Bigshot Camera


Bigshot Camera

Designed by Columbia University professor Shree Nayar first and foremost as an educational toy, the Bigshot camera project is turning out to be something altogether more alluring. The camera is, in the vain of Lego and IKEA furniture, to be built from scratch from pre-fabricated pieces. But quite unlike the iconic Scandinavians (especially the latter), its building fosters an understanding of a process, which despite its ubiquity, remains an opaque demi-mystery to the greater majority of humanity. Quite simply, the plastic and silicone components that make up this elemental DIY digital camera teach principles of optics and mechanics and thereby help to demystify the black boxes that are most point-and-shoot digital cameras.

And with analog photography’s recent explosion into the zeitgeist as an indispensable branch of photography for connoisseurs (as opposed to an anachronistic form of it), companies like Lomography and, more recently, The Impossible Project have sprung up to answer the call of the legions of nouveau-analog warriors. Along these lines in the parallel digital world, a quiet low-fi movement has also taken place, with serious photography being done on mobile phone cameras, with cheap fisheye lenses and with specialty cameras that replicate everything from Quaker Oatmeal pinholes to Soviet rangefinders.

Analogue or not, however, Bigshot is a break-the-mould original, that despite its stated target, is sure to be one rugged, elemental and satisfying image-making tool. For everyone interested in a more direct relationship with their images, regardless of age. Cheeky touches abound, such as a way-cool manual crank that allows for its use even if the main battery is drained, and the camera’s website provides how-to advice for using the camera as a periscope, kaleidoscope and basic pinhole. Most interesting in its functionality, however, are its three lenses that give the little pistol a virtuoso versatility.

There is, however, one gigantic catch: although it continues to undergo continual development and refinement by its creator and his team, the Bigshot project has yet to secure financing (or a corporate sponsor willing to commercialise it) and thus, remains a prototype in search of a home. Anticipation has mounted as the good word spreads, and we’re crossing our fingers and throwing in our voice in praise. We’ll take one for the Bureau in basic black, and can’t wait to tinker and tape. And toy around. (Ha!)

Tag Christof, Images courtesy Bigshot project