Rediscovering the Wanderlust Travelwide as a 4×5 Pinhole Camera

In 2013, Wanderlust Cameras launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a 4×5 box camera with a helix focusing system, called the Travelwide. The Travelwide was made from injection molded ABS plastic and designed to work with a Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8 lens. An adaptor for a wider fixed focus version, built around the Schneider Super Angulon 65mm ƒ/8, was produced as a later add on. A 0.3175mm pinhole insert came with the camera, so that you could start shooting immediately. It was one of the first of the recent wave of affordable large format cameras, and it was my first large format camera. At $149, the camera cost less than the Schneider Angulon 90mm ƒ/6.8 they recommended pairing it with.

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My Travelwide fitted with a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm ƒ/8. At the time, I could not find the ƒ/6.8 lens anywhere because all the other Travelwide owners had scooped them up. The larger 90mm ƒ/8 lens made the camera very front heavy.

I backed the Travelwide in 2013 and waited, and waited, and waited. The project was plagued with production issues, but Wanderlust Cameras was determined to get it right. It was actually informative how they turned their production setbacks into a learning experience.

Towards the end of 2015, my Travelwide arrived unexpected in the mail. While my enthusiasm had waned somewhat over the two years it took for the camera to arrive, I decided it was a perfect fit for a “52 Rolls” project I was joining in 2016. The idea behind “52 Rolls” is to shoot and post one “roll” of film, every week, for a year. For large format, I interpreted a “roll” to mean the two sheets of 4×5 film held in a single standard film carrier. If you haven’t done something like this before, it is a great exercise to get one in the habit going out and shooting frequently.

The pinhole insert provided by Travelwide has a diameter is 0.3175mm. That corresponds to a range of f-stops depending on the position of the focusing helix.

  • ƒ/283 at 90mm (helical fully retracted)
  • ƒ/346 at 110mm (helical fully extended)
  • ƒ/205 at 65mm (with 65 Conversion Kit)

From the f-stop I calculate the length of the exposure using a handheld light meter.

In the past I’d found 35mm and medium format pinhole images unsatisfying. That changed when I started making large format pinholes.

Here are three examples below, made at the Fort Lancaster recreation. The Fort Lancaster recreation was created by the The South Platte Valley Historical Society using building methods of the 1840’s, and adjacent to its original location. The trading fort is located in what is now Fort Lupton, Colorado.

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These images were made on the now discontinued Fuji ACROS Neopan 100 because of its reciprocity characteristics. The film underwent standard development with Clayton F76+ developer.

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