We love horrible hacks like this. It’s a lens and a ring of LEDs, taped to a cell phone. Powered through crocodile clips, also taped to the cell phone. There’s nothing professional here — we can think of a million ways to tweak this recipe. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
[edyb] uses his relatively inexpensive Cannon camera quite a bit. However, in dark areas or extreme closeups, the camera’s image quality leaves something to be desired. [edyb] hopped on the ‘net and found out that a ring light may cure his photo faux pas. Ring lights are nothing new but nothing existed for his lower-end point and shoot camera. With a USB-powered lamp and a spare AA battery pack kicking around, [edyb] decided to make his own.
First, the USB lamp was disassembled, luckily the LEDs were already laid out in a ring shape. The clear protective housing and gooseneck were discarded and the remaining PCB ring was glued directly to the camera. A female USB jack was then glued to the top of the camera and soldered to the two leads connected to the lamp’s PCB. The AA battery holder received a small switch and a male USB plug, also courtesy of a few dabs of glue. The now-assembled battery pack plugs directly into the camera via the USB connector and is its only method of attachment.
The utilitarian modification may look crude but the results are anything but. Check out this close-up macro shot of a Canadian penny. Not too bad.
[edyb] has done some similar mods to other cameras, attaching components with magnets and even using an old Blackberry battery to power the LEDs showing that there is no one way to solve a problem. Check out the video after the break…
If you have ever played around with macro photography, you’ll know how hard it is to get a focused image of something that isn’t two-dimensional. For virtually every 3D object, you’ll have to deal with the depth of field – the small region where things are actually in focus. [David] came up with a neat homebrew solution for making sure everything in his macro photos is in focus using a discarded flatbed scanner and a Raspberry Pi.
[David]’s technique relies on focus stacking. Basically, [David] takes dozens of images of the same object, moving the camera closer by a fraction of an inch before snapping each frame. These pictures are stitched together with CombineZ, a piece of software used for extending the depth of field in images.
The hardware part of the build is a Raspberry Pi hooked up to a stepper motor driver and the shutter button of [David]’s camera. By attaching his camera to the carriage of a flatbed scanner, [David] can inch his camera ever closer to his object of study while grabbing the images for CombineZ.
The results are impressive, and would be nearly impossible to replicate any other way without tens of thousands of dollars in camera equipment.
[fotoopa] just put up a Flikr build log of his 3D macro photography rig he uses to take pictures of insects in flight. Outside Hollywood or National Geographic, we’ve never seen a crazier photography rig.
[fotoopa]’s build is based around two cameras – a Nikon D200 and D300. These cameras are pointed towards the subject insect with two mirrors allowing for a nice stereo separation for 3D images. Of course, the trouble is snapping the picture when an insect flies in front of the rig.
For shutter control, [fotoopa] used two IR laser pointers pointed where the two cameras converge. A photodiode in a lens above the rig detects this IR dot and triggers the shutters. To speed up the horribly slow 50ms shutters on the Nikons, a high-speed shutter was added so the image is captured within 3ms.
[fotoopa]’s 2011 rig took things down a notch; this year he’s only working with one camera. Even though he didn’t get any 3D images this year, the skill in making such an awesome rig is impressive.
Disposable coffee maker
[Sepehr] didn’t have a coffee maker, and the local coffee shops were all out of joe. He got his fix by making a drip coffee maker out of disposable cups and knives.
Flexible braille display
Thin film technology is being developed to help the visually impaired. This flexible OLED display has embedded muscle cells which create a braille display. [Thanks Aaron]
Printable iPhone tripod mount
Looking to make those iPhone videos a little more stable, and the pictures a little less blurry? Try out this printable tripod mount that [Chris] came up with.
Arduino macro photos
Speaking of photographs, [Daniel] wrote in to share some macro pictures he took of an Arduino. They’re sure to be of interest to those readers who love everything Arduino.
Carpeting a mouse
Add a unique texture to your mouse by covering part of the body with fabric. The lower half of the mouse case above is covered in a carpet-like material [translated]. [Thanks Clicker]
[Tim] photographs insects for bugguide.net. As you can imagine, macro photography is a must. He was very frustrated with his camera’s stock ability to capture the insects. You can see in the example on his site that the image is blurry and has some color issues. He did some research and hacked together a method of getting fantastic macro images for relatively cheap. He used the reversed lens method to get his macro lens set up. He then modded his camera with CHDK for more control. He found that his focal distance was too small to get the entire bug in focus, so he took 15 images at different distances and combined them to make the final image. We’re curious how the pringles can macro lens would compare to this. Thanks for the submission [sp’ange]. Lets see some more tips.
Reader [Harald] sent us this sweet Pringles can macro photography hack from way back in 2005. Using a Pringles can and a standard Cannon 50mm MKII lens, they have produced some amazing results. The image above is the tip of a ballpoint pen. Not only does he go through the steps to make it, but then goes in depth on how to best set your camera and other good practices for macro photography. Pringles cans aren’t just for holding chips and making wireless antenna.
We’ve covered several macro photography rigs before, like how to do macro photography with your iPhone, or with a flip camera, and even how to build a massive laser controlled macro photography setup.