This guy created a working camera inside Blender that actually shoots photos

Jun 23, 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.

Jun 23, 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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This has to be one of the most surreal and meta things I’ve ever seen in the world of photography. 3D has played a big part in photography since the world switched to digital. It’s playing an even bigger part in video lately, with all the buzz around virtual sets. But what’s been done here by sirrandalot on YouTube is pretty extreme. He built a working camera to shoot photos inside his 3D scenes.

I was captivated by this video from the instant it started up. It begins the way many Blender videos end. It begins with a render, but this isn’t good enough for sirrandalot. Oh no. He proceeds to build an actual camera with a lens using real optical formulas. He uses it to “photograph”, using real physics principles, his 3D scenes Blender.

[Related reading: Blender for photographers – Compositing photography with CG elements]

The video is only five and a half minutes long, but it takes you on a geeky roller coaster that begins with creating a pinhole camera. We then whizz through some optical maths theory, discussing the pros and cons of different colours of light travelling at different speeds before ending up with an actual lens. The camera actually looks through the 3D optics to view the scene as if it were a real lens.

It’s an interesting concept that I’ve actually thought about before. If I knew anything at all about designing a lens, I probably would’ve given it a go to see if it even worked. Obviously, it does.

Unfortunately, sirrandalot hasn’t made his camera model available to download. But it would be interesting to see if anybody else has a go. Virtual cameras like these would be an interesting way to render various scenes. If you’ve got virtual optics based on real physics, you’d be able to create the kinds of distortion and character so well loved in old lenses.

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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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2 responses to “This guy created a working camera inside Blender that actually shoots photos”

  1. Hans J. Nielsen Avatar
    Hans J. Nielsen

    Is this a bad joke or has the author really no idea how computers works?
    This video has nothing to do with a camera that takes pictures as there is no camera. That is just a rendering inside blender. It takes no pictures. It is just “a program” to display a picture that the author also rendered inside Blender.

    This video is about overcomplicating things. Like by making two rendering inside Blender (the camera and the object you want to showcase) so you can show that one as a 2d image.
    Blender can do that without the camera.

    Very well-made video though. Worth watching.

  2. Michael Elliott Avatar
    Michael Elliott

    But is it medium format or 35mm? 🤣