I’ve always loved the look of photos taken with a ringlight. About 6 years ago, before my son was born, I built a ringlight using some circular fluorescent lights and a chip and dip bowl from Big Lots. It produced the look I wanted, but the ballast required to power the lights made it a bit heavy and unwieldy.
In November of 2009, a fellow by the name of Jani ‘Japala’ Pönkkö made a cool DIY ringlight using automotive LED rings. Since those LED rings could be battery powered, I thought that would be a good fit for the Lego camera.
This is a working digital Lego camera that takes real photos.
One day recently, I was sitting with my son and we were tinkering with his Legos. I made something that looked like a camera and pretended to take some photos of my son with the Lego camera. Then thought that it might be fun if I could build a little case for the iPhone 4 so that I could actually take some photos and videos with something that looked like a little Lego toy. I used a wheel as a fake lens, a window as a fake viewfinder, and round button-like piece as the fake shutter release button.
If you actually build something like this, you’ll notice right away how much easier it is to hold the camera steady in almost all situations. If needed, a tripod mount can easily be created by gluing a 1/4″ nut into a couple sacrificial Lego pieces. But the functionality of the case is only half the point of this thing. Try taking a toy camera like this to a party – it is the ultimate ice breaker. You’re sure to enjoy compliments from curious onlookers about your one-of-a-kind photographic device! C’mon, who wouldn’t want their portrait captured with a Lego camera?!
This is a very simple and fun project and can be used to turn any smartphone into a Lego “camera”.
Update (7/19/2011) – I finally got around to making a build video. Enjoy!
Update: Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to build this particular version.
Today really tested my resolve to not break the chain. I woke up with a fever and body aches so I hardly got out of bed until I needed to pick up my son from school. My wife left for a photography convention in Las Vegas so I’m flying solo until Tuesday night. I really picked a crummy time to come down with something.
After putting him down for the night, the last thing I wanted to do was take a photograph for my 365, but today would be my 50th day since I started so I couldn’t not shoot something. So I looked through Nate’s toy bins, I saw Superman. I figured a classic super hero deserved a classic lighting pattern for his portrait so I went with a loop light.
I’ll be channeling my inner Superman this weekend as I try to keep Nate entertained while trying to kick whatever bug I’ve got.
My truck has been in the shop for the last couple days so I didn’t have a chance to go anywhere for my 365. With a 4-year old boy, I never have a shortage of toys I can shoot here at home. This evening, I set up a little scene using Lego men.