Medium Format Pinhole Lego Camera


After making the Lego conversion of my old Polaroid 95a, I decided to tackle another Lego challenge: a medium format Pinhole Lego Camera. I had several goals for the lego camera:

  1. First, I wanted to make sure that the film advance knob only turned one direction.

  2. Secondly, I wanted to have a film counter in addition to the red window.

  3. And last but not least, it would be nice to have some sort of viewfinder.

Originally, I was going to build the camera in Lego Digital Designer, so I could share better instructions with the blogosphere. I still might do that, but until I get a computer that can run that software better, you will have to survive with just my photos. Let’s get started…

Here is the main Lego Camera assembly:


There are a couple things to notice. First, notice that the top of this part is covered by the smooth sided Legos. This is done so that the lid of our camera doesn’t stick to the “lid” we make later. Second, note the spring “shock absorber” at the top center. This piece pushes a block into the gear to keep it from turning backwards. There is only one piece that will have to be fabricated. There isn’t a Lego piece that will fit perfectly in a 120 spool so we will have to fabricate our own. A Dremmel and some sand paper should do the trick. Here is the before and after photo:


This is the part that will be turning the spool.

Next, attach the following piece to the bottom of the assembly:


The two pieces at the bottom pivot to hold the medium format spools. The circle hole in the center is where our pinhole will be located.

Turning this piece over gives you a look at our shutter system. By moving the slider back and forth, we open and close the shutter. The animation below shows what I mean:


Here is what it looks like put together:


You can see that I lightproofed the inside, and added the pinhole.

Now it is time to build the lid of our lego camera. Nothing to fancy here:


You can see the red window as well as the top of the lid that has been light-proofed with tape. Here is the top view:


Now all that is left is to add some Lego Type to decorate it a bit:


This view gives you a better idea of how the film counter works. Basically, when you advance the film, this knob turns about an eighth of an inch. To make it accurate, I loaded the camera with film, and used the red window to see what frame I was on. As I got to a new frame, I marked the paper. It isn’t completely accurate, but it is pretty close. There is always the red window if I want to double check. I also count the number of clicks from turning the knob. It takes about 23 clicks to advance one frame. You can see my viewfinder also from the last picture. Pretty basic: you just look through the hole and the square masks off an estimate of what you will be shooting towards.

I am hoping to post some photos from my first roll of film later on this week. Please let me know if you decide to build your own camera out of Legos, or if you have any questions about my design.

If you are interested in pinhole photography, Ebay might be a good place to find a starter pinhole camera. Here are the pinhole camera auctions going on right now:

52 Responses to “Medium Format Pinhole Lego Camera”

  1. jason Says:

    nice camera, but I don’t understand the design enough to assemble one myself. I need more pictures please!

  2. shauna Says:

    Very clever. I would be interested in buying one. I looked on Ebay but couldn’t find it. Did you decide on a price or decide to sell them?

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