3k to spend on photography, so we bought a minibus!


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 18:18
In the 'high and lows 2016' thread, I mentioned that one of our high moments of the year was that we had turned an old NHS minibus into a campervan!

As the title says, we had 3000 to spend after selling our old trailer and decided that we wanted to spend it on photography related items. Bear in mind this was around August 2014, there was no news yet about the K-1 and the last of the 645Ds were being sold for 2999 with a 55mm lens. My finger was hovering on the buy button on several occasions.

In the end, we decided to put better / different scenery in front of the camera instead. Having been on 3-4 trips where we had slept in the back of the car on an inflatable mattress, we decided we wanted to do that on an improved basis, so the search began! Main criteria after sleeping in the car were the ability to stand up and basic facilities!

With a limited budget, we spent the next 2-3 months on ebay etc. keeping an eye out for the right van and at the end of October we ended up with a 2004 Renault Master LWB high roof ex NHS patient transfer minibus! This had already been stripped of it's ramp and seats so we had a clean sheet to work from and being a galvanised van from the factory it wasn't a rust bucket like a lot of vans that age.

The budget stretched to a full service, 2 tyres and the smev hob/sink and at the start of this year we started building our layout to legally convert it to a Motor Caravan on the V5. This is a very budget friendly conversion for now but it works for us as we use the 'posh tent with extras' approach and not a 'every home luxury just smaller' approach.

This meant that we picked up old wardrobes off freecycle and got some 1970s kitchens units and ended up with this! The front swivel seats came out of an old Renault Espace.

It is a work in progress and we have a lot more we want to do! The home made seat will be replaced with a double coach seat or equivalent as we are now expecting out first baby so need legal seat belts in the back! There will be a good electric setup, we have 2x leisure batteries, 2x solar panels, a 12v compressor fridge and a gas heater ready to go in early next year.

It's a different approach but it's the best photo accessory we've ever bought and designed around photo trips. As an example, here's the van at the Dovercourt Lighthouses, parked at the side of the road with not far to walk at sunrise!

There are plenty of trips planned for next year but before that, we will be out and about for a few days between Christmas and new year without a heater, so hope we don't forget the hot water bottles!

If you have any questions, fire away!



Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 18:44
That's following in the footsteps of Ansell Adams, but taking the concept a bit further and certainly making it more comfortable. Fantastic!
Best regards, John


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 18:45
That's brilliant Danny! Great example of making a lot from limited resources 😊. After you've made those additions next year it'll be a palace! Look forward to hearing about your trips

We'll be jumping back into campervanning next year (yippee!). We had one when our boys were wee, then sold it when they grew up a bit. The big ones left now... so time to get another van. Very much looking forward to re-entering the world of campervan nerdery

Some of my vaguely better stuff


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 19:06
Looks good Danny! Room for the little one too.
I hope you'll keep posting photos as you develop the van.

We rarely go off grid in our 'van so haven't bothered with solar panels. The extra expense (and weight given Ruby is a factory built 'van) isn't worth it for us - the leisure battery will do all we need for an overnight off grid, as we have a gas fridge.
His nibs is no where near handy enough to build his own camper!

Have lots of fun with her.


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 19:31
It looks good to me 😀

I have been around van/ camper conversions over the years, yours looks like a decent effort 😀

Good luck with the improvements ☺
K10D, K5 plus plenty of clueless enthusiasm.

My Flickr site link


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 19:36

Thank you for sharing this, and enjoy!


Link Posted 19/12/2016 - 23:19
Brilliant, very resourceful, puts the Tardis to shame!


Link Posted 20/12/2016 - 01:14
Fantastic. Hope you will have a blast and share many great photos
'Photography...it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten....' (Aaron Siskind)


Link Posted 20/12/2016 - 08:29
Great story Danny. Hoping to see your on the road pictures throughout 2017....
K-1Gripped K-1 ungripped K-5ii K7 Various lenses



Link Posted 20/12/2016 - 12:11
Money well spent by the looks of it! I wish you many safe and photographic travels. And congratulations on the upcoming photographic subject closer to home
Pentax K-1| Pentax K-01 | D-FA 28-105mm | FA 28mm F2.8 | FA 35mm F2.0 | FA 43mm F1.9 Ltd | FA 50mm F1.4 | FA 50mm F2.8 Macro | FA* 85mm F1.4 | FA 100mm F2.8 Macro | DA* 200mm F2.8 | Pentax AF 540FGZ


Link Posted 20/12/2016 - 15:58
Sometimes we focus too much on equipment to help us take better photos - you're approach has been to focus on equipment that will take you to better photos

Looks a cracking job - keep us updated
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