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From Disposable to Dreamy: The DIY Lens Hack Worth Trying

A cheap, vintage-looking lens that you can make at home sounds too good to be true, right? Thankfully, for us, a new camera lens is just a few easy steps away.

For those who don't know, photographer Mathieu Stern is a huge camera lens collector and has used all sorts of weird and wonderful lenses from around the world. In a recent video of his, the featured lens was salvaged from the ever-popular Funsaver disposable camera made by Kodak. With some basic DIY skills, Stern was able to remove the lens from the original camera and mount it onto camera body cap so he could use it on his Sony a7 body.

The video goes on to show the initial results, which have a lo-fi dreamy film look to them that many may like. One unfortunate discovery during initial tests showed this DIY lens lacked perfect focus, and its close-up capabilities were somewhat limited. For this reason, Stern decided to work with one of the subscribers to his YouTube channel to build a 3D-printed housing that included a focus control mechanism, and the results are much improved.

What I like about this project is the fact that there are a few entry points for photographers to try and add this lens to their camera bag. There's the full-blown DIY version that involves some drilling and gluing, or the 3D-printed versions that can be bought off the shelf or printed at home with the necessary print file. For those without a Sony FE mount, worry not, as you could easily make this retro lens work with the corresponding body cap for your camera.

While many photographers continue to push for perfection in their images, I personally find something more authentic and approachable about images that have a lo-fi nature to them. Maybe it's nostalgia on my part, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. While this DIY creation is not going to replace any of your existing gear, a cheap lens like this will undoubtedly give you more creative options at your fingertips and is well worth a try.

What do you think of this DIY lens? Would you shoot with such a creation? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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1 Comment

I would love to try this with my Nikon Z50 or Z6II