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Saturday, November 23, 2013

John Minnicks : The Liberator Camera

In this electronic gizmo, " fits in your pocket " era, John Minnicks reaches into the past to revamp a classic film camera into an art piece that is getting quite a following.

What he wanted was a hand-held 4X5 camera, with some style, with a look…

So he started with the Graflex cameras. The only problem was they wouldn’t accept the 7” F:2.5 lens. The lens with the 3-D look, (the fastest 4X5) that could focus from 3’ to infinity…  {The AERO-EKTAR lenses were used for aerial reconnaissance spy photography in World War II!}

Minnicks modified them to accept the lens by machining the camera. He makes custom-designed bellows, a new mirror-bright screen and a Graflock back, which will accept any 4X5 Polaroid back and roll film backs. 

The lens board has a Tilt & Swing enabling
selective focus. The live image is 4X5 landscape, the short back focus of the lens and the precision size of the body to achieve infinity. Shutter speeds generally range from 1/500-1/30 sec.+ time exp.

Each camera body is unique and special, a bit different because each part is individually designed to suit the camera.

That amazing look is matched with the images achieved with the camera: a hand-held 4X5 with full control of the image.

image by ...©Bernard Testemale

John enjoys working with each client to design his or her personal and unique camera.

( on the right Dave Burnett )

image...©Bernard Testemale

Each one uses different materials and finishes: leathers, exotic leathers, metal finishes, choices of bellows and hood materials…

Prices depend on materials used: lenses, body and parts/materials.
 A basic black leather runs about $3600.00, the Woodies run $6,000.  Due to the amount of custom work and attention to detail and specially machined parts, he can only build a few a year. ( woodies )  -  (Weather conditions affect finishes as well.)

For more information, contact us at:   203-247-3833


  1. It's not only the film that makes this pleasing - the cameras themselves are works of art, art meets function. Sweet.

  2. I just retired my Dad's folding 6 x 9 120 camera yesterday. Film pack and bellows have light leaks. This is the camera my grandfather bought for my Dad on his 24th birthday in 1938. Dad's images are on my blog at I've gone back to our Voigtlander Vito II 35mm folding camera with its Skopar 3.5 lens and leaf shutter. I'd like to buy the new Fuji 6x6-6x7 folding camera. I've read good reviews. My film of choice is still Tri-X which I process and print in my own darkroom. On occasion, I'll shoot infrared film which I really enjoy. It's great to see film/formats "returning" to what was common place not so long ago.
    God bless and be well,
    Hank Webber - Webbers Photography

    1. I have a Fuji 634 folder and I love it; unfortunately because of the materials that they used at the time had bellows light leaks GALOR. I had the bellows replaced by:
      Camera Wiz Repair 645
      169 Pleasant Hill Rd.
      Harrisonburg, Va.
      BE careful!

    2. Fuji 645 folder! Sp.!

  3. Very nice camera, I agree that this is a work of art.

    My film work has narrowed down to large format, as I am seeing less and less advantage in the smaller formats. I'm sure that I will always do pinhole on film, as my results are so much better than when shooting digitallly.

  4. stunning camera! and photos with a truly unmatchable and personal quality.

  5. John, I am so impressed with the quality of your cameras -- they are truly a melding of art and function, which we all strive for.

  6. Mastery is rare, John moves easily in that sphere.

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