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James Guerin’s 20-Lens DIY Camera

Photographer James Guerin has made a 20-lens camera that gives some pretty unusual and artistic results. Take a look…

James Guerin’s 20-Lens DIY Camera , canvas prints online
For those who don’t know this, photography started with pin hole observations. A pin hole is able to bend light rays very much like a lens does so; but the images it creates are less sharp to put things very bluntly. Pin hole cameras are relatively easy to construct and easy to use. Multiple lens pin hole cameras quite simply use multiple such lenses to open up whole new creative
possibilities to the photographer. And just like cameras with lenses allow for better quality images than pin hole, so do multiple lens cameras allow for higher quality than multiple pin holes!

Multiple ‘lens’ pinhole cameras have been in use for a while, and they are easy to construct and easy to use for the lack of focusing and shutter arrangements. Photographer James Guerin loved the results so much that he decided to construct a ‘lensed’ version.

‘When I saw the effects I could achieve with the pinhole multi-cell I decided to go and build a lensed version. I thought that the in focus and blurred areas would add another dimension and open up a world of original portraits…’

His camera consists of 20 cheap convex lenses of identical focal lengths 150mm each, and at the 300mm focus he is able to thus create 1:1 magnification with the lens panel on which he has attached the 20. He says –
“Due to the nested box design concertina style focusing is possible from a distance of 300mm (where 1:1 magnification is achieved) to approximately 550mm (overlapping of cells occurs).”

Apparently, when you begin focusing further than 300mm, the results start getting really interesting with overlapping split images from the individual lenses. Take a look! Guerin shoots on photo sensitive paper but hopes to shoot on 8 x 10 X-Ray films in the near future. By the way, this shutter on the camera is nothing but a sliding plate. If you don’t already know this, photo paper is generally much ‘slower’ in ISO and requires longer exposure times to film, so a sliding shutter that is operated manually is precise enough given the longer exposures. At the same time, the inclusion of lenses on this camera eliminates the need for ultra-long exposures that the pin hole version demanded.

The photographer states that ‘accurate focusing is achieved with the aid of a simple ‘ground glass’ (which is little more than Perspex and scotch tape on the camera!).

This is a complex DIY project that requires a good understanding of focusing and lenses in general. If you would like to work your way towards something similar, why not start with a simple one-pinhole model and work your way towards multiple pin holes and finally a lensed version? Do write in if you need clarifications or guidance on any aspect of the process. It is relatively simple to construct a pin hole lens for a DSLR.