Photographer builds twin-lens camera using Lego — and yes, it works

Freelance photographer Carl-Frederic Salicath admits that he’s not averse to a bit of drooling when it comes to looking over the latest product releases in the world of digital cameras, but at the same time he’s always been fascinated by early photographic devices such as the Kodak Brownie.

“I marvel at how simple [the Brownie] is,” Carl-Frederic, who lives in Norway, writes on his blog. “A lens (that’s one lens-element, one!) a shutter blade, an aperture (in some cameras a metal plate with two different holes drilled into it) and some rolls to keep the film in place. That is all it took to shoot great pictures.”

To understand the simplicity of such cameras better, Carl-Frederic decided to build one by himself. Inspired by American Cary Norton, who last year built a 4×5-inch large-format camera also out of lego bricks, Carl-Frederic wanted to build a fully functional Twin-Lens Reflex (TLR) using 120-film. Whereas Cary’s contraption had no moving parts, Carl-Frederic wanted to use 120 roll film in his device and so would need to incorporate a winding system, a shutter, and a way to control the light with an aperture.

He used lenses from an old pair of binoculars for his camera, which he called the Legoflex. In such a twin-lens camera, one lens is used for the viewfinder image and the other for exposing the film. He then proceeded to use Lego blocks to build the camera around the lenses.

There were a number of issues along the way — all of which are described in his detailed blog post about the creation of the Legoflex — but nothing he couldn’t overcome.

The result is a dazzlingly colorful contraption that, yes, does take pictures (see below) — though one assumes he won’t be replacing his dSLR with it anytime soon.

“Well, there you have it. Cameras can be made simple!” Carl-Frederic wrote at the end of his blog post about the Legoflex. “Something to think about when you buy your next helluva-lot-of MP DLSR with built in HDR and smile-detecting-auto-trigger.”

[All images: Carl-Frederic Salicath]

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