Apparently, you can find quite a lot of amateur and professional photographers in the 3D printing community. And a lot of them have already had the idea to use their 3D printer to make various gadgets and accessories that are either expensive or hard to find. You can produce some amazing things that will make it easier to take better photos for everyone.
In this article, we are sharing some of our favorite projects and simple tips that will simplify things, save money, and generally let you have more fun.
Camera backpack mounts
There are many accessories that can be mounted on your backpack, for example, a GoPro mount. But you can also print this cool camera mount that can carry even a heavy DSLR camera. This mount is especially useful for wildlife photographers who need their camera always ready and wearing it around your neck the whole day is rather uncomfortable. If your camera is on the heavier side, make sure to test that the printed part is strong enough to hold it (e.g. shake it in the mount above something soft, like a blanket) or secure it with a strap.
Flash OCF grids and diffusers
Another cool improvement for your camera that can be made easier with our printers is a flash diffuser. Lots of photographers often improvise with folded pieces of paper or other, often very creative ways. Thanks to 3D printing you can make effective and professional-looking diffusers. Plus, you can make them cheaply and in no time. Try to experiment a little with transparent filaments and you can achieve some interesting results. We have already covered printing with translucent and transparent materials in great detail in our recent article.
And if you want to improve your photos in an unconventional manner, try to print an OCF grid for your flash that will narrow the source of light. A store-bought product might cost you about 100 USD, however, a 3D printed part will cost you just a few cents.
The Lens Filter Wrench Set
If you use filters during your photoshoots, you might have realized at an occasion that you have tightened them too much. One of our colleagues came up with this amazing idea that solves the problem elegantly. It’s a quick print that requires just a short piece of a filament strand.
Original lens hoods tend to be very expensive. Again, they can cost you something between dozens and hundreds of USD. However, if you print them, it won’t cost you more than a few bucks, plus you can produce them pretty quickly. Of course, the result won’t be as tough as the original lens hood but that shouldn’t be a problem. After all – you can always print a new one.
Lens Cap Holders
Another cool gadget that will save you some money and stress is this simple lens cap holder. Lens caps are easily lost and it’s an inconvenience and an additional expense to buy them again. Some cameras have lens caps hanging on a short string, but they can sometimes get in the way (in the wind for example). It’s much better to print this holder that can be attached to a strap. Simply put it on your bag to make sure you won’t lose your lens caps again.
Various GoPro mounts
Thanks to 3D printing you can make a whole set of non-standard parts that are not sold by the official manufacturer. Depending on your requirements for toughness, the number of suitable models available online can be pretty high and there’s a lot of projects to choose from. We recommend printing various GoPro mounts with flexible and resilient materials. One of the toughest (but also one of the most difficult) materials is Flexfill 98a. A suitable alternative is PETG, PC Blend, and other filaments designed for printing mechanical parts.
Cases for SD cards, batteries and other equipment
These everyday items are great not only for photographers but for the vast majority of people. You know the situation when you try to find 4 batteries in your backpack, find only three and the last one is somewhere deep in the pocket. To reach it, you need to empty half of your backpack. Well, you can make it a lot easier with our printer: You can make an unlimited amount of various boxes that will save you from backpack chaos. And it doesn’t end with battery boxes. For example, you can print SD card holders, lens filter boxes, or protective cases for your lenses.
Several simple tripods can be found at PrusaPrinters.org or Thingiverse. Most of them are made for smartphones but you can also find some models that are able to support the weight of a compact camera or ultrazoom. We found these three tripods to be quite useful – they can be printed quickly and weigh almost nothing:
The first one (black and orange) is obviously the sturdiest and can carry a device bigger than a phone or GoPro camera. The orange ring serves as a locking mechanism for the legs and although it is not strong enough to carry a heavy DSLR camera, it works well for light-weighted cameras. The holes inside the tripod’s legs also make it easy to hang it somewhere.
The second tripod (grey in the middle) is one of the most space-saving photo-stands we were able to find. However, its hinges are rather fragile so it’s made only for the lightest of cameras.
The third version (on the right) needs a few adjustments when sliced. The wing nut size should be increased to 105% to fit properly on the screws. Or, even better, you should use metal bolts and nuts instead of using the printed ones. The rest of this tripod fits tightly and makes a great phone stand. This tripod is compact and it’s easy to hang from the hooks. Unfortunately, this tripod cannot support a full-size camera.
Some of the tripods feature 3D-printed screws for attaching a camera. However, we advise against using plastic screws: If you accidentally break them off with the attached camera, you will have difficulty removing the broken part from the socket. Instead, you should make (or find) such tripods that have a hole for a metal screw. Because screws commonly used to attach a camera come with a specialized thread (compared to standard M5 bolts), you will buy them online or find them in a good hardware store.
Please keep in mind that 3D printed tripods will never be quite as durable as professional products. Especially, various locking mechanisms and moving parts tend to be more fragile. However, our Original Prusa 3D printers can still produce some really nice, cheap, and compact tripods.
Professional time-lapse sliders are usually pretty expensive, large, and heavy. Luckily, we live in a time when a lot of parts (including Arduino and similar computer boards) can be bought for just a few dollars. With these, you can create a professional slider with just a little effort. There are several models available at PrusaPrinters that can help you with that. The slider we use for some of our videos has just a few 3D printed parts but you can make models that are almost entirely 3D-printed. For example, this simple slider needs just a few marbles.
You can find a lot of models online that will help you to make your photos more interesting. For example, you can use this sci-fi-looking artifact that can be used not only for LARP gaming but also as a stylish prop.
A lot of photo gadgets have two main benefits: They don’t require any tiny 3D-printed parts, therefore they are easy to print and often quite tough. Plus, 3D-printed solutions can save a lot of money. No matter whether you are an amateur or professional photographer, we hope this article provided you some inspiration to print something new for your next photo adventure. Just don’t forget to share the result online.
And as always: Happy printing!
About the Author
Prusa Research is a 3D printing company based in Prague, Czech Republic. It was founded in 2012 by Josef Prusa, one of the core RepRap developers, as a one-man startup and has grown to a 400+ team now. It’s best known for its award-winning Original Prusa i3 MK3S 3D printer. All printers produced by Prusa Research are open-source – their design plans are fully available online and anyone can download and modify them, for example, to improve the current printer. This article was also published here and shared with permission.
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