Personalise your camera with spray paint and sandpaper

Mar 13, 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.

Personalise your camera with spray paint and sandpaper

Mar 13, 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.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

YouTube video

A few years ago, I remember there was a craze of people buying brand-new guitars and immediately attacking them with sandpaper to make them look “vintage”. If this video from Caleb at DSLR Video Shooter has any say, it looks like that trend is coming to cameras, too. And not only is he making his camera gear look old and worn with sandpaper, but he’s also attacking cameras with spray paint.

You might be seeing Ryan Reynolds in your head right now, asking, “But why?” I was also thinking that while watching this video. But customising your kit isn’t a new idea. Even completely painting your camera isn’t a new idea, either. Although, Caleb does it much better than Kai did back in 2010. Caleb didn’t even have to take his camera apart to do it, either.

Sanding your camera gear

If I’m being completely honest, I do quite like the look of the items in this part of the video. Scuffing up your camera cages and other metal items in a controlled way can look quite interesting. Not always, but it can. There are even brand-new products in the photo and video world that are designed and sold with that vintage look right out of the gate. Take TTArtisan’s “brassed” hotshoe mountable light meter, for example.

It’s not to everybody’s taste, and it is going to depend on what camera you’re going to put in it. I’m certainly not going to take sandpaper to any of my cameras, but I do have a couple of very well-used Nikon DSLRs that are pretty worn and might suit a cage that appears to be in a similar condition. That is, assuming I can still find cages for them. They’ve not exactly been current models in a few years.

Caleb says that you can use pretty much any grit of sandpaper you want and that he uses one here that’s pretty coarse – although didn’t specify the actual grit. Personally, if you’re going to give this a go, I’d probably start with something fairly high, like 200 grit and see how that works before moving to something coarser. I wouldn’t jump straight in with the 60 grit, but that’s just me. He also says the process goes much more quickly if you’re using an orbital sander. A detail sander or even a Dremel with an abrasive wheel would probably work, too, if you’re careful.

Painting your camera gear

Caleb spits the painting section up into two parts. The first is a technique known as dry brushing. Essentially, you get some paint on your brush and then you wipe most of it off onto a paper towel or something until there’s very little left on it. Then, with this almost dry brush, you wipe it across whatever you’re painting. This technique tends to pick up sharp edges and corners. It’s often used for things like miniature painting to suggest worn edges of armour or to highlight the edges of rocks.

I’m not 100% sold on how Caleb’s implemented the technique on the cage in this video. You wouldn’t generally cover the entire surface the way he’s done here. You’d just use it to highlight the edges or maybe add some kind of scratches on a flat surface. That being said, it doesn’t look completely terrible, even if it’s not to my taste.

Painting your cameras

This is somewhere I’m not even going to bother going with my own cameras. I can understand the appeal and were the colour choice a little better, I can see how it might appeal to some users. I mean, RED has a bunch of white “Stormtrooper” cameras. Canon and Nikon have both had white versions of some of their cameras in the past, too. But the Krylon spray paint Caleb used turned out to be more of a cream off-white than actual bright white.

Caleb does mention a bunch of tips for masking around the bits you don’t want to paint, as well as why you might not want to paint certain parts – like dials and buttons with things printed on them that you want to see. But as you can see in the photo above, Caleb made one or two mistakes with the masking on his Panasonic GH5 before hitting it with the paint.

I think if I were going to go through the hassle of painting a camera, I’d rather dismantle it so that I can prepare, prime and paint each piece individually. I’d certainly do it with a lot more thought and care than Kai took with his Nikon D90, though.

I think I’ll probably just stick with black. How about you?

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

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.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 responses to “Personalise your camera with spray paint and sandpaper”

  1. Libby Sutherland Avatar
    Libby Sutherland

    I really don’t see the point. This will also likely void any remaining warranty that you have. Personally I’m more concerned with the images the camera takes. Although I must say that I’m still in love with my little circa 2012 Hot Pink Canon Elph. Love that little camera. Fits in my shirt pocket and the images are not too awful.

  2. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    Check back in two weeks how well the paint job stands up to constant handling.

  3. Mario Dennis Avatar
    Mario Dennis

    What could go wrong?