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Photographer Upgrades His $1 Dollar Store Camera with DIY Features and Fixes

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The “Special Moments” camera is a cheap plastic 35mm camera that you can pick up at certain dollar stores for just a buck.

Photography enthusiast Daniel Goodale-Porter wanted to make his even more “special,” so he set out to see how much he could improve the design and functionality of the camera, DIY-style.

Here’s what the camera was like out of the packaging:

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After taking the camera apart and applying various fixes and hacks, Goodale-Porter succeeded in adding: tripod bushing, a cable release socket, a new paint job, a multiple exposure system, bulb shutter speed, variable aperture, and a neck strap.

He also turned the dummy hotshoe into a working one and fixed the light leak present in the camera.

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the hacking process:

The camera disassembled to expose the internal workings.
The camera disassembled to expose the internal workings.
A custom paint job that removes the shine and dollar store design.
A custom paint job that removes the shine and dollar store design.
Using floss to add a multiple exposure hack
Using floss to add a multiple exposure hack
Wiring up the camera to make the hot shoe functional.
Wiring up the camera to make the hot shoe functional.
Adding a cable release feature.
Adding a cable release feature.
Neck strap loops added to the side of the camera
Neck strap loops added to the side of the camera
Customizing the tripod mount on the underside
Customizing the tripod mount on the underside
A bulb shutter speed added with floss that you pull.
A bulb shutter speed added with floss that you pull.

The resulting “souped up” toy camera “will work as originally designed,” says Goodale-Porter. Here’s a quick tour:

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The new variable aperture allows for a wider range of film choices, and the new controls over shutter speed allow for much more creativity when using the camera.

Here are some photographs captured with the hacked camera:

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You can find a much more detailed step-by-step walkthrough of the modifications over at Instructables.

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