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zhorton
4-Jun-2016, 21:04
Dear LF community,

I am very pleased to announce a camera system that has been two years in the making: The Mercury: the world's first universal camera. It is a fully modular, open system that can accept nearly any lens (view camera lenses, obviously, but also medium format system lenses for those of that persuasion). The back adapter can be swapped to shoot medium format (especially Graflok 23), large format (currently 4x5, but hopefully larger formats as well in the future). Modular front lens spacers, tubes, and helical focusing units allow many different sorts of lenses to be adapted. A modular focus scale and DOF scale system allows any lens to have these features, for handheld shooting (rangefinder or zone focusing). Focus scales are available in both feet and meters. The LF configuration utilizes a Graflok 45 back adapter, so it can accept any compatible 4x5 accessory, including Grafmatics, 6x12 roll film holders, Polaroid backs of all stripes, etc. We're also going to release a Belair Instax Wide Graflok back. I designed this to be the most versatile hand-held large format camera ever made, while still being compact, very light, and inexpensive. This is a camera that can travel with you, and accept most of your large format gear easily. Only a few truly light and portable large format cameras have ever been made, and they have all (to the best of my knowledge) been plagued by "special purpose" status: designed only for a single lens, a certain type of film holder, etc. The Mercury can be extended and adapted to do just about anything. I'm hoping to generate a large user community that will continue to innovate new uses and components for the system, so that it will grow far into the future.

I launched the Kickstarter today. The idea is to raise the capital necessary to create the molds we need for high-quality and high-volume main body parts. Small specialty parts will be 3D printed. This system is only made possible through a combination of the the two manufacturing processes.

This community is particularly important to me, and I welcome any and all thoughts that you may have. Please check out the Kickstarter campaign here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/294564710/mercury-the-worlds-first-universal-camera

www.mercurycamera.com

Please consider backing. Thank you!

Regards,
Zach

rich815
4-Jun-2016, 21:15
Neat Kickstarter. Good luck.

Ken Lee
5-Jun-2016, 04:02
Tilt/shift/swing/rise/fall ?

Bob Salomon
5-Jun-2016, 06:31
Gee, a second Mercury camera. Do you have any relationship to the original Mercury cameras in the 50s?

Pfsor
5-Jun-2016, 07:01
Although very interested in the concept, bad fuzzy pictures of the camera p...ed me off almost immediately. Sorry.

Randy Moe
5-Jun-2016, 07:13
Spent a lot of time studying the offer. Can you make an offer for only the Mercury Grafloc 2x3 Instax wide back?

Your promo movie is very well done!

Pfsor
5-Jun-2016, 07:32
A very disappointing video! Care to say about the front and back spacers necessary to accommodate different focal length lenses? Is it psychiatry or a camera concept you wanted to present in the video? Sorry but p...ed of for a 2nd time.

Dan Fromm
5-Jun-2016, 07:42
Would you please show us the thing with a 4x5 back?

Until I see that, what I see is a knockoff of an Alpa 12. Or of a Mamiya Press/Super 23/Universal or Graflex XL with no RF. 2x3, not LF. And, oh yeah, hype.

plywood
5-Jun-2016, 08:02
Go for it Zach. However.
Review carefully the Wanderlust Travelwide KS campaign of recient memory.
When the delays and unexpected problems come, and they will, do you promise to communicate fully and honestly and promptly with the backers? Not just the good news, but the bad news too? The backers will have basically two types of questions. Technical and engineering questions and timeline to delivery questions. It is important to be prepared to spend the time necessary to keep ahead of this aspect of your KS campaign. That, much more than any technical expertise or cute introduction videos will inform the success or failure of your campaign.

zhorton
5-Jun-2016, 14:46
Hi Pfsor, I thought the photos were clear enough, but perhaps the resolution that Kickstarter displays them at is a bit inadequate. There are many more photos on the official site (still in beta here (www.mercurycamera.com)). But I've now added a full gallery on Flickr that you can view at much higher resolution, here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/101070279@N03/albums/72157668498778550). :)

Jac@stafford.net
5-Jun-2016, 14:52
The Kickstart photos just plain suck. I would think that someone proposing a camera product could make more presentable images. I've other reservations regarding the project, but they have been presented and I'm sure more will follow.
.

zhorton
5-Jun-2016, 14:55
Ken, the basic body that has been initially developed doesn't have movements, but because the camera is modular, that is a definite possibility for the future if there is demand!

Bob, no relation to the old '50s Mercury! I knew someone would be sharp enough to mention that one! ;)

Randy, thanks for your comment on the movie! We wanted to do something very different that would explore the idea of a universal camera. We will also post some simple videos going over the camera in more detail in the coming weeks. Yes, I'd be willing to do a custom pledge for just the Graflok 23 Instax Wide back. Just message me via Kickstarter.

Dan, check out either of the galleries I linked to in my above post for more photos of the 4x5 back. There was only so much we could cram into the Kickstarter page! I'll add this, though: our prototypes are all 3D printed, and the 4x5 back doesn't print very well due to its shape, size, and design. The final version will be molded; hence the need of a Kickstarter campaign in the first place. But the photos will definitely give you a good idea of the design.

Jac@stafford.net
5-Jun-2016, 15:02
Can you share the market-share research? IMHO, there is not a sufficient market. You can live eating beans and rice while your customers enjoy steak, and eventually you starve to death.
.

Pfsor
5-Jun-2016, 15:02
Hi Pfsor, I thought the photos were clear enough, but perhaps the resolution that Kickstarter displays them at is a bit inadequate. There are many more photos on the official site (still in beta here (www.mercurycamera.com)). But I've now added a full gallery on Flickr that you can view at much higher resolution, here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/101070279@N03/albums/72157668498778550). :)

Not interested any more. Sorry again.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
5-Jun-2016, 15:06
The objection to the images of your camera is not (I think) resolution, but selective focus and too much contrast.

zhorton
5-Jun-2016, 15:18
Dear All, thank you for your interest and questions so far! I'm happy to address anything that comes up here. As I said at the outset, this is a fabulous community and your input is very important to the project.

Plywood brought up the Travelwide and the question of transparency and communication, so I want to address that directly. First, I am completely familiar with the problems that plagued that project, both technical and with regard to communication. Here's how we will avoid both of them. I think the technical problems were largely a result of launching too soon, before extensive testing had been completed. I can say that we have been working on the Mercury for two years, and I'm only launching the Kickstarter now that I feel confident that the system works and works well. I've tested every format it can shoot on, and tested over 50 lenses. Numerous re-designs have taken place. The complexity of a universal camera is not making a basic design, but designing an entire ecosystem of parts that all work well with each other, and with the existing equipment out there. The other big issue is materials and manufacturing. Certain parts are better off 3D printed than injection molded, and vice versa. For instance, injection molding a helical focusing device is, in my opinion, a major risk. It really brought down the Travelwide project. We are only planning to injection mold one of the pieces from our focus unit; the rest will be 3D printed. This adds a lot of time and expense, but is worth it to get a fully functioning device. On the other hand, the main body panels don't print well and are designed to be injection molded for a number of reasons. All along, I have designed the system to be a hybrid between these two methods of manufacture. We get the advantages of injection molding for the big parts that take the most stress, and the advantage of being able to change dimensions on the fly for 3D printed parts. This means that we can absorb slight variances in molded parts by changing the printed parts slightly. This is the key, in my opinion, to reducing the risks of the project as a whole. All of this has been carefully thought out. We are also avoiding straying from what we know and do best. We will not be attempting to make ground glass, etc. Instead, we source parts were needed and integrate them into our own designs.

Nonetheless, it is true that unexpected events will occur, and there will be setbacks. We are 100% committed to being fully open, transparent, and communicative about problems and difficulties we face. This is not only the right thing to do when it comes to crowdfunding, but also key to the heart of the Mercury's mission. This is not meant to make a profit; my great hope is to create a camera system outside of the corporate world, that can serve as a platform for creative work in both camera design, hardware hybrids, and photography itself. Most of all, I want to see a camera system that has a passionate, engaged community of folks who want to do strange things with their camera, who want to actively contribute to its further development, and who want to share their camera adventures. This is what drove me to embark on this crazy quest, and that's why I want to share it with others of a like mind.

This camera can be whatever you want it to be, but only if a community comes together. I pledge to help catalyze this community as best I can, and that means complete transparency and communication. I hope that you will join us!

Regards,
Zach

zhorton
5-Jun-2016, 15:34
Can you share the market-share research? IMHO, there is not a sufficient market. You can live eating beans and rice while your customers enjoy steak, and eventually you starve to death.
.

Jac, thanks for your comments. Mercury Works is a collective, not a company, and our mission is to contribute something to the world of photography, not turn a profit. That's why we're creating the first fully open camera system; no corporation has ever bothered to do it, because it is not the way to make money in the photography business, which is driven by purpose-build, all-in-one devices with build in obsolescence and system lock in. I wanted to create an alternative: a camera system where control rests in the users' hands, where anyone can modify parts and extent its capabilities. Where the goal is to be as compatible with as many different brands and eras of equipment as possible rather than trying to get someone to buy compatible devices. Because we are doing this for the love of it, and for ethical and philosophical reasons, we didn't do any market research. ;) You may well be right that there isn't a sufficient market. If that's the case, we'll probably pare down our goals and release something more modest. But I wanted to try to create the system exactly as I envisioned it, and that's the target at what this Kickstarter aims. So yeah, we can't compete in publicity with for-profit camera corporations. I'm sorry about that. But we are certainly committed to making something really excellent!

IanG
5-Jun-2016, 16:39
This appears to be an alternative to existing and quite similar Chinese cameras from Gaoersi and Fotoman, (and others before that). I can't see anything new or innovative, the so called LF back is using non standard slotted film holders and there's talk of cutting 5x4 film to fit.

A Crown Graphic can do all these cameras offer and has basic movements, can take interchangeable lenses etc, and would be cheaper.

I find the Video is actually quite disturbing, it's quite slick and not the usual Kickstarter quality, it's counter intuitive to being a collective because it's so false. Overall it doesn't garner trust.

Ian

Tim Meisburger
5-Jun-2016, 17:24
Dear Zach,

I'm not really interested in going further down the track of handheld cameras, but did want to say I fully support your initiative. I find all the naysayers odd, and rude. If they are not interested, why even comment? I think this camera will appeal especially to medium format shooters, and young hipsters and hackers into experimental photography; and expect it to be a gateway drug into the world of large format. I applaud any initiative that seeks to expand the number of people using and enjoying film. I think that is good for all of us, so

Bravo!

Best, Tim

rich815
5-Jun-2016, 19:54
Dear Zach,

I'm not really interested in going further down the track of handheld cameras, but did want to say I fully support your initiative. I find all the naysayers odd, and rude. If they are not interested, why even comment? I think this camera will appeal especially to medium format shooters, and young hipsters and hackers into experimental photography; and expect it to be a gateway drug into the world of large format. I applaud any initiative that seeks to expand the number of people using and enjoying film. I think that is good for all of us, so

Bravo!

Best, Tim

I'll +1 that.

Randy Moe
5-Jun-2016, 20:25
@Zhorton I PM u tom.

I am xited bout "Graflok 23 Instax Wide back".

I know a guy who tried hand process Instax. No go! I have the samples here. LOL

plywood
5-Jun-2016, 21:45
Zach, thanks for your reply to my concerns. Not sure whether I will back or not but the helical looks interesting and might be worth the 2x3 backer option. I have a good friend, he is a just retired machinist and last year, when I showed him the Travelwide project and noted the problems they were having with the molded helical his comment was that he would have machined the helical out of plastic. He was quite confident he could get a good fit. Now perhaps being in the business for 40 years he sees every problem as machining problem but could that be a viable option? Even when 'finished' the Travelwide helical was too tight. I had to disassemble mine and work down the 4 lateral ridges spaced at 90 degrees around the helical with fine sandpaper before the helical was useable. That's fine for me, I'm an inveterate tinkerer. But some folks who backed a camera would have no idea what to do to fix a too tight helical. I'm fairly sure that inquires to Wanderlust Cameras would get the same response as did many questions asked in the Travelwide thread. IOW......

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 03:16
the so called LF back is using non standard slotted film holders and there's talk of cutting 5x4 film to fit

Hi Ian, sorry for any confusion about this. The LF back is the Graflok standard, which is about as universal as LF gets, and thus can take any Graflok accessory. It definitely takes standard 4x5 film. :) It can also take standard sheet film holders, though they need to be pressed against the back with either a small adapter we're developing, a rubber band, your hand, etc. I've shot 4x5 sheet film without anything pressing, as it is a snug fit, and it worked out fine. I decided to go with Graflok instead of just a spring for sheet film holders because I thought that would be more useful for more purposes overall. It is easy to get sheet film holders to work on a Graflok back, but not the other way around. ;)

One thing that may be confusing is that this camera can also shoot medium format Graflok 23. I think we mentioned being able to cut down 4x5 film to that format for exotic stocks. But these backs follow the international standard, and film does not need to be cut down.

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 03:26
I am xited bout "Graflok 23 Instax Wide back".


Hi Randy, I know that Instax is not everyone's cup of tea (and many of us are still in deep mourning over the discontinuation of Fuji's peel apart instant films), but I've gotta say that it is really fun to shoot! So I hear you, brother. That particular back (which can be viewed briefly in the Kickstarter film and which was used to shoot the Instax Wide photos that appear there), adapted from Lomography's Belair Instant Back, is pretty difficult to construct (it wasn't easy getting that large of a frame to fit a medium format back; our Graflok 45 version allowed for more breathing room from an engineering standpoint), and thus I decided to leave it off of our already crowded Kickstarter. But we'll make them available soon, and I'll make sure you get one!

jnanian
6-Jun-2016, 03:31
Dear Zach,

I'm not really interested in going further down the track of handheld cameras, but did want to say I fully support your initiative. I find all the naysayers odd, and rude. If they are not interested, why even comment? I think this camera will appeal especially to medium format shooters, and young hipsters and hackers into experimental photography; and expect it to be a gateway drug into the world of large format. I applaud any initiative that seeks to expand the number of people using and enjoying film. I think that is good for all of us, so

Bravo!


Best, Tim

+2

good luck with your project !!

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 03:42
Zach, thanks for your reply to my concerns. Not sure whether I will back or not but the helical looks interesting and might be worth the 2x3 backer option. I have a good friend, he is a just retired machinist and last year, when I showed him the Travelwide project and noted the problems they were having with the molded helical his comment was that he would have machined the helical out of plastic. He was quite confident he could get a good fit. Now perhaps being in the business for 40 years he sees every problem as machining problem but could that be a viable option? Even when 'finished' the Travelwide helical was too tight. I had to disassemble mine and work down the 4 lateral ridges spaced at 90 degrees around the helical with fine sandpaper before the helical was useable. That's fine for me, I'm an inveterate tinkerer. But some folks who backed a camera would have no idea what to do to fix a too tight helical. I'm fairly sure that inquires to Wanderlust Cameras would get the same response as did many questions asked in the Travelwide thread. IOW......

Yep, our brilliant engineer Andrew worked out our helical issues, and we ruled out injection molding for that part (or rather, multiple parts) from the beginning. Tolerances are just too tight to expect something injection molded to work perfectly, unless you have endless time and money to keep making mold after mold until it is perfect. You are right: helicals can indeed be machined, and that's the usual practice for metal. Would it work for plastic? Yes, I think so. The problem is mostly cost: CNC machining ain't cheap! We were going to go that way if necessary, but it turned out that Andrew's design is extremely robust, precise, and functional. If I may brag on his behalf for a second, it's a brilliant piece of work (took about a year to get perfect). And we can offer it at an affordable price because it can be 3D printed, at least when following his strict formulas, using high quality printers (we use Zortrax) and high quality materials, with careful quality control. There's still a lot of assembly required on Andrew's part, but ultimately we've kept the cost down at my target.

Thanks again for your feedback! I hope you decide to take the plunge... as a fellow inveterate tinkerer, it was tinkering that lead me to want a fully modular camera in the first place. :)

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 04:00
Dear Zach,

I'm not really interested in going further down the track of handheld cameras, but did want to say I fully support your initiative. I find all the naysayers odd, and rude. If they are not interested, why even comment? I think this camera will appeal especially to medium format shooters, and young hipsters and hackers into experimental photography; and expect it to be a gateway drug into the world of large format. I applaud any initiative that seeks to expand the number of people using and enjoying film. I think that is good for all of us, so

Bravo!

Best, Tim

Thanks Tim (and Rich and Kevin)! I often wonder the same myself, but that just seems to be how the web works. I just try to take all criticism as constructive on some level and stay positive. In all fairness, this is a complex project, and thus quite difficult to convey succinctly, so some confusion and misinterpretation is quite normal. And even suspicion, probably. I try not to take it personally, and will try to clear it all up as best I can!

Your characterization of the camera's appeal perfectly expresses my own hopes and expectations about its user base. And I absolutely hope that it serves as a gateway drug to larger and larger formats, more and more film shot! I understand that many folks prefer a specialized machine for their particular use case, but for me, a fully customizable camera brings back a joy in photography that is similar to the beginning, as well as the pleasure one finds in returning to film after digital. Besides veteran photographers looking for something extremely versatile and lightweight, I hope to reach younger photographers, to help open their eyes to the many pleasures of photography beyond point and shoot.

EdSawyer
6-Jun-2016, 10:10
Well, it's an interesting endeavor, it reminds me more of a Cambo Wide (original version) than anything else. I would be surprised if it got much traction, but more people shooting large or medium format film is always a good thing, so good luck on the efforts!

seezee
6-Jun-2016, 10:20
Zach, you need to either update the link on the Kickstarter page to go to mercurycamera.com (not www.mercurycamera.com) or update your DNS A records so both URLs point to the site.

Randy Moe
6-Jun-2016, 10:31
Hi Randy, I know that Instax is not everyone's cup of tea (and many of us are still in deep mourning over the discontinuation of Fuji's peel apart instant films), but I've gotta say that it is really fun to shoot! So I hear you, brother. That particular back (which can be viewed briefly in the Kickstarter film and which was used to shoot the Instax Wide photos that appear there), adapted from Lomography's Belair Instant Back, is pretty difficult to construct (it wasn't easy getting that large of a frame to fit a medium format back; our Graflok 45 version allowed for more breathing room from an engineering standpoint), and thus I decided to leave it off of our already crowded Kickstarter. But we'll make them available soon, and I'll make sure you get one!

PM sent on KS page.

Oren Grad
6-Jun-2016, 11:01
Hi Randy, I know that Instax is not everyone's cup of tea (and many of us are still in deep mourning over the discontinuation of Fuji's peel apart instant films), but I've gotta say that it is really fun to shoot! So I hear you, brother. That particular back (which can be viewed briefly in the Kickstarter film and which was used to shoot the Instax Wide photos that appear there), adapted from Lomography's Belair Instant Back, is pretty difficult to construct (it wasn't easy getting that large of a frame to fit a medium format back; our Graflok 45 version allowed for more breathing room from an engineering standpoint), and thus I decided to leave it off of our already crowded Kickstarter. But we'll make them available soon, and I'll make sure you get one!

As you will have figured out by now, the shape of the Lomo Instax and Instax Wide backs, including the Belair, Diana and LC-A versions, was designed to mate with the respective Lomo cameras and requires major surgery to fit to a Graflok mounting plate and mount to a Graflok-backed camera without being obstructed somewhere. The real challenge - the holy grail, if you like - is an adaptation that puts the film plane in the same place as the 2x3 or 4x5 ground glass so that no awkward kludges are required for focusing. Will yours do that?

Randy Moe
6-Jun-2016, 11:12
That is the $100 question!

Thanks for asking Oren!



As you will have figured out by now, the shape of the Lomo Instax and Instax Wide backs, including the Belair, Diana and LC-A versions, was designed to mate with the respective Lomo cameras and requires major surgery to fit to a Graflok mounting plate and mount to a Graflok-backed camera without being obstructed somewhere. The real challenge - the holy grail, if you like - is an adaptation that puts the film plane in the same place as the 2x3 or 4x5 ground glass so that no awkward kludges are required for focusing. Will yours do that?

Bob Salomon
6-Jun-2016, 11:12
Well, it's an interesting endeavor, it reminds me more of a Cambo Wide (original version) than anything else. I would be surprised if it got much traction, but more people shooting large or medium format film is always a good thing, so good luck on the efforts!

Closer, perhaps, to the Linhof Technar that shot formats from 35mm to 45 sheet or roll film. Used lenses from 65mm to 135mm.

Drew Wiley
6-Jun-2016, 12:02
There's no question that Linhof could do things precisely. But traditional high-quality die-casting also equated to a fair amount of weight. It will be interesting to
see how more recent material science comes into play, without resorting to cheapie injection-moulded plastic, that is.

Bob Salomon
6-Jun-2016, 12:08
There's no question that Linhof could do things precisely. But traditional high-quality die-casting also equated to a fair amount of weight. It will be interesting to
see how more recent material science comes into play, without resorting to cheapie injection-moulded plastic, that is.
The Technar was not very heavy, the lens mounts, lens and halicals were kind of heavy as were the roll backs. The camera body itself was cast aluminum and was pretty thin. In fact, it was basically the rear standard of a Kardan JBL.

Drew Wiley
6-Jun-2016, 13:02
There was also the Sinar Handy. I've never seen one of those in the flesh. But this particular Kickstarter is interesting. I've often contemplated jerryrigging certain
modern or vintage lenses onto 6x9 with a helical mount. Hopefully, this project will save the headache and make it easy. The one thing I can't seem to engineer
my way out of is the increase of gravity over time. The idea of me still carrying packs over 70 lbs when I've crossed the threshold into my own 70's doesn't particularly appeal to me. But it really only after retirement that I will have the time to take certain long treks. So every sensible lightweight gear option needs
to be reviewed. For example, I'll probably be hauling my 8x10 and big Ries maple tripod up a hill this coming weekend; but I do have a suitable carbon fiber tripod in reserve that weighs half as much for the time I really need it. And I'm quite comfortable with my Pentax 6x7 gear; but the damn kit weighs just as much as 4x5, without having the same versatility. So the 120 film gear is also getting reconsidered, just to see if there are any realistic options at lighter weight
and realistic cost.

Jac@stafford.net
6-Jun-2016, 14:35
My goal would be a 4x5" with an accurate rangefinder, viewfinder and ground glass on a camera light enough to hand-hold with a relatively fast lens lens from 135mm to 150mm F/4.5 or faster. Dreaming? I think not. At the moment I have a few of them. No movements possible or necessary for certain works. The only movement I would wish would be front rise which can be done with an offset lens board. Simple is good.

Making a modular LF camera is rather hopeless in today's market. There are already a number of options.

Again, sincere best of luck with your venture.

Bob Salomon
6-Jun-2016, 14:53
My goal would be a 4x5" with an accurate rangefinder, viewfinder and ground glass on a camera light enough to hand-hold with a relatively fast lens lens from 135mm to 150mm F/4.5 or faster. Dreaming? I think not. At the moment I have a few of them. No movements possible or necessary for certain works. The only movement I would wish would be front rise which can be done with an offset lens board. Simple is good.

Making a modular LF camera is rather hopeless in today's market. There are already a number of options.

Again, sincere best of luck with your venture.

Wista RF if you want the rangefinder and viewfinder built in. Otherwise a Master Technika, but you would have to add the finder and grip. Photographers have been hand holding these for decades. Check out some of Mary Ellen Mark's work with the Master Technika hand held. BTW, she was not very big.

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 20:58
As you will have figured out by now, the shape of the Lomo Instax and Instax Wide backs, including the Belair, Diana and LC-A versions, was designed to mate with the respective Lomo cameras and requires major surgery to fit to a Graflok mounting plate and mount to a Graflok-backed camera without being obstructed somewhere. The real challenge - the holy grail, if you like - is an adaptation that puts the film plane in the same place as the 2x3 or 4x5 ground glass so that no awkward kludges are required for focusing. Will yours do that?

Oren, you are right: lots of surgery is required on the Lomo backs to give them standard mounts. Unfortunately, it is not physically possible to do so at the standard film plane. Our Instax Mini (for Graflok 23) and Instax Wide (for Graflok 45) backs sit 20mm farther back from the focal plane. This works well on the Mercury, which utilizes 20mm front spacers and optional 20mm rear spacers. To switch to one of these backs, you simply remove one front spacer. Alternately (only for the 23 version at the moment), you can add a rear spacer to your standard backs (which is a Graflok 23 extender) and then you just swap backs normally. On bellows cameras, this back could be used with a second set of infinity stops. On fixed focal plane cameras (RB67, etc.), it won't work.

So, bottom line is that we got around the problem by designing the entire camera system with compatible modularity.

We also make a Graflok 23 version of the Instax Wide back, but that one sits 30mm farther back and lacks a dark slide (engineering constraints of making the Graflok 23 mount take a larger than 6x9 format). All three versions are now available on the Kickstarter.

Cheers,
Zach

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 21:03
My goal would be a 4x5" with an accurate rangefinder, viewfinder and ground glass on a camera light enough to hand-hold with a relatively fast lens lens from 135mm to 150mm F/4.5 or faster. Dreaming? I think not. At the moment I have a few of them. No movements possible or necessary for certain works. The only movement I would wish would be front rise which can be done with an offset lens board. Simple is good.


Hi Jac, thanks again for your comments.

Yes, there are some good cameras out there that can do this. If that's all you need it to do, and can afford and find one, those are great options! The Mercury can do this as well (and is probably the lightest option out there by a wide margin). Its a good option for those who want the same as you on a budget, but it's also for folks who need it to do more things (and that it certainly can!).

I'm loving all of great references to excellent cameras of the past! Thanks everybody!

zhorton
6-Jun-2016, 21:10
I've often contemplated jerryrigging certain
modern or vintage lenses onto 6x9 with a helical mount. Hopefully, this project will save the headache and make it easy. The one thing I can't seem to engineer
my way out of is the increase of gravity over time. ... And I'm quite comfortable with my Pentax 6x7 gear; but the damn kit weighs just as much as 4x5, without having the same versatility. So the 120 film gear is also getting reconsidered, just to see if there are any realistic options at lighter weight
and realistic cost.

Hi Drew,

Yes, that is exactly what the Mercury does, and was my original goal when making for myself: To utilize the great lenses out there for 6x9 on a really light and portable camera. Then I wanted it to do 4x5, and Instax, and all the rest... I got greedy, and ended up with a fully modular system! But yes, it can get back to basics and do exactly what you suggest, without the headache of custom machining, etc. (which is where I started). I've now posted a preliminary list of view camera lenses that have been tested with the Mercury at www.mercurycamera.com

I admire your willingness to schlep an 8x10 over hills! Eventually, further down the Mercury roadmap, I'd like to do an 8x10 back for it...

Cheers,
Zach

Oren Grad
6-Jun-2016, 21:36
Oren, you are right: lots of surgery is required on the Lomo backs to give them standard mounts. Unfortunately, it is not physically possible to do so at the standard film plane. Our Instax Mini (for Graflok 23) and Instax Wide (for Graflok 45) backs sit 20mm farther back from the focal plane. This works well on the Mercury, which utilizes 20mm front spacers and optional 20mm rear spacers. To switch to one of these backs, you simply remove one front spacer. Alternately (only for the 23 version at the moment), you can add a rear spacer to your standard backs (which is a Graflok 23 extender) and then you just swap backs normally. On bellows cameras, this back could be used with a second set of infinity stops. On fixed focal plane cameras (RB67, etc.), it won't work.

Assuming one can clip a calibrated rear spacer to a GG panel and swap it as a unit, then for tripod-based work where one is already used to swapping between a GG panel and a clip-on (as opposed to slide-in) film holder, there shouldn't really be any loss of convenience. For hand-held work one is pretty much stuck with scale focus, though the ISO 800 speed of the Instax film will make it easier to work with forgiving aperture settings.

Plenty to think about!

Corran
6-Jun-2016, 22:29
Just saw this. I decided to give it a go and backed the LF version. I mention this to say I am a supporter but I still have reservations, as the actual operation and changing of the backs is not shown in any way.

Mainly, I would like to know what the minimum flange-focal distance is when configured as a 4x5. I have the Travelwide and like it for what it is but I would like to use my ultrawides with a helical on your camera if possible - would using a Schneider 38mm XL via a 6x12 Horseman work on this camera? That would be the most extreme idea. The photos show what looks like an extension back for 4x5 usage that I would guess would be almost impossible to use wider than 90mm lenses with. Or are there multiple 4x5 backs with different extensions?? It seems like for a truly "universal system" you'll end up having so many pieces and parts it'll be like assembling a Lego set every time you go shoot or want to change lenses.

If the LF back doesn't work for really wides I'll probably change to a MF version. I see your pricelist on the bottom of the KS - are those the prices in general or are they "special" KS pricing? Is the "additional lens kit" at $20 include a helical? What is a "budget" 120 back, and for that matter what is a "calibration" back? Oh now the 35mm panoramic back is interesting...again I would like to know more...

I'm also curious how you are changing lenses. Is the panel on the helical interchangeable or are you suggesting we have a "front end" for every lens incl. helicals? With larger helicals for longer focal lengths? Or is the focus travel going to be set and then you add spacers to focus closer? *Okay I found that information buried in the KS*

Seems like a medium format version with standard Graflok would be pretty cool though as a travel camera and hyperfocal focusing but even that would be tricky if you want to use more than one lens. If the point is freedom and not being stuck on a tripod I think that's simply impossible for a truly modular setup without a way to view TTL or some sort of standardized setup for one or two lenses and a rangefinder.

Speaking of rangefinders, I wonder if telling your potential customers to just use a cheap $10 aux. RF is smart...your focus scale is only going to be correct for one focal length, meaning your RF is only workable with that one FL. You can bring along a "conversion chart" for other lenses I suppose and notate how many spacers you need for each but that's getting rather tedious. Is your intended market going to understand how all that works? Okay you mention focus scales so we can change those...I'll reiterate my comments about a Lego set here then. It would be interesting if you sold new aux. RFs because the ones available cheaply are not accurate or calibrated, in my experience.

Bob Salomon
7-Jun-2016, 04:36
Hi Jac, thanks again for your comments.

Yes, there are some good cameras out there that can do this. If that's all you need it to do, and can afford and find one, those are great options! The Mercury can do this as well (and is probably the lightest option out there by a wide margin). Its a good option for those who want the same as you on a budget, but it's also for folks who need it to do more things (and that it certainly can!).

I'm loving all of great references to excellent cameras of the past! Thanks everybody!

The Wista RF and the Master Technika are current cameras. Not cameras of the past.

Daniel.E
7-Jun-2016, 08:55
Zach, on your website you can define the width and height of the embedded spreadsheet by defining the values like this, <iframe width='483' height='530' src="... that way it'll be easier to read.
It'd be great to freeze the top row too so that as you scroll down you can still see what lists mean.

DrTang
7-Jun-2016, 09:08
where is that lens database I read about?

I have a Mamiya 50mm I'd like to use as well as a 80mm planner

Daniel.E
7-Jun-2016, 09:09
Here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qYLIixQcBTYH2RSH3tC4FO-XAt0p4r4NnLBNlQ5c0jA/pubhtml?gid=560356150&single=true

as seen here http://mercurycamera.com/?page_id=48

Bob Salomon
7-Jun-2016, 09:11
where is that lens database I read about?

I have a Mamiya 50mm I'd like to use as well as a 80mm planner

80mm Planar from a Rollei TLR or from a Hasselblad or from a Rollei 6XXX or SLX or from a Rollei SL 66 or from something else?

It would take a remarkable piece of engineering for this new camera to be able to use all of these 80 mm Planar lenses on the same camera. Especially if their shutters were to function.

Randy Moe
7-Jun-2016, 09:30
where is that lens database I read about?

I have a Mamiya 50mm I'd like to use as well as a 80mm planner

Did you miss the thread about Mamiya RB lens adapter to anything? I tried the adapter with 50mm RB on 4x5 and put it on the shelf...ymmv :)

Daniel.E
7-Jun-2016, 09:55
Did you miss the thread about Mamiya RB lens adapter to anything? I tried the adapter with 50mm RB on 4x5 and put it on the shelf...ymmv :)

I sure did, where is that?

DrTang
7-Jun-2016, 10:15
80mm Planar from a Rollei TLR or from a Hasselblad or from a Rollei 6XXX or SLX or from a Rollei SL 66 or from something else?

It would take a remarkable piece of engineering for this new camera to be able to use all of these 80 mm Planar lenses on the same camera. Especially if their shutters were to function.

from a Graphic XL.. which is a lot like your camera BTW ... and the Mamiya 50mm has been reshuttered into a copal 1

Randy Moe
7-Jun-2016, 10:19
I sure did, where is that?

I don't know now. Do a Google search. Several of us bought them on eBay.

plywood
7-Jun-2016, 17:10
I have a technical question. Will the Rezza set up allow you to adapt a 105mm f4.5 Anaston lens from a Kodak Tourist camera? I'm not sure of the exact flange to film distance on this lens, about 4 inches I suppose. I'm thinking about this and an inexpensive graflex 23 roll adapter.

zhorton
7-Jun-2016, 23:21
Assuming one can clip a calibrated rear spacer to a GG panel and swap it as a unit, then for tripod-based work where one is already used to swapping between a GG panel and a clip-on (as opposed to slide-in) film holder, there shouldn't really be any loss of convenience. For hand-held work one is pretty much stuck with scale focus, though the ISO 800 speed of the Instax film will make it easier to work with forgiving aperture settings.

Plenty to think about!

Yes, Oren, this is absolutely correct. I'll just clarify, though, that we currently have a Graflok 23 back spacer that does exactly this, but not yet a 4x5 Graflok. I think our design would scale up easily, but it will be more expensive to make for sure. So the advantages you mention here are immense, but these are more expensive to make than the front spacers. Only some will need/want them, but they will be available.

You are also right about the Instax: at that ISO, I've found anything shot outdoors to be extremely forgiving (I've rarely had one out of focus, shooting with the rangefinder on the Mercury).

zhorton
7-Jun-2016, 23:34
DrTang, as Bob notes, there are a number of 80mm Planars! :) The Graflex XL / Linhof version is a real peach, and works beautifully with the Mercury. It may be my favorite lens for medium format on the Mercury. Coverage only up to about 6x8, though. The Hasselblad one should work when we finish our Pentax 645 adapter (which is also meant to adapt Hasselblad V and Pentacon 6 mount lenses via existing adapters, which are very thin). I'm currently working on that part. The Rollei TLR lenses should work as well, but haven't been tested (I have tested the Mamiya TLR 80mm lens and that works). The Rollei 6XXX lenses can probably be adapted, but their electronic shutters would be useless. They'd have to go into an Ilex 4 or Copal 3, like the other shutterless medium format lenses.

I haven't tested the Mamiya 50mm, but it will work. Just see my coming-in-a-minute post about ultra wide angle lenses.

zhorton
7-Jun-2016, 23:35
I have a technical question. Will the Rezza set up allow you to adapt a 105mm f4.5 Anaston lens from a Kodak Tourist camera? I'm not sure of the exact flange to film distance on this lens, about 4 inches I suppose. I'm thinking about this and an inexpensive graflex 23 roll adapter.

Yep, we've tested this exact setup!

zhorton
8-Jun-2016, 00:06
Bryan, thanks for your support, and your excellent questions! Let me give them a quick shot:

For ultra wide lenses, the normal Mercury Focus Unit is swapped out for a special "Rotating Wide Helical." For the 23 format, this is everything below 65mm. For the 45 format, that's everything below 90mm (as you correctly guessed). This special helical allows lenses down to about 35mm work on 23. I'm not sure about the limit on 45 (this helical is designed to allow recessing as well as extension). I've only tested down to 65mm, which works fine. I would love to know if your ultimate extreme example would work. If you or anyone else wants to loan me the lens, I'd be thrilled to try to make it work (seriously)! For now, though, I'd say that shorter than 65mm on large format is unknown territory. With the 23 back that 38mm lens would work with no problem. I've tested it with the Zeiss Biogon 38mm and that certainly works. I don't think the Schneider has a shorter flange distance...

The 45 back adapter adds 30mm of rear extension to the camera.

The downside of the rotating helical is just that: the lens rotates as you adjust focus. That's the price to pay on the Mercury for ultra wide angles. But we have a full focus scale system for this helical just as we do with the standard one, so focusing is very precise.

In general, each lens has its own focus scale calibrated to the Mercury. That slips on the Focus Unit when you change lenses. In general, to change a lens you unscrew its barrel from the helical. If you're changing to a lens that is radically different in focal length, you also have to swap out a front spacer or a rear spacer, or the helical itself. Front spacers and helicals are both swapped by loosening the four front bolts (like a technical camera).

I don't want to get too technical, but basically there are multiple possible ways to adapt any given lens (longer or shorter barrel, longer or shorter front spacer, longer or shorter rear spacer, etc. There are basic kits to keep things simple, and more advanced options for users with specific needs and who, for instance, want to make it as easy as possible to switch between their exact lenses. But I hope my basic description here has cleared things up a bit. Different lenses have different requirements, so the solution depends on the lens (and what other lenses you want to swap easily).

But the bottom line is that almost all super wides work well, as long as you are okay with the lens rotating (this is fine for most people, but not for some who uses CPL and/or circular gradient filters all the time).

As for cheap rangefinders, they do work with all lenses. They just measure distance; you then enter that distance on the helical. It's one more little step than a coupled rangefinder, but the advantage is that it then becomes possible to adapt any lens (universal). The problem you describe, of a rangefinder only working with one lens, only applies to couple rangefinders. This is why only a handful of lenses will work with a Graflex XL, etc. (Some coupled rangefinders have removable cams, but these just push the problem to the cams... but I digress.) For the Mercury, the burden of getting the focus to work falls on the focus scale, which has to be created by someone at some point; it will then work with any rangefinder. One does have to have an accurate one, though, and really old ones may need to be calibrated for accuracy. Another option is to use a cheap laser distant finder for absolute accuracy (but limited range). We'll make a simple cold shoe mount for one that is readily available on ebay for under $20.

I hope this helps clear things up and allow you to decide which setup will work best for you! (But really, now I want to test that 38mm on 4x5; I think it would work with some significant recessing.)

Cheers,
Zach

Oren Grad
8-Jun-2016, 04:19
I would love to know if your ultimate extreme example would work. If you or anyone else wants to loan me the lens, I'd be thrilled to try to make it work (seriously)! For now, though, I'd say that shorter than 65mm on large format is unknown territory. With the 23 back that 38mm lens would work with no problem. I've tested it with the Zeiss Biogon 38mm and that certainly works. I don't think the Schneider has a shorter flange distance...

FFD specification for the 38mm SA-XL is 52.1mm.

Corran
8-Jun-2016, 06:44
Thanks for clarifying all of that Zach (and thanks Oren for providing that spec).

Well Zach, I am glad to hear you have a solution for ultrawides - my apologies if that info was in the KS but I just missed it. I think I can visualize how it works, and yes rotating the whole lens kind of stinks but it's workable...just focus before applying the grads/polarizers, which I do use often. As for trying out my idea...perhaps instead you can send me a camera to test, ha! I have pretty much the entire ultrawide Schneider XL set - 38/47/58/72/90, plus more interesting and varied lenses, new and old, I could add to your database, if you were interested...but seriously I'd be interested in adding that rotating wide helical to my order, can you add that to the "Add-On" components list on the bottom?

zhorton
8-Jun-2016, 11:40
Well Zach, I am glad to hear you have a solution for ultrawides - my apologies if that info was in the KS but I just missed it. I think I can visualize how it works, and yes rotating the whole lens kind of stinks but it's workable...just focus before applying the grads/polarizers, which I do use often. As for trying out my idea...perhaps instead you can send me a camera to test, ha! I have pretty much the entire ultrawide Schneider XL set - 38/47/58/72/90, plus more interesting and varied lenses, new and old, I could add to your database, if you were interested...but seriously I'd be interested in adding that rotating wide helical to my order, can you add that to the "Add-On" components list on the bottom?

Bryan, you didn't miss that info--it simply couldn't fit in the Kickstarter (and a minority of users know the pleasure of true ultrawide, nonretrofocal lenses)! But I've now added the additional board you need for ultrawides, for $25. The additional components necessary for each lens will be included in the standard lens kits for ultrawides. Right now, only the SA 47mm 5.6 and 90mm f/8 (not an ultrawide, of course) are in the Mercury lens database. Given your collection of lenses, I'd be willing to work something out with you: perhaps send you my special testing Mercury (which mounts a digital EOS-M at the focal plane for easy lens calibration) so you can calibrate all of your lenses. I could then create the complete lens kits for all of your lenses, and send them to you for free, in exchange for doing the calibration (i.e., marking each focal setting for each lens on blank focus rings). I definitely want to get these lenses into the database for all to make use of.

The same goes for anyone else who owns at least a few view lenses that could be thought of as desirable additions to the database. Just contact me with the details!

Oren Grad
8-Jun-2016, 12:05
Hashing out the goals and technical details of the project here with Zach is fine, but when it gets to the point of spec'ing out a personal order/pledge, can everyone please take that over to KS, or otherwise off-line from here? Thanks!

Corran
8-Jun-2016, 12:13
Will email Zach shortly. Thanks.

Jac@stafford.net
8-Jun-2016, 15:26
The same goes for anyone else who owns at least a few view lenses that could be thought of as desirable additions to the database. Just contact me with the details!

Here is an impossible: Grandagon 35mm lens. It absolutely requires rise. IMHO. What other wide lenses might benefit from the same?

zhorton
8-Jun-2016, 20:35
Zach, on your website you can define the width and height of the embedded spreadsheet by defining the values like this, <iframe width='483' height='530' src="... that way it'll be easier to read.
It'd be great to freeze the top row too so that as you scroll down you can still see what lists mean.

Thanks Daniel! It's fixed now, cleaned up a bit, and has the header row and lens column frozen for easy browsing.

zhorton
8-Jun-2016, 20:45
Here is an impossible: Grandagon 35mm lens. It absolutely requires rise. IMHO. What other wide lenses might benefit from the same?

A rise and/or shift unit for the Mercury certainly should be possible, and is on the roadmap for some feasibility engineering, but isn't available yet. I would definitely like to seek community involvement on this one. How much rise or shift would be "enough" to make it worthwhile? My feeling is that such a module would replace one of the Mercury's front spacers. Assuming that this works out in the future, anyone could upgrade their camera in seconds. The same goes for most other possible features: if the community wants it, it will happen, either by us or someone else. Anything useful created by the community (especially as 3D designs) will be centrally shared by us, and made available for anyone who wants it; i.e., if the designer wants us to, we will produce the parts and make them available to everyone to purchase in physical form. If the designer wants to do that, that's also fine. We will continue making all sorts of parts, but the model we're setting up will hopefully greatly accelerate the process by linking a bunch of people together and facilitating community development. So pretty much anything that someone wants, and is physically possible, could potentially be added to the Mercury ecosystem. I think that front rise will be high on our list.

Thanks for the comment/suggestion!

Randy Moe
8-Jun-2016, 21:15
Since we are now in page 2 of this thread and it will become many pages more, I suggest you add your website and KS to your signature line, so they appear in your every post.

Always advertise!

zhorton
9-Jun-2016, 21:02
Since we are now in page 2 of this thread and it will become many pages more, I suggest you add your website and KS to your signature line, so they appear in your every post.

Always advertise!
You are a wise man, Randy! Suggestion taken!

goamules
10-Jun-2016, 07:52
I wish you the best. You seem to know a lot about the challenges, and are offering something novel that can really help photographers. That's great to see in a world of a lot of hyped up photography projects that don't really offer much. Yours will do well if you can get enough audience looking....

plywood
10-Jun-2016, 14:25
I have another technical question. What are the focus scales made of and how are they applied to the focusing unit. I would also assume these can only be calculated for a few standard focal lengths. Could you list the focal lengths they will be available for? Also do you happen to know the 'rate' for your helical, by that I mean how many degrees of rotation per millimeter of extension. Will you also supply blank lens adapters that can be drilled for odd ball size lens mounting diameters? Just a few things I curious about and thanks in advance for clearing up questions about this system.

Jac@stafford.net
10-Jun-2016, 15:06
I have to admire a project of this type. I do not have to admire its resemblance to previous products. There is yet a break-through to be made, and the Mercury is not it.

zhorton
11-Jun-2016, 01:46
I have another technical question. What are the focus scales made of and how are they applied to the focusing unit. I would also assume these can only be calculated for a few standard focal lengths. Could you list the focal lengths they will be available for? Also do you happen to know the 'rate' for your helical, by that I mean how many degrees of rotation per millimeter of extension. Will you also supply blank lens adapters that can be drilled for odd ball size lens mounting diameters? Just a few things I curious about and thanks in advance for clearing up questions about this system.

My pleasure! The focus scales are 3D printed rings keyed to fit onto the helical focus unit. Each accepts an adhesive strip (sticker) that contains the markings for a specific lens. Once adhered to a ring, a focus scale comes into existence. Each can be slipped onto and off of the Focus Unit when changing lenses. So there is no limit to how many of these can be made. We already have about 50. To see the current list of available lens kits (each of which includes a focus scale, except for system lenses that have their own built-in helicals, of course; those are different adapters), check out the recently added lens compatibility page at the Mercury site (www.mercurycamera.com). Anyone can make more, even users calibrating their lenses at home. Eventually, our goal is to to have ready-to-go lens kits (each with a focus scale) for every practical and common view camera lens out there.

The focus unit has, according to my rough calculation, about 1mm of extension for every 16 degrees of rotation, with a maximum extension of 17mm. It was designed to handle lenses from 65mm to 150mm. Lenses outside of this range use special rotating helicals to meet their needs for longer reach (long lenses) or extreme compactness (ultrawides).

We already have lens adapters for every shutter I know of, and some generic sizes. We have one that is a pretty small hole, meant for attaching a pinhole drilled in some little scrap of material. This adapter is essentially what you're asking for, as the hole can be enlarged to any arbitrary size.

Thanks again for your questions!

Cheers,
Zach

zhorton
11-Jun-2016, 02:02
I have to admire a project of this type. I do not have to admire its resemblance to previous products.

Hi Jac, the Mercury, in order to fulfill its promise of being able to pair nearly any lens to any format, must incorporate many standard design elements. We are not trying to push the limits of camera aesthetics, but rather of camera modularity. So, sure, the front lens stack may somewhat resemble something from a Graflex, because it conforms to the Pacemaker lens board standard. This allows one to mount any lens that can be mounted on a Pacemaker (even with the same board!), if you are fine with fixed focus. And sure, the "pancake" design of the front adapter and rear back adapter may resemble a Hasselblad SWC, a Graflex XL, a Cambo Wide, or an Alpa, because it is meant to be able to shrink to that size when necessary, to mount the lenses designed for those systems. We wanted to make a fully modular, universal, open system, and that means maximizing interoperability with existing gear out there. As the many folks who have posted here and contacted us directly have affirmed, many have been waiting for this kind of breakthrough. If it's not for you, no worries at all. I'm just explaining that for the type of breakthrough we were after, we had to forego radical departures in design aesthetics that would restrict capabilities and interoperability. That's just the nature of the system: it is deliberately like previous cameras because it seeks to be able to do what they can do and utilize gear designed for those systems, while also being able to do much more.

Cheers,
Zach

zhorton
11-Jun-2016, 02:07
I wish you the best. You seem to know a lot about the challenges, and are offering something novel that can really help photographers. That's great to see in a world of a lot of hyped up photography projects that don't really offer much. Yours will do well if you can get enough audience looking....

Thanks Garrett! Indeed, the difficulty of a project like this is getting it seen in time by enough people! We have no doubt that the need is out there. We are also quite confident in the system itself, after two years of development and testing. But boy, have there been challenges! We've overcome them all so far, but there will be more; of that we have no doubt! Again, thanks for your kind words!

Cheers,
Zach

jb7
11-Jun-2016, 16:03
The project looks great, and I thought the video was very entertaining, although you did cast the older guy with the beard as the large format guy-

Still, older is probably relative...

Good luck with the project, hope you make it, it's looking good so far-

Joseph

zhorton
12-Jun-2016, 13:04
The project looks great, and I thought the video was very entertaining, although you did cast the older guy with the beard as the large format guy-

Still, older is probably relative...

Good luck with the project, hope you make it, it's looking good so far-

Joseph

Hi Joseph, thanks! We all know that large format photographers are young at heart! ;)

Seriously, though, I do hope that this introduces more young photographers to large format.

Cheers,
Zach

plywood
14-Jun-2016, 21:22
Well, I backed this thing but even if it is not successful they might learn enough to relaunch with a more mature knowledge of what folks want.

zhorton
15-Jun-2016, 01:54
Well, I backed this thing but even if it is not successful they might learn enough to relaunch with a more mature knowledge of what folks want.

Thanks plywood! You are right: we have indeed learned a great deal about what folks out there want, in just a little over a week. That has been the most rewarding thing so far about finally bringing this to the public. And it will certainly affect future Mercury development. Meanwhile, though, I think that we will be successful with this first KS launch, despite the learning curve...

Cheers,
Zach

europanorama
17-Jun-2016, 02:34
Bryan, thanks for your support, and your excellent questions! Let me give them a quick shot:

For ultra wide lenses, the normal Mercury Focus Unit is swapped out for a special "Rotating Wide Helical." For the 23 format, this is everything below 65mm. For the 45 format, that's everything below 90mm (as you correctly guessed). This special helical allows lenses down to about 35mm work on 23. I'm not sure about the limit on 45 (this helical is designed to allow recessing as well as extension). I've only tested down to 65mm, which works fine. I would love to know if your ultimate extreme example would work. If you or anyone else wants to loan me the lens, I'd be thrilled to try to make it work (seriously)! For now, though, I'd say that shorter than 65mm on large format is unknown territory. With the 23 back that 38mm lens would work with no problem. I've tested it with the Zeiss Biogon 38mm and that certainly works. I don't think the Schneider has a shorter flange distance...

The 45 back adapter adds 30mm of rear extension to the camera.

The downside of the rotating helical is just that: the lens rotates as you adjust focus. That's the price to pay on the Mercury for ultra wide angles. But we have a full focus scale system for this helical just as we do with the standard one, so focusing is very precise.

In general, each lens has its own focus scale calibrated to the Mercury. That slips on the Focus Unit when you change lenses. In general, to change a lens you unscrew its barrel from the helical. If you're changing to a lens that is radically different in focal length, you also have to swap out a front spacer or a rear spacer, or the helical itself. Front spacers and helicals are both swapped by loosening the four front bolts (like a technical camera).

I don't want to get too technical, but basically there are multiple possible ways to adapt any given lens (longer or shorter barrel, longer or shorter front spacer, longer or shorter rear spacer, etc. There are basic kits to keep things simple, and more advanced options for users with specific needs and who, for instance, want to make it as easy as possible to switch between their exact lenses. But I hope my basic description here has cleared things up a bit. Different lenses have different requirements, so the solution depends on the lens (and what other lenses you want to swap easily).

But the bottom line is that almost all super wides work well, as long as you are okay with the lens rotating (this is fine for most people, but not for some who uses CPL and/or circular gradient filters all the time).

As for cheap rangefinders, they do work with all lenses. They just measure distance; you then enter that distance on the helical. It's one more little step than a coupled rangefinder, but the advantage is that it then becomes possible to adapt any lens (universal). The problem you describe, of a rangefinder only working with one lens, only applies to couple rangefinders. This is why only a handful of lenses will work with a Graflex XL, etc. (Some coupled rangefinders have removable cams, but these just push the problem to the cams... but I digress.) For the Mercury, the burden of getting the focus to work falls on the focus scale, which has to be created by someone at some point; it will then work with any rangefinder. One does have to have an accurate one, though, and really old ones may need to be calibrated for accuracy. Another option is to use a cheap laser distant finder for absolute accuracy (but limited range). We'll make a simple cold shoe mount for one that is readily available on ebay for under $20.

I hope this helps clear things up and allow you to decide which setup will work best for you! (But really, now I want to test that 38mm on 4x5; I think it would work with some significant recessing.)

Cheers,
Zach

A Rangefinder Laser Distance Meter is advised-costs 160 chf upwards.
in an earlier message: Was the RB-4x5-adapter meant? Had just contact with the ebay-seller.
there is the 18-4x5-camera-system(multile cams) with a rangefinder for around 800usd on ebay. and a cheaper one for 260 usd for 58 and 65mm lenses only with helicoids. cheapest is a 4x5 pinhole for 99 usd.

zhorton
17-Jun-2016, 23:46
europanorama, here's a link to the laser distance finder that I'd recommend if you want to go that route: http://www.ebay.com/itm/40-m-High-precision-Handheld-Digital-IR-Laser-Distance-Meter-Range-Finder-LO-/161933546176?hash=item25b3fdd2c0:g:cUEAAOSwKtlWhJBK

We're working on a simple cold shoe mount for that one.

The other option for handheld (and my personal favorite) is a simple optical rangefinder, like this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Watameter-I-shoe-mount-Rangefinder-6767-1874-/291792587947?hash=item43f0318cab:g:tisAAOSwNuxXYITJ

As for the RB67 adapter, yes, we will be utilizing the guts from the RB67 to large format lens board adapter and rehousing them in a far lighter, more compact form that will mount directly to the Mercury.

I hope that helps!

Cheers,
Zach

zhorton
17-Jun-2016, 23:57
Hi folks,

I've now posted a new technical video (Update 2 on the Kickstarter page) that shows the camera's main modules and how they fit together. I think that this will answer a lot of questions that have come up in this thread. Please check it out!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/294564710/mercury-the-worlds-first-universal-camera/posts/1606571

Regards,
Zach

Drew Bedo
23-Jun-2016, 08:10
I am considering backing this project but cannot find how much to commit for one camera capable of using 4x5 sheet film with one lens (90mm or 140mm). Hopefully a Grafmatic will fit.

I am not adept in figuring out h these newer blog-style websites . too busy for my visually impaired eyes and. Can't figure out how to contact them via their website either (it must be me).

Oren Grad
23-Jun-2016, 08:19
Drew, there is a "Contact me" link on the KS campaign page, just under the area on the upper right that summarizes the current fund-raising status and the "Back This Project" button. You do need to have a Kickstarter account and be logged in to use that. Alternatively, you can PM Zach here.

Corran
23-Jun-2016, 08:53
Drew, I think what you want is this, the 10th pledge on the right:

Pledge $175 or more

RICH: LARGE FORMAT MERCURY, Batch Two

ESTIMATED DELIVERY:
Mar 2017
SHIPS TO:
Anywhere in the world
Limited (61 left of 80) • 19 backers

And then add $20 for an "additional lens kit."

Zach has been very responsive to questions as well.

Drew Bedo
23-Jun-2016, 09:17
I keep getting into a "verify your e-mail" loop when the contact button is clicked.

Don't understand why this can't be simple to do.

Corran
23-Jun-2016, 09:21
Have you verified your email? :)

I am not sure what the issue is but if you've made an account on KS, clicked the verification link that was emailed to you, and signed in, there should be no issue. I've never had a single problem on KS like that.

Drew Bedo
23-Jun-2016, 09:26
Drew, I think what you want is this, the 10th pledge on the right:

Pledge $175 or more

RICH: LARGE FORMAT MERCURY, Batch Two

ESTIMATED DELIVERY:
Mar 2017
SHIPS TO:
Anywhere in the world
Limited (61 left of 80) • 19 backers

And then add $20 for an "additional lens kit."

Zach has been very responsive to questions as well.

Thanks Bryan: Its not them, Its ME.

Found the option you describe, but can't find what what includes. The $200 buy-in is very attractive depending on what constitutes the package.

LF photography is a snap compared with navigating these busy pages . . .and again,,Its ME.

Corran
23-Jun-2016, 09:33
I believe all of the packages include a front lens component (helical, mount, and maybe a spacer), a main "body" which the front and rear components attach to, and then a back, which can be either a 120 Graflok or 4x5 Graflok (or Instax back, digital back connector, etc.).

I do think the package selections are a bit confusing. The "Batches" don't make a lot of sense. They probably could've condensed them to be a bit clearer. So maybe it's not all on you! :)

Drew Bedo
23-Jun-2016, 09:57
Well I did verify the e-mail, yet when I returned to the KS page it did it again. Ok, so a good bit later now I've done it again and got through on the KS page and dropped them a message. thanks for helping.

I have sent a PM through LFP here with my e-mail address, so maybe that will work.

If I can get a package set up for a 90mm or 150mm lens(what I already have) with a x45 back all for $200 . . .I'll pledge for that.

Drew Bedo
24-Jun-2016, 05:12
Zach has sent me a detailed PM with all the info I need. My thanks.

plywood
24-Jun-2016, 06:40
I backed the basic Razza kit which I intend to use with a 105mm f4.5 Kodak Anaston lens off of a Kodak 6X9 folder. Then I'll fetch a graflex 23 roll film back to complete the configuration. It would make sense that a kit could not be supplied unless they knew the FFD of the lenses you intend to use, and of course their mounting diameters. For my TW 90 I am using a Kodak 130mm f7.7 from a old 1A folder that had a broken strut and a trashed bellows. I built an extension back out of (what else) 6mm hobby plywood that is secured to the camera with rubber bands. Total extension from the TW DDS mounting surface is 36mm. The lens is not really made for 4X5 but centered it just about covers without too much fall off.

Andrew O'Neill
24-Jun-2016, 10:52
This is definitely different...

Corran
28-Jun-2016, 08:46
5 days to go on this KS, about $10,000 shy. Personally I went ahead and pledged more to get a bunch of the accessory add-ons which I think I would want anyway, and his prices are quite good. In fact, if I understand correctly the ground glass part should work for the TravelWide since it's just an insert.

I hope they make it.

plywood
28-Jun-2016, 13:05
I hope so also. But I think this is a tough sell. It is hard to visualize a complete setup. I backed early, got the basic setup for a lens and 2x3 roll film back. I already have the lens and I think all I'd need is a roll film back and some kind of viewfinder which I think I can make up out of stuff I have on hand. Less than 5 days to go now.

zhorton
30-Jun-2016, 20:58
Hi Folks,

A big thanks to all of the LFP folks here who have backed the Mercury Kickstarter! Your support, requests, and suggestions have been invaluable!

Corran, our 4x5 ground glass is designed to lock into a standard Graflok 45 camera back. I don't know if it would work with the Travelwide or not, but it is thin and light, and so might slip in...

plywood, every Mercury kit comes with a simple sportfinder. Each lens kit comes with the proper reticule for it (they are interchangeable).

Here's an announcement: To help boost the campaign toward our goal, I've decided to offer our Instax Wide Back for Graflok 45 (i.e., our large format version, only recently finished) as a standalone reward (without a complete camera). It costs $270, and will mount on any standard Graflok 45 camera back. It is heavily adapted from a Belair instant back. It includes a darkslide and sits 20mm farther back than the standard film plane. Thus you will need an additional set of infinity stops (or one less front spacer on the Mercury).

Because this is technically part of the Mercury Kickstarter, I haven't started a new thread here, but because it is an entirely different product (a stand alone, one of a kind item), it may be of general interest to LFP members, so it should probably be posted or at least mentioned in some other thread. I'll leave that to others, though, as I don't want to get too self-promotional here!

Note that this item costs less if purchased as an add-on to a Mercury camera kit. The $270 price is if this is the only reward selected by the backer. Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,
Zach

brucetaylor
2-Jul-2016, 14:38
Just backed it. I have so many bits and pieces (lenses, viewfinders, backs, etc) it should be easy to put together an interesting camera. My 101mm Ektar sits unused in my Baby Speed Graphic (Graflex back so sheet film only), I would love to see it in use again.

plywood
3-Jul-2016, 02:31
The insomniac here. Local time 2:18 AM and I just checked this KS campaign. Yeah! Just over the 50K, now we will see what transpires in the coming year. Congratulations Zach, there were the usual naysayers but I'm glad it has come through. Strangely, for a film camera project not as much chatter on the film photography forums as I would have thought, but I think many have become more cautious and realistic regarding crowd funding. At any rate, now I can start shopping for a roll film back.

Corran
3-Jul-2016, 17:27
Glad they made it. Will be very interested to try this out.

zhorton
4-Jul-2016, 17:12
Yes, we did it! A big thanks to everyone on this forum who backed, shared, and offered their support! I also appreciated the many discussions and suggestions in this thread and elsewhere, which will help guide the future of the Mercury. Get that roll film back ready, plywood!

Drew Bedo
5-Jul-2016, 11:28
Zhorton: Congrats on making the goal.

Your advice tome on how to structure a pledge to meet my needs was helpful.

Sadly, I couldn't get my resources lined up in time to make a commitment in time.

Your offering seems to be even more attractive or cost-effective lately as two different TravelWide body-only kits have gone off on The-Bay at +$300. the latest one (today) went for $350. this for a camera with very few features (by design).

redrockcoulee
5-Jul-2016, 15:10
I backed it and then went back and added stuff to over double my commitment. Zach you were very prompt and helpful in answering questions. For a little while I was not sure you would reach the goal. My wife now says it is a Christmas gift to each other. The problem is once she gets interested in a piece of equipment she hogs it when we go out shooting but that is still far better than telling me I have too many cameras.

Ivan

zhorton
5-Jul-2016, 22:00
Zhorton: Congrats on making the goal.

Your advice tome on how to structure a pledge to meet my needs was helpful.

Sadly, I couldn't get my resources lined up in time to make a commitment in time.

Your offering seems to be even more attractive or cost-effective lately as two different TravelWide body-only kits have gone off on The-Bay at +$300. the latest one (today) went for $350. this for a camera with very few features (by design).


Hi Drew,

Don't worry, we will open up some form of pre-order store soon, and you'll have another chance. You'll be in line after the KS backers, of course, but all is not lost! ;) That's really crazy about the Travelwide sales. That's over twice the price of a Mercury, and as you say, it can do very little in comparison...

Cheers,
Zach

zhorton
5-Jul-2016, 22:08
I backed it and then went back and added stuff to over double my commitment. Zach you were very prompt and helpful in answering questions. For a little while I was not sure you would reach the goal. My wife now says it is a Christmas gift to each other. The problem is once she gets interested in a piece of equipment she hogs it when we go out shooting but that is still far better than telling me I have too many cameras.

Ivan

Hi Ivan,

Our Kickstarter film predicted this situation, so don't say we didn't warn you! ;)

But seriously, my gratitude to you and your wife for supporting the campaign!

letchhausen
22-Jul-2016, 15:14
Somehow I missed that there was a ground glass. I like the idea of there being a longer lens availability. My gripe with the Travel Wide was that 90mm is too wide. In fact for me 150mm is too wide but doable for a small camera like this. But I didn't see a GG on the listing and I'm not focusing anything without a GG. I'll keep a watch out for the preorder.