Marquardt International Pinhole - The Story

Hand-made in Germany
"Sometimes a dream
has to take three years

three years
from the moment
it was dreamt
to the moment
it becomes reality

and then you realize
that all the setbacks
all the rework
were a necessity to arrive
at the pinhole camera
of your dreams"

— Chris Marquardt
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The story of the MIP began near the Black Forest, in Tübingen, Germany. Back in 2010, Chris Marquardt began to explore pinhole photography and fell in love with it, building his own cameras out of cardboard boxes and other materials. Early 2011 the MMP disposable matchbox pinhole ("Marquardt Mini Pinhole") was one of those fun projects that helped form his wish for something bigger and bolder.
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Over the months, the wish for a more permanent and beautiful version of a pinhole camera grew much bigger and eventually Chris teamed up with furniture maker Jürgen Suhr, who happened to also be an architect, photographer and artist.

The first MIP prototypes were born.
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It quickly became clear that pinhole photography and the 4x5" large format were a wonderful combination. The MIP would have to be compatible with the international standard for large format backs to support different kinds of film holders, including polaroid backs and roll film backs. Ideally even digital scanning backs.
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The first tests quickly established that the concept worked beautifully. They also showed that there was more to be done in terms of international back compatibility and hardware. It became clear that the MIP wouldn't be a mass market item and that all the camera parts needed to be custom-made. It became also clear that the goal for the MIP was to become the purest of cameras, the archetype of the pinhole camera, reduced to the max, while made at the highest possible quality.

At this point the most critical puzzle pieces were the pinhole holder, the tripod mount and the yet to be devised film holder attachment system. The ready-made solutions available on the market were good, but not good enough. Chris began the search for a fine mechanic who was willing to make highly precise parts in very small numbers. A search that should eventually take over a year.
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Another unsolved piece of the puzzle was to find a way to attach film backs of different sizes to the camera. Again, the attachment systems available on the market were either complicated or didn't fit the simple design.

On the early prototypes, Chris had used simple rubber bands, which worked great. They were flexible enough to hold different size backs, but they also were pretty ugly.

In the end the rubber bands helped steer Chris' thoughts towards the system that is now in place: a leather-tipped elastic system that is strong enough to safely hold regular film casettes while being flexible enough to adapt to bigger attachments like Polaroid backs.

To produce the strap system, Chris managed to find a German saddler who specialized in custom car and motorbike seats.
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In a strike of luck, Chris and Jürgen found one of the best fine mechanics they could wish for, and so the project finally started to come together in late 2013.
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Ten MIPs have now been built, each from a different type of wood, each being a one-of-a-kind piece of wonderful German craftsmanship.

And yes, sometimes a dream really has to take three years to arrive at the point where it feels just perfect.

The MIP is here.
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