I recently ordered the Konstruktor DIY Kit from Lomography. It’s billed as a $35 DIY 35mm SLR camera that you assemble yourself. As a newcomer to photography, I was immediately excited about the idea of learning the basics of the art from the ground up. Like a medieval soldier forging his own sword. But must less epic.

The packaging that the kit came in was very stylish:


Fun fact: I’m documenting the process of building an SLR with a DSLR.

The simple cardboard packaging and design was a really nice touch.


The instructions are in several different languages, ensuring that this Canadian-made product is accessible to millions of people worldwide. I can imagine this would be a wonderful tool for learning for schools that may not get the best equipment or highest funding.


The instructions, while a step up from Ikea in that they included text, were confusing at times. Some parts were mislabeled and perspectives were unclear.

The instructions promise construction in 1-2 hours. They weren’t exaggerating. If I knew exactly what I was doing, it would have taken me maybe 30 minutes. In reality, it took me about 1.5 hours. A majority of that was taking the camera apart because I had forgotten a piece that wasn’t indicated very clearly.

Don’t get me wrong. The final product is very impressive:


As a novice DSLR photographer (expert iPhone photographer), it is a little disorienting at first having to look DOWN at the camera to see a REVERSED image, but it is easy to get used to.

For the price of the kit, the quality of the physical camera you get out of it is phenomenal. I first saw Konstruktor featured on a nerdy blog. I immediately tried to purchase it but it was out of stock, no doubt due to the bump in traffic from the blog. I signed up to be notified when it was back in stock. Not even 12 hours later it was back in stock, I ordered it, and it arrived the very next week. Great experience with the website.

I certainly recommend this kit to anyone who wants to learn the serious inner workings of traditional photography.

I have yet to see the full quality of the photos it takes because I haven’t had any shots professionally developed. I followed the tutorial here from MAKE on how to make Caffinol, a homemade film developer whose primary ingredient is coffee. It seemed fitting that a DIY camera should have its film developed by a DIY developer.

The results were not as good as expected. That just means that my personal version of Caffinol needs to be tweaked to account for different ingredients, temperature, timing, etc. Here are two shots that were actually visible:


This was supposed to be a tree with the sun poking through the leaves.


This is a brick wall with a dragonfly on it. You can’t see the dragonfly, so stop trying.

With shots like this, I’m thinking about going into Bigfoot photography.