The Nine Lives of Film

Film? Again?

What’s going on? Another Kickstarter for a film camera? Yay! Anytime someone advances the cause of analog photography by producing new cameras or film,…I’m in. What I find curious is the constant growth of the analog movement despite the substantial headwinds of digital. My dream is that film photography will take over all the high end photographic endeavors, and digital would be relegated to news and selfies. Where it makes total sense. That was not a diss on digital anything, so save your hate mail. And I do understand my “common sense” may be another person’s “wackiness”. Oh well.




In this case we have a new technical 4×5 field camera called Chroma, built by a guy named Steve Lloyd. What’s kind of cool about Steve is he has had 4 or 5 builds already that were the result of his constant dialogue with members of the Talk Photography Forum. And still does. So the camera that was finally presented on Kickstarter has had a LOT of input. Coming on the heels of the Intrepid 8×10, it’s quite a feat.


Intrepid 8×10


The Chroma

The Chroma is a 4×5 field camera that ships with a Wista/Linhof compatible pinhole lens board and blank second lens board as part of the package. What makes it so special is the light weight to build quality ratio, resulting from using precision laser cut acrylic. Ok, why give this camera even a second thought? After all, you can get a commercially available Toyo CF at a reasonable price.


Wista 4×5 Wooden Field


Well, the camera weighs about 3.5lbs with the lens board and ground glass. Now, that’s about the same weight as the Toyo CF. But the build quality of the Toyo is suspect, and most of the weight savings unfortunately comes from plastic. And while I have not held one yet, I probably wouldn’t put it in the same class as a Linhof. However, have you seen the prices on a Linhof? Gulp. So, I’m comparing a nearly $10,000 camera with a camera I’ve never held. So, a direct comparison is probably not “fair”. It’s just shown as a jumping off point. They are both 4×5 Technical Field cameras.


Toko 4×5 Field


Layered Acrylic

That said, I wouldn’t leave a Linhof in the rain. It appears the Chroma is fairly impervious to moisture. (I certainly wouldn’t let a wooden Deardoff or Wista get exposed to excessive moisture) Also, the camera uses a new kind of attachment system that’s magnetic, providing quick swap out in the field while maintaining a secure positioning in use. (the Graflock system has been standard for many years, so this “magnetic” system would be quite radical.)


linhof master technika classic
Linhof Master Technika Classic


At the moment it comes in 9 colors! Which means you could get colors that would provide colors for ‘stealth’. Like yellow, and getting mistaken for a surveyor. Just a thought. Right now those colors are purple, gloss black, matte black, red, pink, blue, white, green and yellow. Though I’m sure any color acrylic comes in is a possibility.

                                                                 Chroma 4×5                              Linhof 4×5 Technika                              

TiltsFront: tilt only limited by lens coverage

Rear: 17 degrees backwards

Front: 30° forward and backward; 15 and 30° bed drop positions (forward tilt) with click stops
Rear: 20° forward and backward
SwingsOnly limited by lens coverageFront: 15° left and right
Rear: 20° left and right
Rise & Fall25mm55mm
Camera BackEmbedded magnetic rotating back for standard 4×5 sheet film holders and QuickLoad holders4×5 Revolving International Standard Graflok Back
Groundglass with 1cm Grid Lines and 9x12cm markings
Interchangeable BellowsProbably NoNo
Minimum Extension85mm92mm with flat lensboard
Maximum Extension300mm400 mm
LensboardThe Same?Lensboard 96 x 99mm
Dimensions7 x 13 x 9.2” 8 x 7 x 4.5″
Weight3.5lbs (1.592 kg)6.5 lbs (2.9 kg)


The cool thing is Steve Lloyd actually listens to the customer on every aspect of the camera. It’s almost like getting to talk to the head designer over at Nikon. So check out his website and Kickstarter links below for more info. Or visit the Talk Photography Forum to contribute. How far can we take this film thing, despite all the naysayers? And, by the way,…why are all the new film camera innovators British? 😁




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