A Homemade Autochrome Camera Made with Lego, Cardboard, and Duct Tape

Photographer Dominique Vankan wanted to play around with the old Autochrome Lumière process from the early 1900s, so he built himself a custom large format camera using LEGO pieces, cardboard, and duct tape.

Autochrome was the first popular and practical color photography processes, and used dyed potato starch grains dusted onto glass plates and then covered with light-sensitive emulsion. The starch grains would filter light before it hit the sensitive layer, producing positive color photos on glass.

Here’s what Vankan tells us about his project:

I made the camera to test autochrome plates. Once I learn how to produce decent plates I will look for a graphlex or something like that. The camera is just an insturement, nothing more. The lens is a boyer, 180mm from an old enlarger. For the viewing glass I made a hole in a 4/5-inch and taped it with tracing paper.

Check out this selection of (mostly monochrome) sample photographs he shot using the camera to show that it works:

You can follow along with Vankan’s “Autochrome Project” in this Flickr set.

The Autochrome Project (via Make)

Image credits: Photographs by Dominique Vankan and used with permission

  • Mansgame

    At what point did using a vintage camera equate to having horrible horrible final results?

  • DamianMonsivais

    its not even a vintage camera. Its a homemade camera.BUT your right why are the results so bad.

  • CrazyCrayola

    Those are obviously K’nex andd not Legos!

  • Mansgame

    True, technically it’s a homemade but I guess it just reminds me of instagram users

  • Maaltijdsalade

    No, It’s Lego Technic.

  • Maaltijdsalade

    No, It’s Lego Technic.

  • John Milleker Jr.

    The final results are bad, sure, but it’s a successful autochrome print! This is a process that took years after invention to make work for mass production. I applaud his work, even if he stopped at B&W film the results are worth it. Just like any forgotten alternative process it’s going to take many hours to perfect.

    And making your own bellows isn’t easy either. Rock on Dominique.

  • rtfe


  • Matt

    You have to respect someone who can execute a DIY project like this. Even with all the decades (centuries?) of science behind you, doing it *right* is still tricky.