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1920s folding camera + Canon 5D = awesome

How did two very different cameras become one? With a bit of elbow grease and hot glue.

Jason Bognacki

The other day I was in a museum dedicated to environmental conservation and it had one of those old black rotary dial phones from way back when, surrounded by dozens of junked cell phones. It was trying to make the point that before manufacturers inflicted planned obsolescence on us, they made goods that would last.

Filmmaker Jason Bognacki's recent experiments with vintage cameras make that point very effectively. In case you missed it, shutterbugs have been drooling over his hybrid camera, a masterful blending of analog and digital technologies.

Bognacki took a battered old Piccolette camera from the 1920s that he bought on eBay years ago. He decided to unite it with his Canon EOS 5D Mark II by having the Piccolette act as a lens for the Canon.

"My latest curiosity has been with vintage uncoated optics and the looks those lenses produce," says the Los Angeles-based Bognacki, whose film credits include "The Red Door," a horror short. "The spirit of experimentation got the best of me and I gave it a try."

The Piccolette-Canon produced some very sharp images. Jason Bognacki

The relatively simple hack, explained in a recent post on his blog Today's Tomorrow, involved unscrewing the film back of the Piccolette, attaching an M42 extension tube and adapter with hot glue, and locking the 5D to that.

By moving the bellows on the Piccolette back and forth, Bognacki could focus the modified Canon and shoot film and video. He added a loupe when shooting for ease of use.

The results were remarkable. Check out more pics here, and the vid below, which has footage of varying contrast levels.

"I was surprised it worked and equally shocked at the quality of images that that little dusty lens produced," he says. Bognacki has modified a few other old folding cameras and is selling them on eBay.

His next projects involve adapting an old WWII aerial reconnaissance lens to modern cameras, and restoring some vintage anamorphic lenses from the 1970s.

We'll see what that project brings. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out how to get a rotary dial to work with my cell phone.

Near 100yr lens + Canon 5D - Test Footage from Jason Bognacki on Vimeo.