Film enthusiasts may be aware of lomography, a photography genre that explores crappy analog cameras and the unpredictable images they produce. But digital cameras, by nature, have trouble fitting in this space. That’s why Christopher Getschmann (Volzo on YouTube) set out to make a pair of intentionally wonky “digital toy cameras” using a Pi Zero and some very strange lenses.
The digital toy cameras are quite unique, with custom 3D-printed housing, random components (that’s a yellow LEGO piece in the above image), and of course, some Raspberry Pi brains. A cheap Pi Zero W powers the cameras, plus a 5MP Pi imaging sensor, which isn’t supposed to work with interchangeable lenses. (The second-gen Pi Camera exists for that purpose.)
As Getschmann notes, it’s difficult to find a small and decent image sensor without buying into the Pi ecosystem, which is why there probably aren’t too many custom digital cameras floating around. That’s pretty interesting, but I’m more excited about those custom lenses.
In the spirit of lomography, Christopher Getschmann put together the most ridiculous interchangeable lenses I’ve ever seen in a digital camera. There’s a tilt lens that makes faraway subjects look like toys, a rise and fall lens that eliminates distortion when photographing buildings, and a dual-lens system to imitate TLR cameras like the Rolleiflex.
If you want a complete picture of these cameras, I suggest watching Getschmann’s YouTube video and visiting the tinkerer’s blog. You can also try to build your own digital toy camera using resources uploaded to Getschmann’s GitHub.