35mm Lego Camera

35mmLegoCamera.jpg

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:

35mmComparison.jpg

  1. 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:

35mmInside.jpg

  1. 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:

35mm2Parts.jpg

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.

  1. 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.

  2. Now in color! Partly because I am running out of black Legos, I had a little fun and made this one red and blue.

  3. 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:

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31 Responses to “35mm Lego Camera”

  1. Donna Says:

    too fricking cool!

  2. Brian Says:

    WOW THAT IS FACKING COOL!

  3. michael Says:

    this is amazing.

  4. Rosemary Says:

    This is in the top 10 coolest things I have ever seen. Nice work man!

  5. Joselito Says:

    my 5 year old and i love you. xo

  6. Brian Stanfill Says:

    I want a timed exposure option or no buy. :P

    Kings to you!

    Brian Stanfill Palmer, Alaska

  7. brendadada Says:

    Good stuff, I am impressed. Look forward to seeing how you resolve the rewind issue. Be very interested to see the pictures.

  8. Alberto Says:

    You are missing some photos taken by the lego camera :)

  9. poetic scareccrow Says:

    I like this thing. (:

  10. Koro Palanop Says:

    We need to see shot pictures!

  11. monir ali Says:

    you are a genius

  12. lp Says:

    can you please make more photos? I’m trying to bouild it but i’m missing some views.

  13. Adrian Says:

    lp, If you are stuck, you might want to check out http://www.foundphotography.com/PhotoThoughts/archives/2005/10/mediumformatp.html and look at the medium format version of this camera. There are some more photos over there.

  14. Dave Says:

    Lego now has a virtual lego build site that will allow you to make up your own custom set. You could have a small sideline making up camera kits.

  15. Ben Says:

    I was impressed by your medium format Lego camera but I’m totally wowed by this. Keep up the great work!

  16. Nuno H Says:

    PRICELESS!!! :D

  17. K.A. Iceland Says:

    I think this is probably THE most amazing thing that has ever crossed my eyes!

  18. Atli Says:

    I don´t like it, I think it is really ugly and you have waisted a lot of ppl´s time by posting this nonsence.

    …but hey! thats just one mans opinion

  19. genex Says:

    wow very cool. I know a Lego artist who’d dig this and I’m a photographer myself.

  20. kendrick Says:

    THought this was so simple and amazing. I had to post it on my blog. Love to see some more pics though. Amazing job! Revolution is on the simple side!

  21. Peter Bryenton Says:

    Rewinding Just a “reverse” thought to consider perhaps: start with all the film wound onto a “feed” spool (in the darkroom/black bag) and make the camera wind it all back into the film cassette frame by frame as you take pictures. A bit of engineering re-design would be required, but then anyone could unload the now full film cassette in daylight. Peter Bryenton http://www.brypix.com

  22. Kenny Says:

    Amazing!!!It is easy to take photos, I really want to make one!!! I think it is possible to attach the Polariod back.

  23. outkast Says:

    woohoo digg love lego

  24. thewebguy Says:

    this… is amazing.

  25. ryan Says:

    I’d be happy to translate the plans to Designer, but you’re right. The program is testy. I can’t figure out how to get the proper pieces from the catalog…for example, the red piece that looks like a 5×9 for the body. Yep, I’m on a PC so Bricksmith is out for me.

  26. steve Says:

    this is one of the more interesting lego creations i’ve seen in recent times. i think i want to try making one, except, i think that it would be better with a rewind thing, cause not everyone has a dark room. Still, this is very interesting. good work.

  27. BongoClown Says:

    Hey, as with most people posting here I totally love the camera, and I would definitely want to make my own. I’ve been racking my brain looking at your pictures but there are still some blank spots which I can’t figure out. Is it possible, if you can’t post the bricksmith files, that you could at least take proper reference pictures (i.e. front, back, top, bottom, left, right) of the camera and post them up? I’d personally be happy to make the bricksmith files for everyone to use if I could just see some proper references.

  28. Adrian Hanft Says:

    BongoClown, Sorry you are having trouble figuring out some parts of the camera. I did post the Bricksmith files from the medium format camera. The film advance uses the same mechanism. If you do end up making a bricksmith file, I would be happy to look at it and compare it to what I made.

  29. Spasticsquirrel Says:

    i just made my own version of the camera but i made a modification. i used a battery powered motor from a lego technics set to make an eletronic shutter. press a button to open, press a button to close. it appears to work, but i haven’t shot a roll yet.

    how long are your exposure times?

    i used mr pinhole’s site but the pinhole in the legos is so large that his calculators didn’t handle it too well.

    this was a fabulous idea. i don’t think i’ve had so much fun in years.

  30. Adrian Says:

    Spasticquirrel, That sounds like a great mod to the camera. If you take some pictures of it and with it send them my way.

    My exposures are about 1 second on a bright day and longer in lower light. Good luck!

  31. Watson Says:

    I just discovered your site and found these amazing lego cams. Very nice work and thanks for sharing all your cameras and processes. Have enjoyed viewing your blog and your “found” photography work. Will be sure to check back.

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