When I was a child, a friend of my dad’s, a boxing photographer named Ed, one of the cigar-chomping bulldogs you saw in the movies resting the beds of their Speed Graphic’s on the canvas, gave me one of his old cameras, a Burke and James 4×5 Speed Press. I used it as a camera and, by mounting it on a stand that my father rigged up, a darkroom enlarger. You could switch out its lenses, lens boards and backs for different optics and film sizes. Ed had also “hacked” it, literally, with a hack saw and soldering iron, adding his own levers so he could feel the focus and f-stops without taking his eye off of the action in the ring.
Now, after decades of subservience to the lords of Nikon and Canon, who locked us into their predictable products as surely as MacDonalds imprinted our DNAs with Big Macs, the serfs have crashed the gate of the castle: cameras are again hackable.