The Focal Camera project is looking to make the art of building a DIY camera accessible to masses, and their open source catalog of templates and instructions is making it happen. The modular system works much like the way Legos work–meaning the individual components of a camera are each made separately and can be used together in a variety of ways.
When you visit FocalCamera.com, you can browse through all the awesome cameras that have been made so far using the modular system, as well as some example photos taken with the creations. You can also download the plans for all of the exisiting modules (more will added in the future). In those plans, you’ll find a .svg file which includes the free templates you’ll need to laser cut the pieces. You’ll also get a .pdf with assembly instructions.
Obviously, not everyone has access to a laser cutter, but FocalCamera suggests you do a quick search to source a local business that offers custom laser cutting, or in some locations, an art or tool coop which may let you use the machine yourself for a nominal fee.
The modules should be cut from 3mm acrylic plastic wood plates. They can be glued and/or taped together, depending on how light proof you want your camera to be. For the lenses and glass elements, older glass is typically repurposed.
“Lenses can either be pre-existing lenses that can be fit to lensboards or created from scratch using broken or re-used elements. Old & cheap zoom lenses can be disassembled for a variety of lens elements that allow the creation of a new lens, simply by playing around.”
To learn more about the Focal Camera, visit their website and join their forum, here. You can also check out some great behind the scenes shots from a recent 2-day workshop where participants built their own modular camera systems.