Are 3D printed cinema lens housings worth it?

Jul 24, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Are 3D printed cinema lens housings worth it?

Jul 24, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I’ve seen quite a few of these 3D printed cinema lens housings over the last few years. We’ve featured some of them here on DIYP and I’ve even designed a couple of focus rings for my own lenses in the past. I’ve not had a go at printing a full housing, though.

They need a lot of plastic to make, and they look 3D printed. Are they really worth it? In this video, Adam Harig at FoxTailWhipz attempts to answer that question by printing one of the housings available for his Tokina 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8 lens.

We featured a number of 3D printable cinema lens housing kits here on DIYP last February from creator Edward Park. He has produced a number of 3D printable kits to let you turn your old and vintage photography lenses into cinema lenses. Sort of.

They give it the bulk and feel of a cinema lens, providing similar functionality for things like follow-focus units. As it’s just a housing that bolts onto your existing lens, it obviously does nothing for the optics. It’ll still have the same look and feel to the image that it always did.

The cinema housing provides the large 0.8 MOD gears to elements like the aperture, focus and zoom rings for use with follow focus units and motors. And that can be extremely handy if you’re regularly using full video rigs and gimbals.

At the end of the day, these are 3D printed components. So, they’re going to look like 3D printed components. They won’t have the same look as the original lens – or even real cinema versions of those lenses.

But if you care more about function than form, these look like they might be worth checking out. I may finally have to have a go at some of these myself. I have a few old lenses here I’ve been thinking about rehousing.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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