Abdallah Kroosh, an update on the Cairo Camera .

by Christopher Osborne.

Abdallah Kroosh is back from a stint offshore, and has been steadily working on the prototype for his “Cairo Camera” 4×5 field camera prototype.


The Cairo Camera prototype with bellows fitted

Abdallah Kroosh is back from a stint offshore and has been steadily working on the prototype for his “Cairo Camera” 4×5 field camera prototype. To recap, this is a modern field camera with all of the movements of a monorail.

Even though we live an hour’s drive away from each other, we have to talk on Zoom because a Covid test is required to drive between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Abdallah and I have been talking about this project from the early concept stages, and I have followed his thinking process as he has progressed from early concepts through to detailed CAD drawings and now on to this prototyping phase.

The purpose of the prototype has been to check that the engineering drawings work in the real world. As a result, focusing knobs have become larger, the front and rear tilt has been redesigned to allow finer movement. Tolerances have been changed to prevent backlash. The swing design is the next candidate for change as Abdallah, ever the perfectionist, now envisages a finer level of control.

And if this seems vaguely familiar, we first reported on this camera in 2020. You can see the article here: https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2020/09/cairo-camera-cutting-metal-on-a-new-4×5-field-camera/

The front and rear stands are assembled, although the gearboxes which will drive the front and rear tilt are yet to be installed on the camera. Several sets of bellows have arrived from Custom Bellows in the UK, and technically the camera can take an image. The folded bellows are 30mm deep and the initial design allowed for 20mm, so some minor rework will be required to allow the camera to fold neatly.

The camera has been tested with a range of lenses, and focusing with a very wide 50mm lens (by large-format standards) without the need for a recessed lens board has been proven. Abdallah has also proven that the camera can focus at close range with lenses up to 380mm without needing a bellows extension.

The tripod mount will slot into rails below the base plate, and this has been cleverly designed to be adjustable to balance the camera with different weight lenses. The tripod plate will slide aft to allow the camera to be folded with a lens still attached.

The Cairo Camera showing rear swing

The bellows is thicker than planned when folded.

Abdallah has three weeks left before he heads back offshore to a different engineering challenge. During this period, the Cairo Camera will take its first image.

We talk about the manufacturing phase. Abdallah’s initial plan had been to manufacture the cameras in a workshop near Alexandria, Egypt. The Pandemic has brought travel back to his native country to a halt, and self-manufacturing now seems out of reach. We discuss outsourcing the manufacturing to a high-quality manufacturer and I am sure that this conversation will continue next time Abdallah returns to dry land. This is such an interesting and well-engineered camera that it deserves to make it to market.

You can read more about the Cairo Camera’s progress at cairocameras.com and follow the progress on Instagram at instagram.com/cairocameras and on YouTube at Trapped Engineer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg7-70dgF21Csiiw7lcJhIA

Images © Abdallah Kroosh 2021.

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