$6 Macro Tilt Lens Without Glue or Duct Tape





Introduction: $6 Macro Tilt Lens Without Glue or Duct Tape

About: In my free time, I like building and repairing almost anything especially with found or recycled materials.

I just came back from the Christchurch SuperShed (our city council recycling centre) where I bought a discarded slide projector for $6.  In less than an hour, I turned the projector lens into a tilt macro lens for my dSLR.  I know there have been lots of these sorts of projects but I tried to do this one without hot glue or gaffer tape so hopefully my process will help you to turn your odd lenses into useable ones.

Step 1: Finding the Right Lens

Any lens can be adapted as long as the distance from the back of the lens to the focal point (slide, film, or whatever it is projecting from or to...) is more than the distance from the flange (where the lens attaches) to the sensor.  Don't stick a ruler into your camera, just look it up.  For my camera (Olympus 4/3rds), the flange distance is 38.67mm (Wikipedia - Lens Mount) and the back of the slide projector lens to where the slide would be is around 45mm.

This lens has a focal length of 85mm, and compared with some of the other lenses I saw, I guess it is about f2.8. I should point out that most projection lenses do not have variable apertures so you have to shoot with them wide open (shallow depth of field).  This one has a spiral groove which makes it easier when enabling twist focus.


Step 2: Additional Materials

In addition to the lens, you'll need a length of hose and a body cap for your dSLR.

Step 3: Determining Infinity Focus

Hold up the lens to your camera and point to something in the distance.  Move the lens in and out until the distant objects come into focus.  This lens came into focus around 10mm out from the camera flange.  Measure the distance from just inside the camera flange to the end of the lens and that's the length you need to cut your hose.

Step 4: Cut a Hole in Your Body Cap

Cut, melt, and/or nibble a hole into the middle of of your body cap, slightly larger than the inside diameter of your hose.  This will allow you to fix (or screw) your hose onto the body cap without glue or tape.  Ideally, you should find a hose that the lens fits into but allows it to move and twist (to focus).

Step 5: Holey Body Cap

My hose was spiraled so I cut a notch on one side so I could thread the hose through it.  If your hose isn't spiraled, you don't need the notch.  Also, I'm using an old Konica AR body cap so I stole a hair tie from my daughter so it fits on a 4/3rds body.  I use this same trick for all my Konica AR lenses but don't use the hair ties with metal crimps unless you like scratches on your lens and camera.

Step 6: Put It All Together

Screw the hose into the body cap and slide the lens into the hose.

If your tube is wonkey (it's not straight enough for your liking) try making a wider notch and/or sloping the edges of the notch to better fit the spiral.

When it all looks good, put the lens on the camera and point it at something in the distance and see whether it comes into focus with the lens pushed all the way in.  If it's not in focus and moving the lens out doesn't fix it, your tube is too long.  Cut off a few millimeters at a time and retry until until it's in focus.

Move the lens in for distant objects and out for close objects.  For macro work, use a longer piece of hose and bend the hose around for the tilt function.

Set your dSLR to A or M and go take some photos....

Step 7: Adding Twist Focus

If your lens has spiral grooves (like mine), you can add a screw to the inside of the hose and now you can focus by twisting the lens.

If your lens doesn't have spiral grooves, and you used a spiral hose, you can add a screw to the outside of your lens (the part that is inside the hose) and it will also allow twist focusing.

Step 8: Sample Photos

Here are a few sample photos I've taken with the lens.  Because it is wide open, it is difficult to focus near and distant objects at the same time, but that "Bokeh" is what some photographers are looking for.  The first Altoids tin photo is to establish the scale, then I took the second photo as close as I could focus.  This would be as "macro" as the original tube could be.  As a test of "how close could I go" I replaced the original hose with a 300 mm (12 inch)  section of hose and took the last photo.  It was pretty unwieldy and I can't see many people walking around with a foot-long droopy lens on their camera but it was fun to try.



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    Addition of a filter ring and iris/aperture disk, while adding cost, would really add to this lens.

    Time to find someone throwing out an old projector, and make a custom lens :D

    Thanks this seems simple and cheap (tilt shift lenses are like £1000 whilst projector lenses are around £10) (unlike other instructables which seem rather complicated). I may make this to use for 'toy town effect' for my A level work.

    1 reply

    Tilt shift would be easy to achieve as long as you have a flexible tube. One easy way to do it would be put your DSLR on a tripod and move the lens at different angles in front of it and you'll quickly work out the rough field of view, focal range and tilt you'll need to achieve. After that, it's just a matter of determining how "tidy" a job you want to do.

    duh projector lens!
    i am currently experimenting with the shift and tilt thing,hav orderd enlarger lens off ebay,also disasembled a ded sony handy cam,when iv got several slide/stuper8 projectors sitting in the attic.
    looking forward to reading the rest of your adheisve free approach to assembely

    you have great results  I have been doing this with film camera and now digital on the  one lens may fit all

     Hi I checked outthis project and I am just getting in tophoto. i am not sure what this is doing. PLEASE do not take me wrong I just donot understand and for cheap if it does anything i could use i am VERY interested

    1 reply

    I bought my digital SLR just as a body (no lenses) and I have been having a great time buying old 35mm lenses and projection lenses to convert and use on it.

    With this in mind, I could distill this instructable into a few phrases:

    1) Its fun to see what types of lenses can be turned into usable ones for photography, and how you could do it.

    2) You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on lenses to get reasonable photographic results.

    3) Don't throw anything away until you make sure you can't upcycle it.

    This is cool. Is your camera a bronze color, or is that just because of the light in the first picture?

    4 replies

     No, it's not bronze, its just afternoon sun on the kitchen table, I mean photography studio.

    and you didn't adjust white balance? For shame!

    jk lol

     HaHa!  Looking at it again, the white balance is only one thing that is wrong with those pics....bad lens flare, blurry focus, grainy, crap in the background.  I wish I could blame the camera :)

    I didn't even see the picture. but since you mentioned it looked bronze because of light. You might be able to blame the camera if it is a point and shoot. I would know already if instructables didn't corrupt the exif data...

    And I just got rid of two projectors......ugh!

    Great to see a fellow Kiwi featured on here - especially a photography instructable :) 

    Very nice!

    Lookin for an old projector lens now. 

    You said it was pretty unwieldy, have you tried using it with a tripod?
    Maybe you could combine it with this other 'able
    1 reply

    Thanks for that. The lens in the pics is very easy to carry around & use.  In fact, the Olympus E-520 has image stabilization in the body so I just dial up 85mm and it works a treat.  It only gets unwieldy with the foot-long tube on it. That super macro shot (about 2:1 magnification) was about 2 inches away from the altoid tin and you don't gain anything from the flexibility of the hose.  Perhaps a PVC pipe slid over the hose would be more stable for a super-macro walkaround

    That is really really amazing.  The image quality is astounding, and the final picture of the altoids tin just proves how effective this is.  Great 'ible!

    Yeah, we're pretty lucky.  Hey, there were two more slide projectors there last week; one was a Hanimex with a big (but pretty dusty) 85mm lens.  I was surprised to see some LCD monitors being recycled....Great for Instructables projects!

     My fujifilm takes better pictures than that WITHOUT a macro lens