As we have already seen, you can make a working lens from pretty much anything. Sean of Fotodiox decided to use a toy lens and adapt it to his Sony a7R. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, you are going to love this: Sean found a GhostZapper toy and used its plastic projector lens to take photos in 2022.
Just like the original Ghostbusters movie, the GhostZapper toy also dates back to 1984. It’s actually a pretty cool toy projector that lets you project faces of a few cartoonish ghosts onto your wall. There’s even a little button that lets you animate the ghosts’ faces. Pretty creative, right? Sean found one copy in an antique store and decided to express his own creativity.
Since the GhostZapper has a projector lens, it means that you can take it and shoot photos with it. And depending on the lens, they can turn out really beautiful. Of course, this is a toy so it has a pretty crappy plastic lens – but that’s not a reason not to try it out in my book. Apparently, in Sean’s book, too.
Adapting the toy lens
Sean started by disassembling the toy and taking the lens out. Since it’s made from rather translucent orange plastic, he covered the outside with gaff tape so the light doesn’t leak and create “an orange mess” instead of photos. He left the inside uncovered, though, as he was curious about the color tint the exposed orange plastic will give to the photos.
Since the flange focal distance of the lens is very small, Sean used two solutions depending on the focus he wanted to achieve. For focusing to infinity, he used Fotodiox macro extension tubes: only the mount part and the 7mm ring. A little more gaff tape to put it all together, and Sean was able to use his lens to focus from about 6 feet to infinity.
For focusing close up, Sean used a Leica M to Sony E helicoid adapter. With this setup, he was able to shoot from 6 feet to a couple of inches. And of course, he just had to shoot Ghostbuster toy figurines with it. But other than that, he took a bunch of other close-up shots and they look pretty neat!
Pros and cons
The main drawback of this lens is that, well, it’s a toy lens. And it contains all the other downsides: the color fringing is terrible, the photos are tinted orange, and the lens is only sharp in the very center.
Still, these don’t have to be downsides if experimental photography is what you’re after. The GhhostZapper lens creates a super lo-fi, soft, and retro look. And while I’m not a fan of it in landscapes, it looks very nice and dreamy in close-up shots. After all, if you’re after having fun with photography and trying something new – I’m sure you’ll enjoy trying something like this yourself.