Thursday, 7 June 2018

A couple of new cameras

Ages ago I spotted a picture of a Kumiki-style camera on Bernhard Schweitzer’s site which I subsequently discovered had been designed by William Waite and made by Pelikan. The Camera Conundrum had received an Honourable Mention in the IPP23 Puzzle Design Competition – so I set about trying to find one…

Recently the good folks at the New Pelikan Workshop recreated this old classic and it was briefly available for sale once more – sadly I missed that opportunity and my search continued. But my dogged determination recently paid off when I found a copy of the original Camera Conundrum available for sale… I did not miss out this time! 

Resembling an old instamatic camera with a magicube flash on it [remember those?!] it’s a handsome little puzzle whose aim is disassembly and reassembly, finding a hidden compartment along the way… the coolest thing though is how various actions that you’d associate with those old cameras have been incorporated into the solution. 

At some point during the solution you’ll press the shutter release, manipulate the flash, focus the camera and wind on the film [actual film, remember that?!]. 

Somewhere along the way you’ll discover a drawer with a secret little hidey hole – plenty big enough for a standard ball bearing noise-maker, it turns out. 

Even with a pile of pieces, it’s not horribly complicated to work out where things need to go, and there’s a reasonably logical progression to building up your little camera… you have to love the way William’s made so many of the moves resemble things you’d actually do with these cameras.

The second camera comes from Hideaki Kawashima – one of the indecently talented gentlemen of the Karakuri Group. Back in 2014 he produced a fiendishly difficult Twin Lens Reflex Camera whose second compartment had me baffled, and he’s done it again with his Spring Camera. 

This one resembles an old vintage Voigtlander from around the 1930’s. Once again the detailing on the camera is stunning – you get the impression that lots of the detailing is there purely to make it look the part, but you won’t shake the feeling that some of those little thingies are going to be helpful in opening up this box…

…and so it is – find the right things to do and the front panel opens and the lens unit pops out – all very theatrical… you’ll find yourself closing it up and popping it open over and over again – it’s quite addictive. 

Get that far and you have a wonderfully functional little object… but still no idea of how to open the box… that takes a few more moves and some imagination… applied liberally and you’ll find you way into the little treasure compartment.

An absolutely stunning piece from a young man who is clearly passionate about his photography as well as his woodwork – the photos he puts up on his Instagram feed are fantastic – occasionally there’s even a puzzle pic or two on there…

Here’s hoping there’ll be even more little wooden cameras in future…


  1. Hello Allard,

    Nice review as usual!
    I just wanted to notice that there are still some copies of the pelikan version of the camera conundrum from puzzlemaster if you, or anyone reading this, still want one!



    1. Thanks Augustin - I didn't realise that! :-) Go get 'em folks!