instantphoto.eu              Jollylook Cardboard Camera

The Jollylook Cardboard Camera is, as the name says, a vintage style Instant camera for Fuji Instax Mini film made of cardboard. It was a Kickstarter project. Launched in February 2017, it was financed in only 11 hours and should have been delivered in June 2017. By the end of the campaign they received 25 times their goal. Until mid May 2017 all seemed fine. Then there was a long silence from the makers, only a few updates but in June 2018, a year too late, shipping started. The cameras delivered were a disaster, they were nearly all faulty. Production was then moved from China to Ukraine, which improved the quality, but it turned out that there was fraud within the Chinese contractor's firm and the money they had payed in advance was gone. It took another year until June 2019 that the Ukainian production was ready to ship. Then there wasn't enough money to ship the cameras. They decided to sell a part of the production outside of the project and ship to a part of the backers with the money from the sale. By January 2020 still a part of the pledges aren't shipped. Nevertheless they still try hard to get the pledges fullfilled.

They launched a new project for a better, automatic camera made of wood, the Jollylook Auto, launched in February 2020. A small part of the money from the new campaign will go to the fulfilment of the old.

Technical Specifications:

Film Format: Fujifilm Instax Mini Film
Exposure Area: 62mm x 46mm
Lens Focal Length: 110mm (indicated by the makers, but I have doubts, it looks more than the ordinary ~60mm)
Aperture: F8-F64 + pinhole
Shutter Speed: Bulb Mode, 1/250s, 1/160s and T
Film Ejection Mechanism: Hand powered
Multiple Exposures: Unlimited
Tripod Mount: No
No Film Counter
Size: 85 x 127 x 48 mm
Weight: 270 gr.

Some pictures of the camera:

The pledge from Kickstarter...

...in a nice stylish box...

...the cardboard camera protected.

What's in the box. The camera, instructions, elastic band and paper straws. No indications for the use of the straws.

As soon as you unfold the camera, you see the reason for the straws: without, the camera will not keep straight, there are no struts. So there are 4 straws for 4 distance settings.

Camera left side, held open via a straw. This isn't too stable, so handle with care. Ejection handle on the body. The front standard is only guided by 2 sewing threads.

The camera front. On the left side of the front standard: aperture selector an shutter release; on the right selector for shutter or T setting. the lens can be moved up for pinhole setting.

Back side.

Right side, shutter cocked. You pull the finder out of the front standard and the shutter is cocked. The metal pin inserted, as on the photo, slows the shutter from 1/250 to 1/160.

Back open. Only foam as film pressure system.

Just to give you an idea, some photos, taken with the first camera:

First shot on a dull day. F11, infinity, a bit blurry.

Second try. The finder is very approximative. F11, infinity.

Third try. Slight blur, maybe the limits of a single meniskus lens. Infinity. The ejection mechanism isn't reliable. It sometimes moves 2 photos at a time, sometimes a second photo is only moved a bit, as above. Foam instead of springs for the pressure system might not be a good idea.

Test. Ejection of an unexposed photo. All photos have white dots, most probably the rollers are bad.

The straw jumped off, total blur. I gave up.

I bought my camera off Ebay. A very kind seller sent me another one at no costs. The new one is MUCH better than the first one. The rollers are fine. It'also much sharper than the first one inspite of its simple lens. Here are just some photos to show the difference, all photos 1/160s and F 16:

Very cloudy day.

The pictures are sharp now for a simple lens like this.

And no problems with the rollers.

The idea of a simple cardboard camera is tempting. The design is nice and it works well if you have a good one. There are 2 shutter speeds and a wide choice of apertures + a pinhole, much more than most basic Lomo cameras offer.

The finder is only an aiming device, but it helps well.
The front standard is only guided by 2 sewing threads. It's a bit fiddely to extend. There are no struts, so the flap doesn't stay fixed and the standard doesn't stay upright. If you put the straws provided, it keeps if you are used to it, but can easily jump off. The ejection system on my first one was faulty and erratic. The second one is fine. Having several focal length will certainly be fun. As a giveaway for the purchase of 10 or 20 packs of film, this would be a marvellous start for people to get into the basics of photography.

I have subscribed for the new wooden model, which is more sophisticated. That one will  certainly be easier to handle with its automatc shutter and its more rigid body. I look forward to it.