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Now on Kickstarter, this low-tech paper camera shoots instant photos without electricity

Why it matters to you

The camera offers an affordable, eco-friendly introduction to photography for kids, students, and lovers of analog tech.

Instant photography has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to remade Polaroid film from the Impossible Project and Fujifilm’s growing line of Instax cameras. The new Jollylook camera, however, is unlike anything we’ve yet seen. Made entirely of recycled cardboard and paper, it uses Instax Mini film but is operated completely by hand without any electronics.

The camera, described as “retro with a little steampunk,” features a red paper bellows system and collapses into a small black box. The film cartridge fits snuggly into the back while a fresnel lens viewfinder lifts up from the front (and shoots back down with the click of the shutter). The camera features a 110mm lens that can be pushed up to turn the Jollylook into a pinhole camera. The aperture can be adjusted from f/8 to f/64.

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For Jollylook’s designer, Oleg Khalip, building the camera to be completely manual without the need for a battery was the primary goal. Two key elements were needed to make this work, including a bespoke shutter mechanism and a rotating handle used to extract the exposed film from the cartridge, both processes controlled by electronic motors in other instant cameras.

“I had to study the structure of many analog cameras before being able to make the shutter,” Khalip said in a statement. “The most difficult part of development was the shutter.”

Obviously, the Jollylook camera is not weatherproof and is intended for use in dry conditions. As an inexpensive alternative to digital point-and-shoots and even other instant cameras, it is intended to provide a fun introduction to photography for children and students. Anyone looking for a way to slow down and practice using a purely analog, all-manual camera may also enjoy it.

In a Kickstarter campaign that went live today, Jollylook is hoping to raise $15,000 in order to scale production and bring the camera to the world. A ‘super early bird’ special, while available, includes both the camera and a single pack of film (10 exposures) as an award for a $29 pledge. After the early bird period, a pledge of $35 nets the same award. As with all crowdfunded projects, potential backers should keep in mind that delivery of the final product is not guaranteed.