Wolcott mirror camera
I have been asked to do a wet collodion demo at a RPS event in Bath in July, where a member of the historical group will also make a Daguerrotype using a reproduction of the Wolcott mirror camera. This is an interesting camera design in which the image is formed by a concave (focusing) mirror rather than a lens, giving a very fast working aperture of f/1.7. This idea was conceived as a way of shortening exposure times with the slow Daguerrotype process.
I hadn’t come across the Wolcott camera before, so I’ve decided to build one to experiment with. I tracked down the design at the US Patent office web site (it was the first ever photographic patent, in 1840). Unfortunately their site delivers images in an obscure TIFF variant that requires a special plug-in, but there is a very useful site calledwhich circumvents this and makes a nice PDF version if you type in the patent number. Enter 1582 to get the patent for the Wolcott camera. The main image from the patent is shown on the right. All you need to make one is a concave mirror and some cardboard!