Yoshizen's Blog

Yoshi-Handy / Handmade Fish-eye Photos

Those photos were taken by my handmade camera which was nick-named as Yoshi-Handy, by the Director of the Pentax Gallery in Tokyo, Mr. Taizo Nakamura, named after eary1910’s camera style called Handy-Camera, because of its square shape. (Why called handy was = most of other camera then were big wooden camera, not possible to use by hand-held) And the photos here were shot in the north of Thailand, so-called Golden Triangle area in the 70s. I rediscovered this Camera in a box when I needed to find the Side-view Prism adapter (ultra low-angle adapter), a month ago.

I went up north of Thailand, from Cheng-Mai to Cheng-Lai then took a boat to further north and started to climb the mountain, going through many mountain tribe’s villages. I went there with a local guide who came back after working in the Vietnam war hence able to speak in English and having a hand gun.

The purpose was, I wanted to interview and photograph General Twan, an exiled Chinese Army of Chang Kai-sheck who proclaimed to be an anticommunists warrior though, in reality he was the Drug Baron dominating the Opium trade there then. But, we had to abandon the plan as the guide noticed a hatred of those Chinese called Kuomin-tan toward Japanese. = Yes, I realized that the Japanese was the enemy of the Chang Kai-sheck Army and they are still armed, and they made a gesture to swing a hand on the neck (mean cut off the head) or aiming me a hand with pointing finger (mean shoot with a gun).  (Strangely, they seemed to know that I’m a Japanese at once  may be because of my camera).

With after thought, it seemed, I was rather lucky to come back alive, since about the same time an American who went into the same area had been killed by his own guide. = may be my guide saw my strange handmade camera and a huge Pentax 6×7, they couldn’t be sold easily,  therefore not worthwhile to rob and he might have me spared.  🙂

So, I came back from Thailand with 100s roles of films which has been survived even under intense heat and completely soak wet condition. Without capturing General Twan’s photo, rest was mostly shot in Bangkok and its surrounding poor area. It was one of my most adventurous journey in my photographic life. ( It was really a fun )

A month after the shooting, to see the developed results was the most thrilling moment, having a butterfly in the stomach. (— in comparison, DSLR camera has no such intense moment = if no good, just click again on the spot = crucial excitement has lost in the game. :-D)

(Note: The lens fitted here (photo left) is Nikkor Fish-eye 16mm f3.5 with its lens-hood removed)

The camera Yoshi-handy is a very simple camera = Lens > Shutter > Role-film Holder, that’s all. Only unique structure was, the front panel with SLR’s Square-Shutter and the rear panel with Film-Holder was connected with adjustable 4 individual screws, hence the Lens can be tilted to any angle up to 30 degrees.

Lens mount was Nikon though, as the distance from the lens to film is adjustable = any lens with Nikon mount can be used.   Hence, I mainly used Pentax 17mm F4 Fish-eye, PC Nikkor 35mm F2.8 and Pentax 15mm F3.5 (Those Pentax lenses were used with handmade mount adapter).  Though, to have a focus from infinity to almost lens front surface with 30 degree tilt, Copal Square-Shutter had to be modified to make its one-side thinner.

In certain view, to use those 35mm Camera lenses on 2-1/4 or 6×6 format had merely enabled to use the surrounding image circle outside of 35mm format = hence

Fish-eye image become whole circular image though, on that time, there was no

Circular Fish-eye lens for 6×6 medium format camera in the world, let alone

a camera which can focus from infinity to life-size close-up in one shot.

(Only a short-coming of this camera was, as it is using Grand Glass for focus = then change to film-Holder,  it needs the camera fixed on a tripod,  otherwise take a photo while guessing the distance by eyes and set a distance ring manually. = still, once get used, it can be done with ease.  —– A kind of view finder was made out of ubiquitous Door-scope.

= cheap yet good enough for the purpose. 😀 )

This unusual camera with its strange photographs were taken and featured in the British Journal of Photography (17 Dec’ 1976 issue) and exhibited in the Pentax Gallery, then it appeared in the Zoom magazine internationally.(in English = 1978 Oct/Nov issue)

( The another Camera I’ve mentioned in this blog before, Conica Tilt II  was a camera to create the effects of 30 degree tilt, with the convenience of SLR)

Incidentally, the sample photos above were just hand-held digital copy of the 6×6 transparencies on a florescent tube light box = even without dust off, quality may not be as good as done by a proper scanner —– still usable enough for the blog size.

= I’m wondering if it was done by Nikon D810’s HDR function, would the result be much better ? = I’ll test it soon.

17 Responses

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  1. Lemony (Gr)Egghead said, on October 14, 2012 at 20:35

    You’re so resourceful, Yoshi-sensei. I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. It’s amazing those rolls of film survived!

  2. yoshizen said, on October 14, 2012 at 21:46

    The film lab’ said, some 35mm films had stacked though, amazingly the 120 role-films
    which had been kept in a tin-box had survived better. Plastic bag wasn’t good as
    with capillary tube effect, the water was gradually penetrated inside.
    As in a tropical country, when it’s rain it is REALLY heavy rain = a road became
    a river with strong torrent.

  3. drawandshoot said, on October 15, 2012 at 17:43

    Yoshizen, such a fascinating post! You have led an interesting life.
    And these sort of pictures are also very interesting.

  4. yoshizen said, on October 15, 2012 at 18:09

    Thank you Karen. I know, my kind of life may not to be the most of the people’s cup of tea though,
    without having it and get first hand proof myself, this blog wouldn’t have born. (That’s why I said
    before, it was a destined Karma. 😀 )

  5. jagan said, on October 17, 2012 at 07:36

    a delight to see these snapshots & magazine clips

  6. elenacaravela said, on October 18, 2012 at 23:25


    • yoshizen said, on October 18, 2012 at 23:37

      Thank you Elena.
      It’s not much technical marvels there, and not very difficult to do,
      but only handful people actually bothered to do in the world. That’s all.

  7. […] photo above was taken by my hand made camera called Yoshi-handy,  […]

  8. Color of Flash-light | Yoshizen's Blog said, on August 31, 2013 at 00:16

    […] (This is the Ring-flash I made for the photos which was published in the Zoom Magazine. […]

  9. Ring Flash / Flash Story | Yoshizen's Blog said, on September 4, 2013 at 11:44

    […] ——– Yoshi-handy handmade camera, 36 years ago !  😀 )  […]

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  11. leczenie boreliozy said, on September 12, 2013 at 10:57

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    • yoshizen said, on September 12, 2013 at 11:08

      Thank you Ronald.
      I remember you here before. 😉

  12. Lucas Heaberlin said, on April 4, 2014 at 07:32

    Quite beneficial, look forwards to coming back

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