I want to do more time-lapse photography without having to trigger the camera manually. I also didn’t want to spent over $100 for a professional model, so I built this one for about $20 (not including the empty Altoids tin). It’s a snug fit between the electronics, switches, 9V battery and wires, so the rubber bands keep it securely shut.
The switch on the bottom is on/off, other switch is for long or short periods between pictures. The potentiometer varies the time from 3 to 30 seconds (short setting) and 30 seconds to 4:30 minutes (long setting). At the other end is a 3.5mm phone jack that I plug the camera into.
Hopefully I’ll get out and use it tomorrow.
Strobist info: Canon 430EXII into umbrella to left of camera. Tin is resting on ‘custom Lego stand’ on top of white foam core. Exposure bumped up in Lightroom.
Update: First test shot of a sunset posted on Vimeo. Be sure to watch the HD version.
A ring flash is such a popular and easy DIY project that I finally couldn’t resist the temptation to make one myself. I’ll post some detailed instructions on how to make one (like this) when I have more time, but most of you should be able to figure out the essentials just by looking at the finished product.
- plastic dome (originally intended for covering food in a microwave oven)
- a tin (sans fruit salad)
- something with male filter threads on it; I used a very cheap Cokin P filter holder clone
- aluminium baking foil
Total cost of materials (excluding paint and glue) was approx. €7 (and we ate the fruit salad from the tin; it’s included as a bonus). Of course, a regular flashgun is also required, and with this method of mounting the flash you need some way to trigger it off-camera (optical triggering by the built-in flash would work nicely since light from the trigger flash is blocked by the dome).
One thing to consider with this method of construction is that the lens cannot have rotating filter threads (when zooming or focusing), because they almost certainly would not welcome having to fight the weight of the ring flash, and the flashgun position would change during focusing (mine doesn’t fall even if it’s under the ring, but I wouldn’t count on it). The best lens for this is a prime with internal focusing (i.e. length doesn’t change depending on focus), but an extending macro lens worked fine in my experiments. For flimsier lenses it is probably better to mount the ring on the camera somehow (e.g. with some kind of holder attached to the tripod threads), or hand-hold the flashgun above the ring instead of supporting its weight on it.
DIY Lens mount conversion, results (see below for “how to”)
Here is the completed Minolta 58mm f/1.2 modification mounted on my Sony A100 DSLR. Originally the lens is for the Minolta MC mount, which can not adapted to the Minolta AF mount “passively”, i.e. any adapter would need to have optical elements to maintain infinity focus (at the expense of image quality). I managed to replace the mount on the lens itself by substituting an M42 to Minolta AF adapter for the original mount. After readjusting focus on the lens, it now aligns perfectly with the original distance scale, all the way to infinity.
While I did this for the Sony/Minolta AF system, the guide to the modification (see below) applies to any current DSLR system for which you can get a suitable adapter, e.g. an M42 to Canon EOS or a glassless M42 Nikon adapter can be used.
The lens was chosen because there is no f/1.2 lens available for the Minolta AF mount and most other f/1.2 lenses available tend to be either extremely expensive, hard to find, and/or far inferior (e.g. the Tomioka 50mm f/1.2 for M42 is not very good). This lens, on the other hand, cost me about €100 and has bokeh worthy of legends. It is not the sharpest of lenses, but it has very pleasant image characteristics and is a lot of fun to use.
I recently updated this modification by installing a microchip which identifies itself as a 60mm f/1.1 lens (closest setting available at the moment). The chip was kindly provided by James Lao, who makes custom chips and M42 to Minolta AF adapters. If you use an electric adapter for the mount, the exact same guide can be used, or you can later install the microchip on the adapter (as I did).
With electronics the focus confirmation and in-camera anti-shake both work with this beast. (Focus confirmation doesn’t depend on reported focal length, and for anti-shake the slight difference doesn’t really matter that much.) The in-camera anti-shake of Sony DSLRs makes this a low-light photography marvel.
See the pictures beginning from here for my complete writeup on doing the modification. This method can also be applied to some other lenses, and certainly for converting to camera mounts other than Minolta AF.