Introducing the Mercury
The World’s First Universal Camera
What if you could shoot old Polaroid film, Fuji’s current Instax version, huge medium format negatives, large sheet film, and digital, all with the same camera? What if that camera could take any of the hundreds of amazing professional lenses that have been produced over the past century and longer? What if that camera were light, portable, and inexpensive? And what if it could be easily reconfigured and adapted to do just about anything? Welcome to the Mercury. The world’s first universal camera. It’s time to rediscover and redefine photography. Anywhere, anytime.
The Mercury is capable of adapting nearly any lens ever made, can use numerous backs from numerous manufacturers (as well our own Mercury backs), and can shoot film or digital, in nearly any format from 35mm to 4×5″. The Mercury is also the best (and only) way to shoot Instax and Polaroid formats with a complete choice of lenses and fully manual controls. All designs will be open sourced and fully modifiable by Mercury users. A completely modular system, it is extensible in nearly every way, and will remain compatible with emerging technology well into the future, as well as technology from the entire history of photography.
The Mercury is extremely light for maximum portability. Finally you can shoot medium and large format without a heavy, burdensome camera, or a specialty camera that can only utilize one lens, one format, etc. The Mercury’s default configuration is 6×9, medium format. Its default “back adapter” is 2×3 Graflok, which accepts medium format (120) roll film backs from Graflex, Mamiya, Horseman, and Mercury, as well as (with slight adaptation) sheet film holders. We are developing a sophisticated 35mm panoramic back (the first ever made for a removable back) as well as simple, inexpensive roll film backs in 6×9 and 6×6 sizes. The Mercury also has a 4×5 Graflok back adapter, which accepts all 4×5 Graflok accessories, including instant film backs, Grafmatics, 6×12 roll film backs, and (with a slight re-configuration) sheet film holders. The Mercury is entirely modular, consisting of a Front (which accepts the “lens stack”) and a Back Adapter (which accepts film and digital backs of a certain format), as well as Front Spacers and Rear Spacers to extend the camera for various formats and lenses, the Mercury Focus Unit for view camera lenses, lens tubes, lens adapters, and a modular Sportfinder system that can be reconfigured for various lenses and formats. We also adapt Instax and Polaroid backs for use on the Mercury. Other back adapters will be available for Hasselblad V backs (film or digital), as well as digital backs for the Contax and Mamiya mounts (in the future).
Who is the Mercury for?
- Anyone of any experience level who wants to get back to manual controls and rediscover photography (or discover it for the first time). We will produce a series of videos and fun suggestions for the many things you can do with your Mercury (hint: just about anything available in the world of photography). We think that this camera is more fun to use than any other camera out there.
- Photographers who wish to shoot true medium format (up to 6x9cm) or large format (4×5”) for the absolute highest quality, but who also want their camera to be light, portable, and inexpensive. Few cameras exist that can shoot such huge negatives, and they all weigh so much that you wouldn’t want to bring them very many places with you.
- Connoisseurs of wide angle photography. The best wide angle lenses are true wide angles, not retrofocus lenses. Unfortunately, SLR-style cameras and most digital cameras can only accept retrofocus lenses. The Mercury is thin enough to accept legendary true wide angle lenses that were previously only usable on extremely expensive technical cameras.
- Tinkerers who want a camera that is fully modular and can be modified to suit their needs, whatever they may be. This is the ultimate camera for experimentation and design. The community wants your ideas; we all benefit when new Mercury parts are designed and shared.
- Photographers who want to free their components from proprietary camera systems. Use your Hasselblad lenses on an Instax camera, unlock the larger image circle of your Mamiya or Pentax 6×7 lenses, use a nineteenth century lens with a Hasselblad back, etc. Just about any combination is possible with the Mercury.
- Anyone who wants to contribute to a fully open, non-corporate camera system designed (mechanically and conceptually) for the future.
- Anyone who wants to shoot instant film (Polaroid/Impossible Project or Fuji Instax) but is tired of those horrible, fully automatic, flash-driven cameras that take such lousy photos. The Mercury is, without a doubt, the best camera for instant photography, allowing you to choose whatever lens is best for your style (super wide angle, portrait lens, etc.), have fully manual control over how your photograph is taken, and still retain the option of changing to other formats without having to lug around a completely different camera.
Working prototypes of the Mercury have been 3D printed and machined. While many specialty parts (such as lens adapters and certain specialty backs) will continue to be 3D printed, the main body panels of the Mercury require injection molding in order to perfectly meet our specs with regard to dimensional fit, finish, strength, and mass-producability. This requires expensive tooling to be manufactured. The only way to raise the necessary capital for these basic parts is to crowdfund it. This will ensure the future availability of high quality Mercury components for the entire community. Kickstarter also allows us to create this community, which will be key to the future innovations and expansions of the Mercury system. By supporting this campaign, you not only get the world’s coolest camera at a low introductory price, but you join our very special community of photography enthusiasts, and ensure that the Mercury system will be able to expand in the future. The crucial first step toward making a Universal Camera a reality is to back this campaign!
The Kickstarter campaign is live here.