Watch a drop of water turn into a camera lens with just some electricity

Water and electricity don’t mix — unless of course you are designing a camera lens. To prove just how pure its water is, bottled water company Spa Nederland launched an experiment to design a camera lens using just a drop of water, electricity, an aperture ring, and a glass plate.

A water droplet makes a concave shape that works as a perfect lens, particularly when that water droplet is applied to a repellent surface. The droplet and glass plate was added to an set of aperture blades, which allows the photographer to control the camera’s f-stop. That custom lens was set on top of a digital camera sensor for one of the oddest camera constructions yet, alongside lensless cameras and 3D-printed lenses.

While the shape of a water droplet will bend light much like the glass inside a traditional lens, the next problem was tackling a way to focus the image. Traditional lenses use multiple glass pieces to reshape the light, and when the shape of the object meets up with the sensor, the image is in focus. Instead, the researchers used electric currents to reshape the water, which allows the shape of the lens to adjust, altering the focus.

The company, in a cleverly thought out out advertisement, put that water-based camera in the hands of photographer Robin de Puy. The photographer then captured a series of portraits with the water-based lens.

While most photographers try to avoid getting water on their lens, the idea of hacking a water droplet’s magnifying and light bending properties isn’t entirely new. One iPhone photography hack suggests using a water drop instead of a macro lens while the Best Experimental Film from Manchester’s 2016 film festival was shot entirely with a waterdroplet lens. Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute created a water lens that focused with the vibrations from sound waves back in 2008.

While the lens may have been constructed as a way to advertise bottled water, the science behind why — and how — the lens works makes it a fascinating watch.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

Photography News: Meet the beer that processes film and the first pinhole zoom

Who knew the photography world need film-processing beer and a zooming pinhole lens? Find them among the oddities announced in this week's photography news. SuperEight is a beer with the acidity and Vitamin C ideal for developing film.
Wearables

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.
Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.
Photography

Loupedeck Plus can now edit video, audio with Final Cut Pro

The list of Loupedeck Plus-compatible software is growing. The photo-editing console now works with Final Cut Pro and Adobe Audition for video and audio editing. The controls can be configured to be used on either platform.
Photography

Photography News: Taking a smartphone photo probably saved this guy’s life

A man was snapping a photo in Australia when the smartphone stopped an arrow shot at his face. In this week's photography news, see Canon's plans for a stabilized mirrorless, Hasselblad's newest accessories, Samyang's latest lens, and more.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.
Photography

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Photography

Sony’s latest sensor is stacked, backlit, and equipped with a global shutter

Say this five times fast: Backlit, stacked, global shutter sensor. Sony managed to cram all three technologies into one sensor. The result is a high-speed sensor with a higher resolution without sacrificing low-light quality.
Mobile

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Photography

Looking to keep prying eyes at bay? Here's how to hide photos on your iPhone

People take tons of photos using their smartphones, but not all are meant to be shared or seen. Luckily, hiding photos on your iOS device is easy, whether you want to use built-in utilities or apps with added security.