With smartphone cameras being as impressive as professional digital cameras, we continue to move past the days of film photography.
However, that doesn't mean that analog photography is obsolete. Some photographers prefer film cameras for their now vintage feel or artistic qualities, bouncing back from analog to digital cameras. Now, photo lovers can combine the old with the new, creating a hybrid camera with the help of 3D printing.
Eighteen-year-old designer Ollie Baker was able to create the best of both worlds by combining an old 1973 Konica Auto S3 pocket shooter with pieces from a Sony NEX-5. With the help of 3D printing, he was able to transform an old or broken analog camera into a digital hybrid he called the "FrankenCamera."
Baker invented the FrankenCamera (although he apologized for the name since it was previously used) a year ago after being awarded a prestigious scholarship in the UK. He used the money to attempt to reinvent the traditional film camera for the modern age by making it slightly digital.
He used Konica Auto S3 as the base because it was known for its compact rangefinder and includes a 38 mm f1.8 lens and leaf shutter. The teen then inserted a lens from an old pair of glasses into the viewer to use as a diopter adjustment — the one built-in feature this film camera was missing.
Baker chose the Sony NEX-5 to be integrated with the old camera based on the fact that it was the ideal size and mirrorless. He stripped the camera apart, using only its circuit board, sensor, LCD screen, battery connector and SD card slot.
To attach both cameras into one, he 3D printed a new back and other parts using Solidworks CAD software, which was then printed by an SLS 3D printing company in London. He then wired and assembled his creation.
The result was a masterpiece FrankenCamera that works just like the original Konica, only it uses an SD card instead of film, has a digital sensor and a high res LCD screen.
"When the new 3D printed shutter release button on the Konica is pressed, the small electronic switch inside it is 'activated' before the trigger starts to move down to eventually release the leaf shutter. This is because the electronic switch has a low mechanical resistance compared to the Konica's shutter," Baker explains on his blog. "Then as you take your finger off the trigger after the shutter has been released, the electronic switch is 'deactivated.' The Sony is in the BULB setting and the electronic switch is wired to the Sony so whilst the electronic switch is activated, the sensor is gathering the incident light and forming a photograph from it which is saved to a memory card."
After crafting this masterpiece, Baker went on to reach his funding goal on Kickstarter for the second installment of the FrankenCamera, which is a reversible digital conversion on a Leica M3 that will be ready in August 2015.
See Baker's digitally hybrid analog camera in the short clips below.