Nov 29, 2016 | By Tess

As many will know, analog photography is an expensive hobby, as cameras, film, and development can all put a serious dent in your bank account. Above all, however, camera lenses are the most expensive, as they can range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Recently, however, experimental photographer Mathieu Stern has proven that there are some ways around spending hundreds of dollars on a new camera-ready lens, that involve turning a cheap optical lens into a camera lens with some help from 3D printing.

Stern, a French experimental photographer, has dedicated a whole Youtube channel to reviewing and testing unusual, outdated, and often very inexpensive camera lenses. From toy lenses, to early 20th century lenses, to a $5 Russian lens, he seems to have mastered using unconventional lenses to capture some truly stunning photos.

His latest video has particularly peaked our interest, as it involves turning an old cheap monocle lens into a 135mm f1.8 Sony a7 camera lens with the help of 3D printing. Stern, obviously an expert at his craft, was able to calculate how to turn the old monocle lens (from 1890!) into a 135mm f1.8 lens for his camera, and even made himself a cardboard prototype to test the calculations. Once he had figured out the right distances and proportions for the lens, he enlisted the help of French 3D printing service Fabulous to help him bring his concept to life.

Arnault Coulet, CEO of Fabulous, was immediately up to the challenge and his team set to work designing the 3D printable lens parts. According to a blog post by Fabulous, “The question posed by Mathieu is identical to that posed daily by our customers: how to use the competitive advantages of 3D printing to design and manufacture a new innovative product, cheap, and above all performing.”

After some experimenting, Stern and the Fabulous team were ready to 3D print the parts for the camera, which consisted of two cylinders—one to screw onto the camera, and one to move forwards and backwards for focusing the image. According to Fabulous, they also integrated a slot where Stern could insert 3D printed diaphragm plates for added visual effects. Once the design process was complete, the parts were 3D printed on an FDM 3D printer using a black PLA filament.

Upon receiving the 3D printed parts, Stern assembled them and set out to test his new, cheap, 3D printed lens. The lens, as the photos can attest, was a great success. Using it, Stern was able to capture some truly magnificent shots of the famous Mont Saint-Michel (you know, the island castle that inspired the architecture for Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings films), equally beautiful portraits, and terrific beach shots. With the custom 3D printed bokeh plates, Stern was also able to capture some whimsical Twitter bird-shaped light particles.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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