Cookie Projector Uses That Dusty Film Camera Of Yours

This hack is not for photographers with weak hearts. We’re going to be talking about destroying the body of a Single-Lens Reflex camera. But out of destruction comes something new. A broken camera paired with a flash and functional optics can be used to project light patterns for picture backgrounds.

The hardware is often referred to as a cookie projector, and a commercial unit can cost several hundred dollars. But if you or someone you know has a non-functional film SLR you’re already half way to making your own. Just snap off the back cover, yank out the mirror and shutter, and the bloody part is over. Slap on a lens with a large aperture, create your own slide with the pattern you’d like to see in your images, and affix a flash to the gaping hole on the back of the camera body. The video after the break shows the diy cookie projector hanging out on the flash stand, synchronized with your DSLR flash to add some pizzazz to the photo shoot.

[vimeo w=470]

11 thoughts on “Cookie Projector Uses That Dusty Film Camera Of Yours

  1. In a crude sense, a camera and a projector are just inverses of each other. Sometimes this is said as “the camera is the dual of the projector” by mathy types.

    Julius Von Bismarck did this, too, and called it the “image fulgurator” which is bad for googling but also sounds badass.

    You don’t need the camera body, though. All it does is make it easy to mount the lens and film in the right place.

    All that said, cameras and camera lenses don’t make very good projectors. You’d get better results pulling the optical assembly out of an old slide projector and putting your flash where the old light source was. One major reason for this is that the physical aperture size of a camera lens is typically smaller than on a projection lens.

  2. When HAD embeds vimeo videos I can’t view them in the HAD post, all I see is a no mobile version. I’m using my desktop,and view vimeo videos just fine otherwise.

    The fulgurator. In the event it performs as depicted,and becomes popular I’m sure we can expect security to be looking for it. Having persons surreptitiously propagating subversive images, messages will not do. The Obama one was so subtle I surprised people noticed in on the LCD in daylight. That they can better see LCD in daylight better than I.

  3. As it turns out, I have a pre-thrashed minolta body I ebayed for parts, suitably-sized flashes, and plenty of prime lenses. I was considering ditching the body, so this gives me a rationale for continuing to pack rat it.

  4. I cringed when I saw this!

    I just have to say…


    seriously, this would work ok, but only just.
    as the other bloke pointed out a slide projector works much better.
    you need the condenser optics in front of the light source.

  5. I don’t see the point of destroying a camera just to get to a lens that can be unscrewed. Just slap the lens onto a box, put the slide in the box and attach the flash to the opposite side. No destruction required!

  6. I’ve done this (much less destructively though) and it works well enough for projecting patterns/words etc as a special effect. It wasn’t that great for projecting photographic backgrounds. As others have said, something built out of a projector would work better for that.

    Rather than taking the back off, I just used it, some cardboard packing and a rubber band as part of the support for the flash.

    Rather than ripping out the mirror and shutter, I left them in place but put the camera in bulb mode and use a cable release to lock it off.

    By doing that, I can look through the viewfinder, focus the lens on the surface I’m projecting onto, then lock the mirror up with the cable release.

    That takes all the guesswork out of focussing, and if I take the flash head off I can still slap a film in the camera and use it for its intended purpose!

  7. Interesting hack but a waste…

    There are so many much easier ways to make a poor mans cookie projector. Glass shards glued to plywood with a light aimed to project the reflections on to the background for example.

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