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Underline series

Introduction

Welcome to Underline, the first of many to look at some of the important people in the photography world. In this issue we concentrate on innovation.

Let’s face it film technology is old, but let’s not get caught up in nostalgia.  Its now 2019 and a very exciting time to be involved in the world of film. But the industry still has some problems out there waiting for people to solve (since most manufacturers have gone).  One of these problems as agreed by many – is the humble camera.

Think about it, cameras and some photography equipment too have not been manufactured in decades.  This will at some point become a problem, because the supply of old equipment will dry up.

In the world of large format photography that have been companies come and go, just like any other format. But in the last few years there has been a shift in large format photography, probably due to an evolution of materials.  What i’m talking about there is the world of plastics, how our world has moved to this material and how it’s provided extra choice.

Of course materials have changed throughout history from choices like wood or metals (steel/aluminium) and now it is the time of plastics (acrylic in this case).   Although it’s common knowledge that plastics have their bad sides – we’ve all seen the news about plastic bags in the oceans. But in the large format photography industry innovators like Steve Lloyd have used these modern materials and carried large format in to a new era .

I was very fortunate to interview Steve Lloyd during late 2018 about this camera and his ongoing projects.  This article will touch on some of this but is designed to provide you with interesting information on Steve, his work, ethos and life.

Steve Lloyd

steve lloyd the innovator - selfie

By the day Steve works in I.T., but by night he is a mad inventor and engineer.  He is also approachable and friendly, which could be something to do with being a scouser (someone from Liverpool).  Family is important to Steve, so he has to manage his time between work, family, Chroma and other secret projects (keep reading).

Steve has many ideas and even shares pictures of these on his Flickr account (see link at bottom).  He’s tinkered with a variety of projects including merging an instax back to a TLR, A 6X9 3D printed camera or re-skinning cameras.  He has so many different ideas, the world needs more people like Steve. Of course, his main idea (Chroma camera) is where everybody knows him from – which was to build an affordable large format camera.

For anyone already invested in large format, you will often see Steve on some of the larger forums (Facebook groups included).  He’s nothing but a kind individual who offers help and useful tips to all.

The camera

Lot’s of you may have already heard of Steve’s kickstarter project from 2018 (link here).  But in essence he wanted to build:

  • Low cost camera
  • Working model ready for shipping
  • Foldable + light weight
  • Good range of movements
  • Colour choice
  • Future upgrades

Of course there are naysayers out there and will always oppose new and lightweight materails for building cameras.  We are not here to compare the ability, quality or features of the camera (plenty of you have already done this). Just check his Chroma kickstarter page for more details on the camera and what it can and can’t do.

In brief, it’s a fully functioning large format camera, it has a bellows made from nylon, a lensboard (Steve recommends lens in the 120-150mm length) and it practically folds flat.  Because of the material choice it is lightweight and folds very small, which is useful.

steve lloyd the innovator - picture of camera

(Beta version of camera folded flat – picture courtesy of Steve Lloyd)

What is unusual to most large format cameras is the choice of colours, because Steve is using acrylic.  Just look at his Instagram feed to see some of these variations (there are a few special editions there too).

I suspect from Steve’s comments and interest in large format, he will come up with some extras to his camera in due course.  At the time of writing February 2019 he’s still finishing building the Chroma orders from Kickstarter, so we can only see where he will go.

You can tell he has put his heart and soul into the camera, with so many different iterations and testing.  He’s been intelligent and prudent in his work and utilised his contacts to help beta test his camera (including the lovely Rachel from the Sunny 16 podcast).

The future

To try and define what Steve will do in the future is simple – more quality work. People like Steve don’t just do projects, they have many many ideas. Luckily for us sometimes they are viable and although Chroma was the first, he won’t stop there.

It’s now common knowledge he’s working with Jason Lane (of Pictoriagraphica) to make plate holders for large format cameras. Again this is another missing element and currently, you are reliant on eBay or a lucky find in a shop. With these 2 guys working on this together, I have no doubt, they will be successful and launch something later this year.

Conclusion

The world needs innovators and inventors like Steve Lloyd.  At the end of the day, Steve found a problem, engineered a solution and delivered something at low cost. This is quite amazing considering the lack of resources one man has compared to the industry giants of yesteryear. Another difference was Steve’s ethos from the very beginning – he was delivering a fully working product, not a prototype, like so many other Kickstarter projects.

Steve’s undertaking and achievement is amazing, a one man inventor, tester and builder.  The care he puts in to testing and building the cameras, and working this around his job, just shows how well organised he is.  I just see so much success for him in the future, with us the general public being the the main benefactors of his work.

For anyone considering large format, please do not hesitate to check out the Chroma camera. If you have any questions get in contact with him, he’s a truly sociable person and will respond.  

I wish Steve all the best for the future and suspect their will be many adventures from him soon.  

steve lloyd the innovator

If you liked this work check out my podcast show “Phlogger presents”, where you will see guests every week just like Steve Lloyd.  To listen to Steve’s interview please click on the link above, where we discuss all things camera related, his love of magnets and listen to my random question section (for a bit of fun).

Keep watching out for future “Underline” articles coming your way soon. Don’t forget to sign up the newsletter and in the meantime – keep shooting!

Remember “be true”.

Phlogger


LINKS

Chroma camera website

Chroma camera Instagram

Chroma kickstarter project

Steve’s Lloyd Flickr


Recent work

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