Why box cameras? It's a fair question to ask. Most box cameras are ancient and offer photographers very little control over the final images. Plus they use film! Who still uses film?!? Some might say that they are far more valuable and useful as trendy decor than they are for making photographs.
But this ignores a few facts:
Box cameras ruled the world of photography for nearly 50 years. They were extremely easy to use and for all practical purposes, they were the only type of camera that was affordable by the mass market. Enthusiasts and professionals had other options, to be sure, but for the average folks of the first part of the 20th century, the family camera was a box.
Even today, there are a group of photographers who consider the lack of features to be a real advantage. The "toy camera" movement, as spearheaded by the Diana and Holga cameras, and later by Lomography, has shown clearly that hundreds of thousands of photographers like the serendipity inherent in using equipment that others might consider "sub-par." In fact, the Diana and Holga are box cameras themselves, in all of the most practical ways - and some box cameras have even better features and more controls than the Plastic Fantastics.
120 Film is Alive, Well, and Gaining in Popularity. Here at MFBOXCO, we are focused on the future by digging up these wonderful relics of the past and putting them back into use. To this end, we will only review cameras that use readily available 120 film - and in fact, we'll point out if there are certain models to avoid because they use an extinct film formula. Of course, there are folks out there who respool 620 and make adapters for other types of film - but we have chosen to stay focused on the multitude of 120 cameras.
85 Megapixel Negatives! It's simple math - 6x9 images scanned at 3200dpi make a file of 11339px x 7559px. That's 85 megapixels. It makes a 300dpi print that's a bit over 3ft x 2ft. And that's without touching anything. Get a good drum scan and you could make billboard sized prints without ever needing to enlarge it in Photoshop.
This section features short write-ups about various elements that are common among many box cameras. In addition, we will feature profiles of photographers who love their box.
Here is your chance to upload and share your favorite box camera photos with the MFBOXCO community - or simply scroll through the images to witness the amazing results a box can deliver.
For those who wish to get started using these primitive machines right away, we offer a selection of carefully tested and refurbished cameras, as well as some rare accessories.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different box camera models, but MFBOXCO will focus exclusively on those that can be used with modern 120 films. We will do our best to offer tips to get the best results, and to describe the camera's features in modern terms.
We think many of you may have experience using a particular camera - and we'd love it if you would share with those just getting started. As such, each camera page includes a comments section. Please use this liberally to help us build MFBOXCO into THE resource for everything box.
If you've got more than comments and want to contribute cameras or write-ups directly to the site, please get in touch!