I made a camera! Gakkenflex

Look at this amazing thing Charles got me for my birthday! It's a camera kit camera!

Here's a more complete blog about the magazine and all the parts. Maybe I'll upload some "making of" photos later.

This is from a Japanese magazine whose title translates as "Science for Adults". Each edition, they have a different kit to make something. The first time we were in Japan, Charles bought one that had a kit for a little air-calliope thing. It was super cute.

The magazine is in Japanese, so we couldn't actually understand too much of the instructions. The pictures were really clear so we managed without a translation. We started out with lots of little bits of plastic and screws and gradually built this camera from near scratch. It was fascinating to learn about how the shutter works. When we finished, I stuck some stickers on the outside. I could choose from this design or a woody looking one. I think this one is way cooler.

With its little hat up

I'm not sure what these bits do?

It looks like it has two lenses, but the top one is actually the viewfinder. There's a mirror that reflects the light from the viewfinder up and out the top of the camera, through a piece of foggy plastic. Looking inside the camera there's a little screen showing you the world in front of the camera. It's like looking at a movie in there!

Looking through the viewfinder at a tree in our backyard

The viewfinder and lens are two interlocking cogs, and they screw in and out of the camera. They are calibrated so that when you adjust the lens length, you also adjust the viewfinder length, and this is how you focus. I'll have to wait until my film is developed to see just how precise this focussing mechanism is.

Interlocking cogs that are the lens and viewfinder

There is no counter that tells how many photos are left, and no automatic winder. Instead, there's a knob that you wind to advance the film. We calibrated it using a trusty ol' texta before we shut the back of the camera. We found that one frame of film is worth exactly a half turn of one of the knobs. I'm sure it says that somewhere in the Japanese text, but we just figured it out ourselves. This means that you have to be careful to wind the film, or you'll get double exposures - which can be cool too!

I'll upload some photos when I develop them later. I'm so excited about my gakkenflex!

Winding knob and gague

I made a little felt case for it. Unfortunately I could only find good strong felt in a yuck brown colour, but whatever. It fits! I also tied a bit of cute ribbon onto the camera to use as a strap. It's so light I don't need a strong leather strap.

Here's a link to a youtube video about the Gakkenflex by Mijonju

Gakkenflex flickr pool


  1. oh my god, that is, without a doubt, the sweetest thing I have seen all week. I'm so jealous!

  2. That is so cool. Does it use 35mm film or 120? I hope you'll show us some pictures when you get them back!

  3. It uses 35mm, which is convenient. It's so much fun to use! The little screen makes it like watching a movie! I don't even have to take photos to make it cool.

  4. It is amazing that you made camera - it is not something a person makes every day. A camera is usually connected with a point of view, so through the creation of this camera, we can see through your lens...I like its symbolic quality. The colours on the outside texture is awesome and it adds another personal touch. :D The leather bag also complements the camera nicely. :D

  5. Thanks Heinrich, but it's not leather - it's felt.
    You certainly read into things a lot more than I ever intended! I'll show the camera to you sometime :-)

  6. Oh, okay - cool...I like felt then. :D I think that's because I love symbolism and so sometimes I over-analyse things. That would be really rad - I would love to see it. :D


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