrange a day with our film camera’s out in Brighton.

Steve had recently been talking about large format photography and how he was possibly considering buying a vintage large format camera.

This got me thinking about The Intrepid Camera Company in Brighton who produce brand new large format cameras at an affordable price.

Since I heard about Intrepid Camera last year through my film photography journey, I knew at some point I would possibly consider blogging about them, especially as they are based in my hometown of Brighton!

However, if I’m completely honest, the thought of large format photography scared me. From what I’d researched, it seemed to me that so many mistakes could be made and I didn’t quite understand it fully.

Anyway, since Steve was visiting, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to arrange a visit to their workshop and he could see what they were currently doing in the world of large format photography.

In the first instance, I contacted The Intrepid Camera Company about the possibility of visiting them with the intention of learning more about what they do and blogging about it.

I spoke to Max on the phone who was very happy to have Steve and I visit them. He was also very supportive of me blogging about their company and taking my own photos. I decided to take my Olympus Pen FT camera and flash as I would be using it indoors. I also knew I wanted to take colour photos, so I used the Portra 160 colour film, which I think works quite well with the flash.

I decided to surprise Steve and not tell him about our visit until he arrived in Brighton. Thankfully he was very happy about our plans for the day.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by Max who introduced us to Naomi who is in charge of The Intrepid Camera’s digital communications and branding:

Naomi taken on my Olympus Pen FT

Naomi made us both feel extremely welcome and gave us a tour of the workshop. She was also very helpful whilst I asked as many questions as I could think of about large format photography and a walk through of their camera’s since I really was completely clueless about how it all worked! Steve had a better understanding than me and was also able to help me out with some of the questions.

We got the opportunity to see the whole team in action, doing their various parts to make the camera, which was really exciting to see.

Naomi told me that they sustainably source high quality Birch Plywood from a supplier in Worthing.

Once the wooden camera frames are cut, they are then weather sealed with a plant based wax/oil and here is a photo I took of the wall where they hang all the wooden frames to dry once they’ve treated them:

I also learnt that Intrepid Camera do their own 3D printing for most of the plastic parts using PLA filament derived from plant starch.

The coloured bellows are made from Nylon with a special super-thin lightproof coating inside and they have a special laser machine to make the folds:

I also saw a large metal dish with what looked like water on the floor and I was curious to know what it was for. Naomi explained to me that the dish was used for grinding the glass. 

There are several parts to a large format camera and these parts are purchased separately.

First of all there is the actual camera shell with the glass focusing screen and Intrepid Camera sell two types:

  1. Intrepid 4×5 MK 4
  2. Intrepid 8×10 MK 2

As far as I understand, since the original model, there have been some improvements as they’ve tested and listened to customer feedback over the past few years since they began.

I asked intrepid if they plan to make any further changes to the Intrepid 4×5 since this is now their 4th version. They told me how they were really happy with all the tweaks they had made to the current model and couldn’t foresee changing anything further on this camera anytime soon.

You also need to add extras to be able to take a photo and some of these items can be purchased through Intrepid Camera. These include a lens board (there are three types depending on the Copal size of lens used), a film holder (to place the film in for taking the photo) and 4×5 or 8×10 film.

One final important thing that you need to purchase to make the camera work (which Intrepid Camera do not supply) is the actual Lens. The lenses need to have a Copal style shutter to enable them to work with this camera. Plus, you would need a shutter cable for taking the photo.

As you can probably already tell, this isn’t a ‘technical’ blog and further information regarding specifics of the camera and lenses etc can be found on The Intrepid Camera Company website.

I’d always associated large format cameras as being really heavy (just by looking at them!) so was really surprised when I held the 4×5 camera and realised just how light weight it was even with a lens attached!

However, it felt sturdy in my hand and not at all flimsy so I have every confidence that on a decent tripod, it would still work ok in windy weather (which is quite common in Brighton).

Naomi showed me how you would load the film back, how it would attach to the camera, how you would check the lens then close it again before removing the dark slide to take the photo.

Once I had been walked through the process by someone in person, it suddenly didn’t feel like such a scary camera to use.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a fair few things you require for this camera and the process in set up and taking a photo alone is not for the faint hearted!

The film backs take two 4×5 or 8×10 photos (depending on the film back you purchase) and the sets that Intrepid Camera sell come in packs of two which means that you would potentially get 4 shots on an outing, unless you were feeling more extravagant and wanted a few more film backs. Alternatively you could bring a film changing bag with you, and remove/reload whilst on location!

The film is quite expensive (prices seem to start from approx. £1 per sheet upwards depending on the film type) so there is again, that apprehension of messing up the film whilst starting out and not getting any decent shots.

However, after looking at example photos that had been taken on the camera, I was absolutely blown away by the amount of detail in them!

I thought my medium format photos were detailed but this is a whole other level! I can see why all that hard work of camera set up etc would definitely be worth it!

The best thing about the 4×5 camera is that it could be put in a rucksack and taken on a hike if landscape photography is your thing.

Lastly, I was also impressed by the price. I always associated large format cameras as being very expensive, even second hand ones. If I was to go online at the time of typing this blog and purchase the 4×5 Camera, film holder and lens board, it would cost me approx. £405.00. I personally think this is an achievable goal to save for and buy. Admittedly, you also need to consider purchasing a lens and probably some other items (such as a tripod) that aid taking photos in large format but still, I think the price is extremely achievable. I love the fact the camera is brand new so less risk of things going wrong like with a vintage large format camera. I also like the fact that you have the security of help and support from an active company.

Whilst also there, I noticed that some timers were being assembled which looked really cool with their coloured buttons and wooden casing.

When I asked what they were for I was told that they also sell Enlarger Kits, which are designed to be used with the 4×5 camera and you can buy different size negative frames (4×5, 35 and 120) which I thought was great.

I vaguely remember the enlarger kits being on Kickstarter last year but at that point, I was still really new to learning about darkroom photography, plus I didn’t own one of their camera’s so I didn’t back it.

The enlarger style has been really well thought out in my opinion and although they were unable to give me a demonstration of using the enlarger in the workshop, I subsequently watched one of their videos on their website after my visit and I was very impressed by the image quality of the print from something so compact which I wasn’t expecting at all.

My mate Steve took some great photos during our visit on his Leica M4 camera using Ilford HP5 film which he pushed to 3200 and he has kindly given me permission to share them:

© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography
© Steve Jackson Photography

I’d highly recommend checking out Steve’s Instagram @stevejackson_photography where you can see more of his photos.

If you had asked me prior to my visit if I’d ever consider doing large format photography, I would most likely have said no because it seemed too complicated to me and I’m not good at carrying heavy equipment around.

However, since my visit and after more research I’m totally smitten. Needless to say, I’ll be ordering a 4×5 Intrepid Camera and all the necessary accessories.

At the point of writing this blog, I believe the current waiting time is 6-8 weeks. All of their cameras are hand assembled and the parts are manufactured in-house or locally so this is the time it takes them to produce a camera and keep up with the demand.

I’ve since purchased a lens which I shall blog about in the future when I get the camera.

I’m also considering purchasing the enlarger kit since it seems that this particular enlarger wouldn’t take up much room and I also love the fact this enlarger isn’t restricted to one negative type.

Here is a link to The Intrepid Camera Company website where you can find out loads of information about their cameras and the world of large format photography!

Using the Ilford HP5 Plus Black and White 120mm film with my Lubitel 166B

Since I really loved the previous black and white photos I had taken using my Lubitel 166B, I thought I would try out the Ilford HP5 Plus film as it’s a very easy film to get hold of in a few of my local shops in Brighton.

The more I use the camera, the more I continue to love it. Since my last blog, I’ve now discovered how to focus the photo properly by using the attached magnifying glass in the viewfinder and looking at the central circle in the viewfinder.

I also thought I’d test out the eye level viewfinder on the camera which is a small square in the plastic at the top so you don’t actually look into the picture part of the camera. Here are two photos I took using this method of shooting:

I didn’t feel that using the little square viewfinder gave an accurate image of  what I inevitably shot so I know I definitely prefer using the actual picture viewfinder and mainly shooting from the hip.

It was a cloudy, windy day in Brighton and the waves were immense. I wanted to capture this as best I could using the Lubitel and here are the results:

I wasn’t sure when taking the photos if I was going to find them boring once developed but I do really like them. Again for me, I just really like the style of photo this camera produces.

Testing out the Diana Multi Pinhole Operator by Lomography

This camera was a bit of an impulse buy because Lomography had slashed 50% off the normal retail price on a random Monday several weeks back so it cost me £24.50 rather than the usual £49.00.

Although my Diana F+ camera has a pinhole shooting option, I was drawn to this camera because of the different colour filters it comes with so thought it would be a fun camera to try out.

Also, I had never tried out pinhole photography before so thought this would be a good starting point.

I really like the yellow colour of the camera and it is plastic and lightweight like the Diana F+. It also takes 120mm film as it’s designed to be shot in medium format. However, there are two frames provided with the camera to take 16 small square shots (4.2×4.2cm) and endless panorama (4.6×4.6cm) both on a 16 shot setting instead of the normal 12 shots if you didn’t use the frames.

The camera is fully manual so there is no lens or shutter. You can select how many pinholes you want by moving the switch under the front barrel. You can choose between one, two or three pinholes.

To take a photo, you need to open the pinholes and close them when enough light has gone onto the negative using the switch on the left of the barrel. You push the switch down to let light in and up to stop the light from coming in.

Lomography recommend that you use a tripod if you want to avoid blurry images. There is also an option to attach a flash (although this wasn’t included with the camera).

I was very excited about testing out this camera and have a flimsy travel tripod which is fine for such a light camera as this.

Out of all the filters provided, I only really like the orange and pink ones the most as the other colour combinations don’t really appeal to me that much. There are three filters that are designed for the two pinhole option and three filters that are designed for the three pinhole option.

I decided that I was going to test this camera out on the beach opposite where I live. Unfortunately I hadn’t really thought about the fact it was a very windy day and since the camera and tripod I was using were so light, it did have a tendency to blow about.

Also, the colour filters are very small and flimsy. Lomography recommend storing the filters in a 35mm film canister and even provide little round stickers to label it.

However, when using the camera for the first time, I took out the original packaging with me and as I was taking out the filters on the windy beach, two of the filters flew out of the packaging (aaaarrrrhhh!).

Searching for them amongst the pebbles was literally like looking for a needle in a haystack. After searching the surrounding area for approx 20 minutes, I never found those two filters and had to admit defeat which was extremely frustrating.

On the plus side the two filters I lost were of colours that I didn’t really like so would probably never really used them anyway. However, I was still annoyed that my camera was no longer a complete set, especially on it’s first use!

I used the Lomography Colour 400 Iso 120mm film in the camera.

I tried to keep the tripod as still as possible to avoid as much blur as I could. Here is a photo I took on the one pinhole option with no filters:

 Here are some photos I took using the colour filters which are best used with the two pinhole option, again using a tripod:

Finally, here are the photos I took using the three pinhole option on the camera with the colour filters:

Overall, I think the photos are quite fun and I like the colours. I prefer the three pinhole option the most because I think the colours on the filters blend better together.

Sadly, as I found this camera quite fiddly and time consuming to use, it isn’t a camera that I’ll use regularly. It will be used as and when I have specific artistic style photography shoots in mind.

In view of this, I think £49.00 would have been too much for me to pay for the camera. Although at £24.50 I think that price was reasonable for how many times I’ll use this camera in a year.

Here is a link to where you can purchase the camera online in the UK:

Shooting the new Dubble Film Jelly 35mm film with my Pentax K1000 Camera

I love experimenting with out of the ordinary colour films so was keen to try out the recently released ‘Jelly’ film from Dubble Film which I purchased from Zoing Image in Brighton.

The 35mm film has an ISO of 200 and from the sample photos I saw it gives a rainbow colour effect. Dubble Film state that results of the photos will vary depending on shooting conditions.

I decided to try this film out in my Pentax K1000 camera. I also knew that I wanted a circular fisheye effect. Now, I could have just done this in my Lomography Fisheye No. 2 camera but I wanted some control over the exposure which I knew I’d be able to do in my Pentax. This is because from previous experience of using Dubble Film’s Bubblegum film, I know that it had been best to over expose that particular film and I may have struggled to do this in the Lomography camera since I don’t have actual control of aperture and shutter speed except for cloudy/sunny option.

I also have a circular fisheye lens for my Pentax K1000, which I attach to my 28mm lens on the camera.

The reason I decided on using a fisheye effect lens was because I knew the film is pre-treated so the rainbow effect would show up on all of it and not just the circular photo. Normally the area around the actual circular photo is black when I take a picture so I thought it would be interesting to see what colour effects would show up on the black area.

I figured this style of film would be best suited to landscape style shots rather than of actual people so I decided to shoot a test roll on the beach where I live.

One key thing to remember about this film is that it only has 24 exposures. I had recently been shooting a lot of 36 exposure film so I completely forgot this when merrily shooting away and it meant that I missed out on some photos I had wanted to take because I thought I had another 12 exposures left to use.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film but it certainly did give a rainbow colour effect and I think it worked well on the beach. Here are some of the photos:


International Film Swap

Through my blog  I was recently contacted by International Film Swap Group and asked if I would like to join in taking pictures on a roll of film, then posting it to somebody in their community in a another part of the world who would reshoot the film and get the film processed to create some cross country double exposures.

I was really interested to see what effects the photos would have if I did this via their group so I immediately agreed.

After agreeing, I was contacted via email from one of their member’s called Mathias who is based in Stockholm, Sweden. His instagram page is @haexes if you’d like to check out his work.

He suggested that I shoot a colour roll of 35mm film that I would then post to him and he would flip the roll and re-shoot it to produce a red scale fusion effect.

I had never heard of flipping a roll of film before to create this effect so again, I found this really interesting and was really looking forward to seeing the results.

After some further discussion with Mathias on what type of colour film would work  for the red scale effect, I decided to use Fujifilm X-TRA Superia 400 35mm film.

I shot the film using my Pentax K1000 camera as I knew this particular camera would allow me to shoot the film at ISO 800. I had wanted to double the ISO from the original 400 since the film was going to be double exposed.

Mathias used his Olympus Trip 35 camera for the re-shooting of the film.

We had both agreed from the beginning that I was not going to give particular details of each shot I had taken as we wanted the finished photos to be more free style. Instead, I gave Mathias a brief overview of where I had taken my shots which I confirmed were of Brighton Beach and some other sites nearby such as the West Pier, a statue and the I360 along with a couple of flower shots to create a bit of a mixture.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when Mathias developed and scanned the film except I knew it would probably look quite creative and very lomography-esq since part of the exposure would be of a red scale type of photo which would create a fire effect.

Today I received the scanned photos from Mathias and I was really impressed with the images we had managed to combine on the film.

Here are a few of my favourite images we took:


We’ve decided to do a further film swap together, this time using black and white film. Mathias will be shooting the film first then he will pass it onto me to re-shoot and I will get the film developed and scanned.

I’d be interested to know what other people’s opinions are of the double exposures. Do you like them? or is it something you wouldn’t want to do in your own photography?

If anybody reading this blog post is interested in doing a film swap with me, please contact me as it really is great fun to do.

Olympus Pen EE

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a few days off work and on one of the days we decided to have a walk around the lanes in Brighton with our dog.

I needed to pop to one of our local shops, Zoing Image in Sydney Street as I was after some Cinestill 800 film to practice some night time shots using my Pentax K1000 (blog to follow on this).

As well as the unusual film selection that Zoing Image stock, they also sell a selection of second hand cameras. Every time I visit, there are always a new selection of secondhand cameras to choose from so I love to browse.

Whilst my husband isn’t really into photography, he always takes a keen interest in any camera I buy and was extremely fascinated by my Olympus Pen FT half frame camera and the quality of images it produces.

I think this is what led him to noticing the Olympus Pen EE Camera in the cabinet for sale.

He told me he was instantly drawn to the size and grey colour of the camera. Once I explained to him it was an automatic half frame camera he wanted to have a look at it in more detail. He absolutely loved the tiny viewfinder window and the feel of it in his hands so we bought it along with some Kodak Colour Plus 200 35mm film and loaded it in the shop there and then so we could take some photos of our day around Brighton.

In some ways, this camera is similar to the Olympus Trip where a red flasher will pop up in the viewfinder if the image is too bright or dull and won’t expose correctly. This took some getting use to for my husband as he tried to take several shots where this happened.

The film number counts back from 72 to 0. The lens is a D Zuiko f/3.5 (4 element) with a focal length of 28mm.

I already knew the lens would be of good quality from my experience of using Zuiko lenses on my Olympus Pen FT.

A great edition to this camera in the shop was the fact it also came with a UV lens which screwed into the middle of the camera:

The shutter was quite small so could be hard find by feel when taking a picture:

I solved this problem when I got home by adding a metal shutter button which definitely made taking pictures easier:

The camera also came with an Olympus lens cap although I don’t think it’s the original as I think they have EE written on them.

The camera unfortunately didn’t come with the original case or wrist strap but the shop were kind enough to provide me with a small black case which was in great condition. Also I know that the original olympus cases for this camera can deteriorate over time as the plastic outer coating of the case tends to flake off. Thankfully I had a grey wrist strap at home which had originally been for my Panasonic TZ70 digital camera which I’d never used as I prefer to use a leather neck strap with that particular camera. Personally, I would never use a neck strap with the Olympus Pen EE due to it being so lightweight (12.5 ounces).

I’ve also since purchased a skylight filter for the camera which I picked up for a couple of pounds on eBay.

I was surprised how quickly my husband and I were able to get through 72 frames over two days but with a point and shoot style camera I don’t really think so much about the image since it’s automatically focused (unlike my Olympus Pen FT where I spend much more time thinking about the image I’m taking and what lens to use etc).

Here is a little selection of pictures we took:

I got the film developed at Moorfields Photographic in Liverpool as they have the half frame developing equipment which means that each image is exposed correctly rather than a compromise of exposure between two images as would occur at a normal lab with standard 35mm equipment.

Overall I was happy with the quality of the images and was what I expected from the Zuiko lens. I also liked the vintage feel of the photos. The sharpness was a little hit and miss at times since it’s automatic with only one lens type.

I will always prefer my Olympus Pen FT because of the gorgeous crispness I get with that camera along with the variety of lenses I can use for a particular shot.

However, if out and about in a rush and if I’ve only got a little handbag on me during the daytime then I would happily put this little camera in my bag and use it for the day.

It’s also handy for my husband to use when we’re out and about as he’s not so keen on all the time that can be spent perfecting a shot using a heavier SLR Camera 📷