Laser-cut Wolcott camera
I wrote about the Wolcott mirror camera a while ago, having attended a workshop at the RPS in Bath where a full-size replica of the camera was used to make a Daguerreotype. I’ve now made my own fully-working baby Wolcott, using laser cut plywood and a few bits and bobs from eBay.
The camera designed by Alexander Wolcott was the first ever to be patented, in 1840. Unlike modern cameras, it uses a concave mirror to form the image (the same principle as a reflecting telescope). The fast aperture of the Wolcott camera considerably shortened the exposure time necessary for Daguerreotype plates, opening up the possibility of photographic portaits; indeed, Wolcott opened a portrait studio in 1840 which was probably the world’s first. For more information about the original camera see my previous post.
The camera was designed in Adobe Illustrator, although I wrote a program in Processing to produce the design for the basic box so the fiddly notches didn’t have to be drawn by hand. You can download a (zipped) Adobe Illustrator file of the design by clicking on the following link:
You will also need a concave focusing mirror with a focal length of 150 mm, which should be about 75 mm in diameter. The plans could easily be scaled to accommodate a mirror of different diameter or focal length.