I haven’t built any new cameras lately, but I have been shooting about a roll a week with my Lego camera. I have been tweaking the design and modifying things and I think I finally have a camera that I am pretty happy with. You can read about the original Lego camera design here. Here is a description of some of the improvements I have made:
Shutter improvements The biggest modification to the original design is an improved shutter mechanism. My first shutter was an external door that slid over the pinhole. My second shutter was an internal door that swung open. I wasn’t really happy with either solution. My most recent shutter is a piece that you lift on the top to open the shutter. To close it, you push it back in. I like this method because it is a more natural motion and it puts the mechanism at the top of the camera closer to where you think a shutter button would belong. I think the “up = open” and “down = closed” is also more intuitive. You can see how it works in the animation at the top of this post. Here is a view of the inside. You can see the white piece in the center is the part that moves up to uncover the pinhole:
Removed the frame counter The frame counter was a good idea in theory, but it wasn’t accurate, and the red window is quicker and easier. It was also nice to remove the bulk and get down to a simpler shape for the camera.
No more type on the front The old version said “Pinhole Lego” in giant Lego type. It was kind of funny, but it was clunky and not functional. I stripped it off and added a clean white square. I think the new design is simple and I dare say quite beautiful.
Made a film mask My first designs didn’t use a mask. The film was exposed from edge to edge. There is nothing wrong with this, but it makes it hard to scan the entire negative, and it is just a little sloppy. I cut a 6cm x6cm mask out of black paper and taped it into my camera. It gives a nice irregular border to the negatives. It also preserves the numbers on the film if I would ever need them for some reason.
Fixed some light leaks Light leaks can be hard to track down. When I first lightproof a camera I take it into a dark room with a flashlight. It seems like most of the leaks tend to be in the corners and tape edges. Each roll of film I shoot gets me a little closer to a leak free camera.
And there you have it. I am really starting to love this camera. If you are curious about the pictures it has been producing, check out my gallery of Lego camera photos.
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: