Instamatic Lens Build for DSLR
In this Instructable I will show you how I hacked a Kodak Instamatic lens to work with my Canon XSi. I call the result a Kruzanmatic lens. There's my vanity point.
I love toy camera photography and its soft focus and quirks, and wanted to apply that to my digital. This is the third lens I've made, but the first with infinity focus and first using the Instamatic lens.
There were some 50 million of these made, and they can be found on eBay pretty cheap.
This build is destructive to the Kodak Instamatic, I really try to avoid destroying the donor camera but the construction of the lens assembly makes it necessary in this case.
While no modification is made to the receiving camera, if you're not careful you may risk damaging your mirror.
Materials and Tools
- Kodak Instamatic, preferably one that is no longer working)
- 35mm film canister. You want the kind with the lid that rests on top of the canister (the canister itself has a small lip) and not the kind with the recessed lid. Having a few on hand is a good idea.
- Body cap for your camera (Canon EOS body)
- Model cement or epoxy, not superglue or cyanoacrylates.
- Masking tape.
- Heavy duty X-Acto knife
- 1 1/4" spade bit
- 1/4 inch regular bit
- Safety glasses
Instamatic Tear Down
Open the film door on the Instamatic and you will see four screw holes. They take a flat head screwdriver.
Remove all four and then remove the front of the camera.
Cut Out and Shape the Lens Assembly
I simply cut a square out that held the lens assembly, then trimmed that down so it was the width of the lens trim ring.
The plastic cuts like, and may in fact be the same as, model plastic. That is to say, it cuts pretty easily.
Here is the lens assembly trimmed in profile. You can see how the trim ring attaches to the assembly that used to be the front of the camera. After final fitting you can use model cement to hold this together if needed.
You can also see the aperture for the lens assembly. The two holes on the side were from the two inner screws removed in the teardown step.
Something cool to note here is that Kodak didn't just press a piece of plastic into another piece, the lens itself is screwed into a threaded receiver in the assembly. This would have allowed for calibration. Cool.
Making the Lens Tube
Now that we have our lens, we need to make a tube for it that wil allow it to sit close enough to the camera sensor to give us good focus from about 3 feet to infinity.
Measure 5/8" from the top of the canister and score it.
Wrap a piece of masking tape around the canister at the score mark.
Cut the canister at the tape edge.
Save the top.
Insert the Lens Into the Tube
Lay the lens assembly on a flat surface with the aperture side down.
Push the lens tube over it until it sits flush with the flat surface.
Here it is put together. Notice the lip of the tube is at the top.
Modify the Body Cap
Drill a hole in the center of your body cap with the 1/4" bit.
Widen the hole with a 1 1/4" spade bit.
Clamp or vice the cap for this step, the spade bit can be grabby and you don't want to get hurt.
Note: Though this cap is sanded, that's not needed here, I already had a cap from another build that I reused for this build, I just widened the hole to 1 1/4".
Assembly and Test Fitting
Drop the new lens assembly into the body cap. The lip will stop it from going through the hole.
As you can see in profile, the tube puts the lens down into the body just a little bit, getting it closer to the focal plane.
Make sure all the debris and shavings are blown off of the cap and lens assembly.
Take the tube and lens assembly out of the body cap.
Put the cap on the camera and gently slide the tube back into it. If you feel it stop before the lip of the canister is resting on the body cap, STOP- it's too long. Take it out, cut a little bit more off the tube (resetting the assembly so it's flush) and try again. Repeat as needed.
Once it goes in and rests on the cap on its own, you're done!
Vignette and Dust Caps
So now that you've got a plastic lens for your digital camera, you can easily customize the final photos by making some vignetting caps. Here are a few I played with. You can also use an uncut cap as a dust cap.
Here are two pictures taken before I made the vignetting caps. One is at about 4 feet, the other is looking down the street showing infinity focus.