Dora Goodman Talks Open-Source 3D Printed Cameras
We spoke to Dora Goodman, founder of the self-titled company, Dora Goodman Cameras. Goodman and her team are passionate analog photography enthusiasts who conceptualize 3D printed medium format and pinhole cameras, as well as build one-of-a-kind custom film cameras based on their own designs. Based in Budapest, the company is founded on an environmentally conscious and collaborative ethos, wherein the materials used to build the camera are as sustainable as possible while all the files needed for printing are freely accessible to the public.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and your company?
In the beginning, 2016, I started to combine my interests in fashion, handmade designer products and photography. I began working nights in my home workshop, redesigning film cameras using wood veneer and handcrafting leather camera straps. Then I fulfilled requests from fellow film photographs who wanted to personalize their own cameras. Using fine materials such as wood, leather and glass gave me never ending possibilities of creating something unique, something long lasting, something to be treasured; no two cameras were identical. I also made leather camera straps.
3DN: Can you tell us about your products and your link with AM?
I always planned to have my own camera, totally designed and built myself. The first camera I built was made entirely of wood. At the time I was already experimenting with 3D printing, as I was looking for an alternative solution to wood (which was just way too time consuming). We slowly started shifting towards 3D printing, as the technique was rising in popularity quickly. Soon after that we had our very first 3D printed camera- the Goodman One.
Then came the Goodman Axis, and the third was the Goodman Zone that we actually felt that it could be sold on the market, so we decided to fine tune it until a point where it became possible. We started to sell the Goodman Zone in a DIY package in October, 2019. The Scura, our latest camera, came out in March, 2020. The Goodman One, and Goodman Axis are available open source but we never finalised them to the point where we could confidently sell them, so we left this to our community. They are still printing it, developing, improving, fine tuning, and this is what we love about our open source community.
3DN: What are the benefits of using 3D printing? Are there any drawbacks?
Using 3D printing technology gives us the freedom to bring to life our vision of creating beautiful and functional cameras and accessories to fulfill the needs of the community. With the endless possibilities and flexibility 3D printing technology offers, we are not only creating the products that we always wished existed, but are continuously improving and fine tuning our designs with the community’s needs in mind. Whenever we have an idea, it is just a matter of time, but we can make it real and see if that actually works or not. The best part is that your ideas can materialize in a day or two.
As a drawback I would mention that it is very time consuming. To get a good prototype usually takes months, and also a lot of investment into the material, because you have to keep on trying and trying, printing thousands of versions, to see what works and what doesn’t. And maybe you think your plan is already great, it takes 20 hours to print it and then it turns out it is still not great enough. So you need a lot of patience and time. Also not to mention when something goes wrong with the machine (we do not use big industrial machine), you start printing in the evening, hoping to get a result by the morning, and when you check in the morning you realize something went off. So you try again from the beginning.
3DN: Could you tell us a bit about the printers and materials you use?
There are different kinds of printing techniques (4-5 types), and every technique has its special materials. From those 4-5 techniques 2 are available for everyone, they are affordable and also there are many materials for them on the market. The other techniques are very expensive. We use the most common technique, the FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling). We chose this method because we wanted to offer a solution available to everyone. As all our files are open source it was very important for us that everyone interested in this topic, can give it a try, and can access a basic 3D printer, so not the most expensive, high-performance one.
We could have used the most professional techniques, but in that case the open source idea would not work, as nobody would have the chance to try it on their own. Currently we use Anycubic i3 Mega printers in our workshop, and we are pretty happy with them. There are several filament materials, from a lot of brands. The most common in our opinion ones are the PAL, PET, and ABS. Also you can find on the market some exotic filaments: mixed with wood, steal, carbon, or lot of different colors, etc. The market is improving really fast, there are many novelties week by week. We use Colorfabb Ngen filament, which is again very affordable and available to everyone.
3DN: Can you tell us a bit about the GoodLAB platform?
We operate with an open source model, since the beginning, basically the open source files are available to everyone if they register as a member to GoodLab. So then everyone can experiment with building and printing their own cameras. But shortly after starting the open source model, we got a lot of requests to purchase our cameras, as they didn’t have access to or didn’t know how to use a 3D printer, so we decided to create DIY packages. We kept them DIY as we really wanted to make people experience the joy of building their own cameras. We believe this makes a special bond between you and your camera, and it is also really enjoyable, it will remind you of your childhood when you were making stuff out of things you just found next to you. And actually we only started to offer the option to get the cameras pre-assembled last December, as we discovered that there is a need in our community for this. DIY is not for everyone, and there is no problem with that. We are trying to focus now on full custom cameras, meaning they come together with the lens and the back, special accessories, and with a custom look. These will be all one of a kind cameras.
3DN: Why did you decide to make your files open source?
The essence of Dora Goodman Cameras is that all our cameras are open source, available for free for everyone, and its not going to change. We love seeing our community improving, modifying, changing our cameras, adding extra ideas or functions. Usually they also share their files with us, which we reshare with the community. We love seeing this cycle and how we build cameras together along with other analog photography enthusiasts.
Also we love the whole process, when you start a new print and then you just sit there for the first 30 minutes, staring at the layers as they pile on top of each other very slowly, the camera gets built by tenths of millimeters and then you see that it really is the one you designed on the computer. Then when the print is ready, you can start to build and assemble your own camera. This is a one of a kind journey for a photographer to experience, a very special flow, and we wanted to share this feeling with the analog community!
3DN: Any last words for our readers?
If you are a photographer, then you need to experience the joy of building your own camera at least once. It will build such a bond between you and your device, you will get to know it much better, and your journey with it will be really special. 🙂
*All photos courtesy of Dora Goodman Cameras
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