Who needs an enlarger when you have an old camera and an iPhone?

I made an enlarger out of an old camera and an iPhone!

Okay, I actually did this last summer; I’m only just now getting around to writing it up. The camera is a Pentax K-1000. The negative is going to go right where the film normally goes. Note the cable release holding the shutter open in bulb mode, and notice how the eye piece of the viewfinder sticks up off of the camera back.

Camera in place ready for the enlarger head

Here is the cut out on the enlarger head (made out of black foamcore and paper tape) that will fit over the viewfinder.

Notch cut out of foamcore to fit over eyepiece of camera

Another piece of foamcore taped into place served as the negative carrier to help hold the negative flat.

Negative "carrier"

Here you can see the iPhone. The light is magenta because of the contrast filter I put into place. Note the aluminum foil lining the enlarger head box, I was going for a diffusion head, obviously. The iPhone is running some random free flashlight app with the brightness cranked to full.

There's the iPhone

And, with the enlarger head in place:

DIY enlarger closeup

Here’s a side view. This is the height I needed for an in-focus 5×7. Note that I don’t have the option of moving the lens closer or farther away from the negative, but I did have some focusing adjustments on the lens itself.

Side view

Another view. The camera is just sitting on those rails, it’s not attached or taped or anything. I was just very careful around it. Also the rails aren’t taped or held to the books in any way. (I used volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica as well as a couple of copies of Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, and kept swapping out different volumes of the encyclopedia until both sides were the same height.)

Also note that I optimistically had my grain enlarger out. In reality, the light from the iPhone was far, far too dim to use it. I had to just peer at the image and I spent about five minutes cursing and fiddling and trying to get it in focus.

DIY enlarger

So, you may be wondering how did it go? I forgot how I originally calculated how much light was coming off of the iPhone and how long I would need to expose the paper for, taking into account the super reciprocity failure. I did a series of test strips, and 8 minutes seemed to be right, but after I developed the 8 minute exposure it was too light so I settled on 10 minutes. In hindsight 10 minutes was also probably too short and maybe I should have gone with 12. Oh, the enlarger lens was a 50mm f/2, and I did the picture stopped down to f2.8.

I did three prints after all of the test strips and experimenting — it was a long night!

Washing the resulting prints

I already gave most of the prints away to family and friends, and the only one I have left is at work. I’ll have to bring it home and scan it in so you can see it here. It turned out REALLY nice, I was surprised how three dimensional the print is in real life. It is maybe a little light however, and looks better when it’s dimly lit.

I actually have a real enlarger now but my enlarger lens totally sucks. I can’t get as good results with it as I got with this totally ad-hoc setup!


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