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Photographer builds world’s first 4×5 film camera with AF, hybrid finder and universal lens mount

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Aleksi Koski has designed and built the Conflict AF45 camera, which is currently in a functional prototype stage, and he believes it’s the world’s first autofocus-enabled 4×5 film camera. It uses a laser-based focusing system that’s accurate to around 1-2mm. The camera’s focus pull is 62mm, enabling close focus to about 50cm with a 150mm lens and 10-20cm on a wide-angle lens. The lens range is 65-150mm.

Koski has been shooting large format film cameras for nearly two decades and has designed the Conflict AF45 to be his ideal camera. It allows you to easily calibrate frame lines for specific lenses and formats, allowing for accurate frame lines for formats as large as 6×12. Koski designed the back for Grafmatic/Kinematic multi-shot holders, but it also accepts regular double-sided, Polaroid and roll film holders. The camera has an integrated semi-spot light meter that automatically calculates bellows extension. The camera also includes a built-in accelerometer and gyro for an electronic horizon, is equipped with Wi-Fi, and includes upgradeable firmware.

We asked Koski about his camera’s design, and he said, ‘I’m aiming for a certain look, what I call ‘Batman’ design, like Contax SLR cameras or the 645 Fuji rangefinder/zone focus cameras. I really want [the Conflict AF45] to have a certain look…I want a ‘contemporary’ look to it…It needs to have this utilitarian, brutalism and Batman-inspired look to it.’

Learning 3D design has been one of the most challenging parts of the Conflict AF45 project

Concerning materials, the current prototype features 3D-printed elements. Koski said that the most challenging part of creating the Conflict AF45 has been learning to do 3D design. The next version of the prototype will get closer to the final design, which Koski intends to make commercial available, and will ‘likely’ be SLS printed. Koski considered aluminum for the body, but he’s not certain about it yet. He also intends to use a lot of carbon fiber.

Sample image shot with the Conflict AF45. Image credit: Aleksi Koski / Conflict

There’s no doubt that designing a camera, especially one that combines large format analog photography with more modern technology, is challenging, so what was Koski’s primary motivation for his project? ‘The primary motivation to create it was my own work. I’ve been shooting LF for at least 15 years. And most of that time I wanted to shoot handheld…I needed something I could carry along always. So essentially I created the 45AF to solve all the problems I had encountered while shooting LF.’

Conflict AF45 viewfinder

Problems that Koski’s encountered include focusing. ‘Focusing is insanely difficult to hit, even if you are shooting at F11-F16.’ He also solved issues with the viewfinder. ‘This is probably the most important part,’ Koski told us, ‘There are no handheld LF cameras that have accurate frame lines. The usual Polaroid 110 conversion, for example, has frame lines for the intended film and lens. But once those are converted, the frame lines are wrong.’ The Conflict AF45 also overcomes issues with lens selection. ‘In my system, you can calibrate as many lenses into it as you want. So you can finally switch lenses.’ Koski has also created a universal lens mount system, allowing for compatibility with different large format cameras.

Sample image shot with the Conflict AF45. Image credit: Aleksi Koski / Conflict

We asked Koski what he thinks the most impressive feature of his camera is, and while he thinks the finder is critical, the ability to quickly and accurately be able to use different lenses helps set the Conflict AF45 apart from other large format cameras. By using a system-wide approach, Koski hopes to ‘bring back the 4×5 press camera.’ You can use the Conflict AF45 quickly, handheld and with different lenses, plus you have autofocus and accurate frame lines. That’s considerable flexibility and versatility for a large format camera.

For more information and to stay up to date with Aleksi Koski’s Conflict AF45 project, follow the project on Instagram and YouTube.


All images courtesy of Aleksi Koski / Conflict


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