Home Vintage Cameras Caravan Club: The climb-in travel camera

Caravan Club: The climb-in travel camera

Fancy a pineapple camera? Or a camera in a shed? Look no further, but start with the Caravan Camera

Magnesium alloy bodies? Pah! Why no use a water melon?

What’s the perfect travel camera to slip into your pocket? The Sony RX100? The Ricoh GR? Perhaps, even, you are content with the iPhone. But what if, instead of slipping your camera in your pocket, you have a camera big enough to climb into — and it’s still classed as a travel cam?

The ultimate portable camera, Brendon's Caravan Cam ready for action
The ultimate portable camera, Brendon’s Caravan Cam ready for action

Caravan Cam

Brendan Barry has the perfect solution: The Caravan Cam. It’s the ideal portable camera and darkroom for those who indulge in a spot of lateral thinking.

Final adjustments to the lens
Final adjustments to the lens

Brendan is an Exeter-based large format photographer, lecturer and camera builder. And what cameras he builds! If the Caravan Cam is too portable for your liking, why not try the Shed Cam? Or the Shepherd’s Hut Cam? Brendan has proved that almost anything can be turned into a camera.

The Shed Cam, back to the days of the camera obscura
The Shed Cam, back to the days of the camera obscura

Back to origins

These are back-to-origin cameras in the true sense of the word — camera, room, dark, lens hole. Admittedly, the RX100 is tad more portable and possibly more convenient, but it is just a Lilliputan room without access, except for light.

If it were big enough (or you were small enough), you could get yourself inside the RX100 and work all the buttons from there, completely in the dark until you press the shutter and surprise yourself.

It's an upside-down world inside the Caravan Cam
It’s an upside-down world inside the Caravan Cam

Watermelon Cam

Brendan has turned his hand to making all sorts of cameras. When you check his website you’ll even find the Watermelon Cam. You can’t climb inside that one, but it probably has pips on the sensor anyway. Did I say sensor? Of course, I meant film. Film’s not dead, of course.

Magnesium alloy bodies? Pah! Why no use a water melon?
Magnesium alloy bodies? Pah! Why no use a water melon?
Fruity cams capture the moment
Fruity cams capture the moment

You can follow Brendan’s journey into camera exotica here at the Brendan Barry website.

All images by Brendan Barry, with permission

And here is a nice little video by Ilford Inspires to keep you entertained:


  1. I’ve had two experiences with cameras obscura:

    One was at the Elephant Fair (Fayre?) er, https://porteliotfestival.com/welcome-to-our-home/the-elephant-fayre/ .. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_Fayre .. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/Postpak/elephant-fayre/ near Plymouth, around 1984(?) – I have a video of it somewhere – and that camera obscura, too, was a small caravan but with a little periscope sticking up through the roof like a stove pipe.

    There was a white painted circular Formica table beneath it, inside the van. You paid 50p(?) and stepped inside, and there was all of the fairground outside projected onto the table. So it looked like a slide projection ..except that the people were moving!

    There was no flicker – as at the cinema; it was just real life, but projected, in miniature, on a table. You could reach out and (almost) touch the people who were walking by outside. I could have watched it forever.

    The other was at Jerez in Spain, in a castle turret: also with a periscope which could be turned to point in any direction, but a couple of strings dangling from the periscope could magnify the picture, so that you could (can?) zoom in on whatever, or whoever, looked especially interesting; just like looking through a telescope, but without needing an eyepiece, because the picture was displayed on the table beneath the periscope.

    Think of Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window”, but with he and Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter looking down on a flat moving image of Raymond Burr doing something very nasty in the woodshed ..I mean in the apartment across the courtyard.

    (Hmm, thinking of Jimmy Stewart, is that a Pentax he’s using? ..no. Is it an Alpa? ..no; looks more like an Exacta ..well, it was 1954.. Yup, it certainly is, but with its name blanked out with tape. And what’s that massive lens? ..looks like half a pair of binoculars on an Exacta mount.)

    Just like Brendan says about watching life displayed on a screen, “I could have watched it forever”.


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