Jul 10, 2016 | By Tess

How many of us have tried to take a photo of an impressively large moon with our smartphones only to find that the result is a indistinguishable and tiny blur of light? Though I can’t speak for everyone, I’ve certainly experienced this, so I was particularly taken with a 3D printing project I came across recently, which could help with this problem. Berlin-based James Mitchell has demonstrated how he captured a detailed and stunning photograph of the moon using a Raspberry Pi, a Canon EF lens, and a 3D printed lens adapter.

As James Mitchell explains, he tried for a long time to capture a quality photo of the moon, using a range of photographic methods from zooms to telephoto lenses, but was always unsuccessful. He explains, “Shooting the moon has been a little obsession of mine for a very long time, in fact ever since I started photography. I guess it is my love of impossible images, science fiction and science fact that drove me to want to take photographs of the moon.”

After many failed attempts, however, Mitchell came across the Picamera (the camera module for Raspberry Pis), which opened the doors of possibility with its 5 megapixel capabilities. Mitchell also came across a 3D printable design for a Canon EF Lens adapter for Raspberry Pi on Thingiverse and the moon started to look closer than ever.

To make the moon camera, Mitchell first had the lens adapter 3D printed through a local Berlin 3D printing service. Though he printed his out of a red plastic filament, he suggests for others  print out of a black plastic to cut out external light entirely. With the adapter printed, Mitchell then removed the lens from his Picamera and attached it to the 3D printed adapter. He then attached his own 18-55mm Canon lens kit and was amazed to see the result.

As he explains, the DIY camera set-up was able to capture the moon in such detail because of the 5 megapixel sensor, which only actually captures a small part of what the whole lens picks up in its visual range. Mitchell explains, “In fact, you could put your finger on the edge of the glass and it wouldn’t be seen by the Picamera. The advantage: for that tiny section of lens, we get the full 5 megapixel worth of data/detail.”

For his most successful moon photo however (pictured below), Mitchell used a 78-300mm lens, and shot moon from his balcony. The red tint of the original photo is apparently from the red 3D printed adapter, so Mitchell also made a photoshopped version to remove the red tint. The results are undeniably impressive. Having accomplished his goal of photographing the moon in detail, Mitchell says he will continue trying to get a better shot, hoping to try it out with a lens longer than 300mm.

Original version

Photoshopped version



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Anton wrote at 6/7/2017 1:45:49 AM:

As far as I'm aware the purple colour is actually infrared leakage, you can filter it out with an IR filter or you can use it to your advantage and enjoy the additional night vision you get with it. Both the night vision and day vision CMOS for the RaspiCamera are the same, the only difference is the day variant has this filter built into its lens.

Abu Taj wrote at 7/12/2016 10:14:10 AM:

Nice work man. Love it

echoman2 wrote at 7/11/2016 3:28:02 PM:

the "red" (purple to my eyes) tint is a defect in the 5mp camera. I've see it in terrestrial photographs with the same sensor and my own trials with astrophotography. it may have a red component from scatter in the housing. simple fix is to spray paint the interior with a flat black paint. note: remove lens and sensor first :-)

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