Can You 3D Print Your Own Film Camera? Yes... Yes You Can.

(SLO Camera by Amos Dudley)

Ah, isn't technology great? Amos Dudley has created what may be the world's first fully functioning 3D printed film camera... down to the lens.

(3D printed lens by Amos Dudley)

How crazy is that? It also required a lot of sanding and precision work that most home tinkerers are not willing or able to accomplish, but still, it can be accomplished. How does one even begin to put this all together?

Well, Amos started with a question. What exactly makes up a camera? Once he broke it down it its essential parts he came up with this list of the basic elements of a camera:

  • Film cartridge
  • Path of film across the frame
  • Film takeup spools on the other side of the frame
  • A set of gears to rotate the spools at the right speed
  • A shutter
  • An aperture plane
  • A lens
  • A door to access the film
  • A lightproof box to hold it all
Look at what he made out of that list! It really doesn't look that different from the Olympus camera sitting next to it.

(SLO camera on left by Amos Dudley)

Innovation often comes from a need that's not serviced or can't be fulfilled easily. Hence the barrage of 3D printed guns and gun parts that made news when cheap home printers first became available. But a film camera? You can probably go on eBay or Craigslist and find what used to be a top of the line film camera or less than 50 bucks They're abundant, cheap and have far better optics than what you can currently make at home. So, why make one? Because once you know you can build something like this, it opens up your eyes and shatters the previously perceived limitations of the device. I mean could you imagine a shutter opening like this on a 3D printed camera before today?

So here's the big question. What do the images look like? They look like they came from a camera you bought at Urban Outfitters to shoot a music video for Lana Del Rey. Dreamy, ethereal and from another era.

SLO landscape amos dudley.jpg
(SLO landscape by Amos Dudley)

SLO-camera_lion amos dudley.jpg
(SLO image by Amos Dudley)

Check out Amos's blog to download the plans and learn more about how he made such an amazing camera.