• Facebook

    500 K / likes

  • Twitter

    1 M / followers

I Built a DIY Camera Using a Trash Can, Large Format Lens, and Sony a7S II

Comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recently built a Trash Cam out of a trash can, large format lens, and Sony a7S II. The project was an attempt to find an inexpensive housing for a large format lens.

My friend Andy Romanoff and I have been on a quest to work with large format lenses in a digital media.

The Trash Cam’s theory of operation is simple. An image formed by the large format lens illuminates an image plane. This plane is made of Gatorboard and retroreflective spray paint.

dscf0147

The large format lens on the front of the Trash Cam.
The large format lens on the front of the Trash Cam.

A Sony a7S II, located just under the large format lens and looking into the body of the trash can captures the image formed on the retroreflective plane.

The Sony a7S II placed just under the lens hole, looking into the camera.
The Sony a7S II placed just under the lens hole, looking into the camera.
The retroreflective image plane inside the camera.
The image plane (effectively the sensor) show here at roughly infinity focus. The opposite side is painted with retroreflective paint.
What the inside of the camera looks like with the image plane removed.
What the inside of the camera looks like with the image plane removed.

Focus is achieved by moving the image plane and refocusing the Sony a7S II. A series of ropes, pulleys, bungee cords and drawer slides allows the image plane to move by rotating the lid of the trash can.

The bungee loads the drawer slide to the front (infinity focus). Turning the lid pulls the drawer slide towards the rear (close focus).

dsc00654

Permanent marker is used to show footage marks by the witness line (trash can seam)
Permanent marker is used to show footage marks by the witness line (trash can seam)

The large format lens is ancient, unmarked, has separating elements (with cracking balsam) and of course, no AR coatings. Repeated heating and oil soaking have not let the threads yield, so I have not yet been able to service the iris, so I leave it wide open, so I don’t buckle the blades.

lens

Use of the Trash Cam can tend towards cumbersome, but the ethereal look of the ancient lens is worth it. Digital parallax correction fixes the keystoning from the tilt of the a7S II.

Here are two portraits shot using the Trash Cam:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s what the finished Trash Cam looks like:

26099961386_39dc0af487_o-e1459606296415

dsc00630-1


About the author: Mike Keesling is an Emmy- and Academy Award-winning designer of optical and motion control equipment.
You can find more of his work and writing on his blog and Flickr. This article was also published here.

Comment