If there’s one thing that’s absolutely clear this year… it’s that retro is definitely making a comeback. From retro music being revisited in TikTok reels to old movies getting remakes and sequels (I meant the Matrix; there are no Spiderman spoilers in this house), people are increasingly appreciating the vintage, the old, the classic. I only hope that this trend works for tech too because there’s truly something beautifully simple about technology from the years gone by.
Take cameras, for instance. The most popular camera (the one on your phone) is also the most complex one. From its ridiculously tiny hardware to its incredibly complex underlying software, the camera in your pocket might be tiny but it’s far from simple. Retro cameras, on the other hand, were designed to be easy to understand, repair, and reuse. It’s no wonder that you could restore a camera from the 40-50s today and it would still work like a charm! Meet Woodsum, a camera that champions this very simplicity. Designed to work without batteries, the Woodsum camera captures images on a 35mm reel of film. It uses a pinhole lens instead of those fragile glass lenses… and it’s a device so simple, you could literally build it yourself. In fact, Woodsum comes absolutely unassembled and your first photography project is, in fact, to build the camera!
Entirely made from laser-cut pieces of wood that you assemble together, the camera comes complete with a pinhole lens, shutter, viewfinder, film-holder and winder, camera grip, a tripod mount, and even an eyelet to tie your camera-hanging leash around! It uses no lenses (thanks to the pinhole construction) and works completely without batteries or electrical components.
The Woodsum looks and functions exactly as an analog camera would. Press the shutter button down and the shutter opens to let light onto the film. You can manually control exposure by holding the shutter button for as long as you want. Get your hands on a tripod and the Woodsum camera can work in low-light settings without a flash too – just expose the film for longer! The pinhole lens allows for some eerily beautiful color pictures that have a true vintage feel (something you’d find in obscure Instagram filters), and the overall process helps you understand the basic tenets of photography, like aperture, exposure, shutter speed. It also looks like a wonderful vintage camera, with a solid build thanks to the laser-cut wood, and possesses the rare IKEA-esque feature of actually encouraging people to build out their own gadgets from scratch, so they love and cherish them even more! A perfect camera for shutterbugs, hipsters, analog-lovers, curious learners, and DIY enthusiasts, the Woodsum camera comes in 3 different retro colors to choose from!