My Self Immolating Camera

A small fire inside my large format lumen camera


sonny rosenberg

8/7/20231 min read

This was definitely an interesting morning. I woke up a little earlier than usual this morning and on my way to refill the bird feeder I couldn't help but notice how the black eyed susans were glowing in the bright sunlight. I wondered if a lumen shot of this might be able to capture some of the magic, so I loaded the Cadobo XL (it features a 150mm focal length 100mm diameter glass headlight lens) and set it up in what I thought might be a good spot to capture an interesting image. I decided on an hour exposure since the sun was shining directly into the lens.

After an hour, I brought the camera in to change paper for another shot. It's a good thing I was thoroughly soaking the paper. I smelled a distinct burning smell upon opening the camera. I looked around for the source of the smell, but couldn't find anything. I thought that maybe there was a fire somewhere close and smoke was drifting in through the open windows.

After loading the camera, I placed it for a shot again, this time looking directly away from the sun. After an hour I brought the camera in again, as I was unloading the paper, I smelled the burning smell again. This time I saw it. There were burn holes in one of corners of the film. The earlier exposure had burn holes in two corners, one had even burned through to the film back!

I have to say, this is a scenario I hadn't envisioned, that my camera could gather enough light to immolate itself! I'm not sure how to proceed from here? Maybe reserve this camera for cloudy days?

In any case this should be a caveat for anyone doing long exposures with a large lens and an open aperture (the Cadobo XL is f/2). Don't let your camera set itself on fire!

Maybe a filter would prevent this from occurring? At very least, I will soak the paper very thoroughly before my next shots with this camera.

Note: I left these shots completely uncropped so you can see the burn holes for yourself.