When applying to college in 2009, photographer and DIY camera maker Lucus Landers threw himself a curveball. Initially he planned to study mechanical engineering, but the technical side of photography appealed to him, so he decided to apply to a single art school, on one condition: If accepted, he had to go. He Googled “best photography school,” and the top search result was Pratt Institute. Despite knowing next to nothing about art, Landers was accepted and headed to Brooklyn to train as a photographer and artist.

After focusing on photography’s aesthetic side for two years, Landers decided to build his own camera, to satisfy both a creative impulse and a desire to design and build something. But it was also a case of necessity being the mother of invention. For a university course, Landers built a large-format 4-by-5-inch camera, as it was far cheaper than buying one. He now finds himself on his eighth camera build, the Landers AL6 Mark II, an all-aluminum medium-format camera that is light, durable, and a serious image-capturing machine.

[Photo: courtesy of Lucus Landers]

Landers’s cameras are not the only DIY builds out there. A healthy subculture of DIY camera makers exists, with dozens of people making large-format, monorail, flatbed, medium-format, and other types. Perhaps the most notable camera makers are Jon Grepstad, who maintains a website on DIY camera building, and Denis Mo, a French builder of a medium-format DM Flex camera.  

As with Mo’s DM Flex, it’s no hyperbole to say that the AL6 Mark II’s photographs are as handsome as its construction. Minimalist in design and…