Last night I tackled the project of a 35mm version of my medium format pinhole Lego camera. It turned out to be easier than I expected. I should probably have spent the time making better instructions for the medium format version, but rest assured, those are in the works. Anyway, here are a couple highlights of this camera’s design that are different from the medium format version…
1. Obviously it is smaller than the medium format Lego camera. Here is a picture that shows the size comparison:
- The film advance is the same in that the advance knob can only turn one direction. Since we don’t have the spools of 120 film to worry about, the film just winds around the thin Lego axle. I used a Dremmel tool to cut a thin slice out of the axle. The film goes through this slit when you first load the film. Here is a photo of how the film loads. You can see that I haven’t painted the inside black, yet. The silver is the aluminum tape I use for lightproofing it:
- Again, there are two parts to the camera. The second part just encloses the inside box to keep light out. Here is a view where you can see both parts:
The medium format version had a red window to help tell what frame you are on. Obviously 35mm film doesn’t have numbers on it or backing paper, so a red window doesn’t belong on this camera. So how do you tell what frame you are on? This is probably the biggest drawback of this camera. You will have to count the clicks of the advance knob and guess when you are on the next frame. At the beginning of the roll it takes around 38 clicks and when you get to the end of the roll it only takes about 22 clicks. I might have to rethink a better film counter method, but this works for now.
The shutter is a little different on this camera. I made a door that swings open when you turn the knob. I don’t love this design either, but it works pretty well.
Now in color! Partly because I am running out of black Legos, I had a little fun and made this one red and blue.
A couple other things to consider. There isn’t a rewind mechanism, so when you get to your last frame, you will have to take it into a dark room and rewind it by hand. Maybe I can figure out a way to make a rewind knob, but I can’t think of anything right now.
As you can see, I still want to tinker with this camera a bit. That means there will probably be a delay before I make instructions available. On the bright side, I have completed building the medium format version in Bricksmith and plan on making them available very soon.
UPDATE 1: Thanks for everyone’s comments, and sorry for forgetting a link to my Lego photo gallery. Follow that link to see thumbnails of all the photos taken with my Lego cameras. The color photos were taken with the 35mm Lego camera and most of the other ones were taken with the medium format version.
UPDATE 2: I have posted the Bricksmith files for anyone interested in building the medium format version of this camera. The film advance works the same on that camera, so anyone trying to attempt building this 35mm version may find it useful.
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: