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Video: Making a DIY lens using a disposable film camera

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Just because a disposable film camera is designed to only be used once doesn’t mean you must discard everything after you’re done shooting the included roll of film. Photographer Mathieu Stern has published a video showing how to break down a disposable film camera to make a new lens for your camera. Is it a high-quality lens? No, but it delivers a cool 90s-era look.

The focus-free lens is adaptable to almost any mirrorless camera. In Stern’s case, he used a full-frame Sony mirrorless camera (E-mount). The list of supplies is short. You need a body cap for your camera, a cheap third-party one will do, and a Kodak FunSaver 35mm single-use camera.

Of the FunSaver, Stern says, ‘The Kodak FunSaver is the most popular disposable film camera ever made. This is the look of the 90s, as almost everyone shot pictures on this cheap, plastic single-use camera.’ There’s a very good chance you’ve used a FunSaver or at least been at an event where people were using them.

The FunSaver uses a 30mm F10 lens. The combination of a wide-angle focal length and an F10 aperture means there’s no focusing mechanism at play. The FunSaver is quite literally a point-and-shoot camera. The FunSaver’s lens includes a pair of plastic aspherical lens elements, which capture surprisingly sharp images considering that it’s a cheap, single-use camera.

Once you’ve got the body cap and disposable camera, you must drill a 16mm hole into the center of the body cap. Now you must separate the lens from the Kodak FunSaver. To do so, you can pry the camera body panels apart and then unscrew the lens. The lens itself fits inside the drilled 16mm hole, although the panel the lens is attached likely won’t fit inside the back of the body cap, so you’ll need to trim the plastic down until the lens can sit flush against the cap. That’s it. Now you’ve got a 90s-era plastic lens that delivers sharp images with a nostalgic style.

To see more from Mathieu Stern, visit his website and YouTube channel. If you’d like to see another one of his DIY projects, try using beet juice to create your own anthotype prints.


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