Introduction: The Steampunker's Zenobiaflex One

Dear friends, dear Steampunks around the globe

After many days of hard work in my small hidden laboratory in the Swiss mountains I'm very proud to present you my newest Steampunk Gadget  -  The Steampunker's Zenobiaflex One  -  a digital camera with a very special look and feel.

This project became during the building process more and more complicated. I had many nights without sleep and more than a few times I was close to trash the whole thing...   but finally I made it!

This Instructable should give you an idea how to build your own digital camera. Don't forget that you are working with a very fragile elctronic device, so I recommend you to use a really old digital camera which you really don't need anymore... each step you do could be the last one...

I made this experience! I had to build the camera a second time with a Casio Exilim, because the Sony Camera made it only a few hours after I finished it. So this Instructable shows you the way to do it with the Sony Mavica. May I will show you later the version with the Casio Exilim.

As usual I keep it simple - not too much text and explanations. Feel free to ask if you have some questions.

Step 1: The TLR Camera Zenobiaflex 1 From Daiichi Optical, Japan

There is very limited history detail available for this camera. Dai-ichi seems to have developed this camera in 1947 out of a company called Okada which made medium format folders.
After 1956, it became Zenobia, carrying on the name but for 35mm rangefinders only.
The original Zenobia was a 120 folder from 1949.
The Zenobiaflex One dates from 1953 and seems to have been a solitary TLR for the company. It is quite a nicely made camera, with a solid feel and fast shutter.
Taking lens is Dai-ichi Neo-Hesper 75mm f3.5. Shutter is Dai-ichi Rapid 1 to 1/500.

Step 2: The Digital Parts From an Old Sony Mavica MVC-FD 200

From a friend I got an old nice camera which was ideal for this hack, because of the modular parts. I stripped the camera and took off the Floppy drive, the TFT screen and the flash module. I had luck that the camera was still working without all this parts!!! First I didn't believe it. On the pics you can see al the parts I used to rebuild the camera.

Step 3: Preparing the Body of the Old Zenobiaflex - Inserting the CCD

To mount the CCD into the body I had to remove some parts of the metal inside. It was a little bit a messy work, because it was difficult to reach all the corners inside of the film compartment. The Sony CCD fitted very good...

Step 4: Building the Box for the Electronics

Because there was no way to store all the electronics from the Sony Mavica in the small body of the Zenobiaflex I had to create a new box. In my tin collection of chocolate tins I found the perfect one - from the famous Swiss confectionery "Sprüngli" in Zurich. I repainted the box velvet black and sandpapered the borders, so that they became shining silver again.

Step 5: The Vacuum Tube

First I planned to use the tube as an USB Stick to save the pictures on. But then it became to complicated and I keep the data now on the Sony Memory Stick.
The tube is mounted with FIMO to the fitting and then baked in the oven - an easy way to create nice Steampunk decorations. To finish I mounted an old metal covered cabel between the fitting and the camera....

Step 6: The Lens and the Shutter

Lens and shutter I demounted and took off the optical parts. I replaced the optical lens and mounted the glass of a watch, because the diameter of 25mm was easy available. The camera is now looking thrue this glass, the focussing is working by brightness control, that's why I didn't had to mount some other measuring devices for distance etc.
I removed all the moving parts of the mechanic shutter and putted the whole thing together again. Now the difference to the original lens is difficult to realise....

Step 7: The Finish

Finally I gave my creation the final touch with some brass parts and screws, and a nice leatherstrap (not on the pictures).
Because I didn't change the finder on the top the handling of the camera is still the same as before. You can open the lid on the top and you can see the scene thrue the diffusing screen. Because there is no TFT screen anymore, I switched on all the peeping sounds of the camera - so this sounds guide you thrue the operatings of the camera.

So, that's it! May it sounds a little bit too simple - it was really one of my hardest projects. But the nice thing is, that this Steampunk Zenobiaflex is fully functional and it's fun to go out with it....

More information about my Artwork you will find on my German website


The Chocolatist