Introduction: Handmade Smallest SLR Camera

Picture of Handmade Smallest SLR Camera

 Well, this is my great achievement. Building up world’s smallest working model film SLR camera. This camera, built with 90% of Copper and has Shutter, Viewfinder, Flip mirror, Film Cartridge, Cartridge carrier; Film advanced liver, focusable lens, with aperture and two extensional lenses for macro and wide angle. Its size width 56mm and height 30mm (Body only).

No machinery equipment used for this project except hand driller. This is a manual camera so it should be fully in mechanical based working and requires to use tiny screw & springs. The whole camera has around 65 handmade parts except screw, gear, spring.

The Shutter mechanism, works with four shutter blades made by floppy shutter metal and a driver copper shutter blade, copper blade drives all other four aluminum blades for opening and closing when shutter release button pressed. It is a process runs with seven 16 components. Shutter speed is fixed approximately to 1/60-1/90. Overall it measured about 3.3(W)x2(H)cms

Lens hood is made by PVC pipes and has one compound lens, with focusing system and two extensional lenses for Macro and wide angle also. Aperture, it consists four blades, 3 f stops, f points are 10, 6, 4 (not accurate), blade made by unexposed x ray Sheet.

It took 2 years for me to complete this work. Its size is 56mm X 32mm(Body only). And named it as Cu327. Cu – copper and 327- Melting point of lead because, I joined all the copper parts using lead and finally gave it a electroplating.

For film Developing, I built a small darkroom at my home and bought accessories for developing and printing of Black & white film.
Obviously I have to crop the film reel as per my small camera film holder’s size. Its height is about 10mm but it is quite difficult even though I kept provision for film cartridge. I had to drop the idea because film strip should be equal in height to move freely from film cartridge to loader and while trimming there are chances of getting scratches . Also I have enough films, so finally gone for strip films, it is easier to trim and no chance of wasting of films, only thing is after each shot I have to go darkroom and need to replace new unexposed one. If I use film real spindled in cartridge I can take about 20-25 snaps.

To get an 10x8 inches print from 11x10mm negetive film, i have to keep the Enlarger 8 feet far from the baseboard, for the first one i exposed with three different times, like 5 Sec, 20 Sec, and 1 Munit (Shown above). And focus was quite difficult to get sharp image, so finally gone for the smaller sizes.


Bb biz (author)2013-10-09

Hi r u selling this item? If so can u pls contact me thnx

aidanjarosgrilli (author)2013-09-19

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


crishrx (author)2011-10-07

Grateful thanks to all my voters and well-wishers...

Marker1024 (author)2011-09-25

Great job man really nice work from one photographer to another. next time try documenting your work from beginning to end, so some of us can get an idea how to build one ourselves. You have inspired me to try and make one of my own,
thanks for sharing!

DR0PH3AD (author)2011-08-26

Truly Amazing!

crishrx (author)DR0PH3AD2011-09-24

thank u...

tootall1121 (author)2011-08-30

amazing, tho not the most amazing working miniature I've ever seen. twp things come to mind, working quarter scale firearms, and exact, working, 1 24 th scale replicas of famous cars, also fitted with hidden remote control servos. I'm talking scale replicas of the engines, that run! The only things that had to be changed for them to work was the guy that did them had to invent a new kind of spark plug, and of course use a more readily vaporizing fuel, like normally used in scale model engines. Still, this is great work... though hardly very useful. If you really want to mess with some minds, get Tri-x pan film, and shoot pictures under very low light conditions. Then use a slow hydrogen peroxide push to make them come out. (You can get the info on that from Kodak) You won't believe how little light is required with that system.

crishrx (author)tootall11212011-09-24

i really appreciate u......... thanks, thanks for the suggestion, good tips.......

-chase- (author)2011-08-08

You should try a high rez film - depending on the camera - lens etc - you should see much better result in your print.

High rez film - a standard 35mm negative shot with a 2.8 lens produced a 9 meter x 15 meter photograph with little noise. Samples of the scan from the 9x15 meter image are online. even with the scan the noise factor is way down. thats pretty incredible - agreed.

Here is the whole image and a detail of the image. Scanned at 4000dpi - notice you can see the spokes clearly.
consider what i mention - the scan is going to add some noise, so imagine what the photograph would be like straight to photo via darkroom.

anyway - consider a high pro film for your mini camera - depending on the lens - you should get a great image using a bettergrade film.

crishrx (author)-chase-2011-08-09

Thanks dear..........

The thing is im living in India, these kind of B&W Films, Chemicals, Papers etc... are not available here, i need to import it from Europe countries, and its quite expensive also. I wont avoid B&W film photography until manufacturer stops its production.

Thanks for your tips, i will try this next time.

-chase- (author)crishrx2011-08-09

They are not available in the US either - we have to import them as well.

and they are not that expensive - only 3 or 4 dollars a roll or 134 to 179 INR per roll.

you can get kits for the whole thing - 3 or 4 rolls plus developing chemicals for aroun $15usd or 673 INR

anyhow - looks like a cool camera

sb4 (author)2011-08-09

How do you make all the different shaped parts with just a hand driller? What stock do you start with?



binaryben (author)2011-08-07

This isn't an instructable, this is just the creator showing off his creation...

Don't get me wrong, this is a lovely SLR camera, but I'd like to be able to build the things I see on Instructables.

crishrx (author)binaryben2011-08-09

sure....... i wil upload soon.....

Thank u.....................

binaryben (author)crishrx2011-08-09

You're going to upload instructions!? o.O

Wow, please do!

theSWIT (author)binaryben2011-08-07


crishrx (author)theSWIT2011-08-09


thickmike (author)binaryben2011-08-08

I have to say...even if this project was perfectly documented, I doubt I could build this.

Sometimes instructables is here to make us go "WOW!" and be inspired to do our own impossible thing.

crishrx (author)thickmike2011-08-09

I wil try to update my best........

ancienthart (author)2011-08-05

Aaaaggggh. For the love of god, make the plans available, either for free or sale!! :D

crishrx (author)ancienthart2011-08-09


Oscar_Scheepstra (author)2011-08-07

This is amazing! I am really impressed! Congratulations!

crishrx (author)Oscar_Scheepstra2011-08-09

Thank u...................

tkjtkj (author)2011-08-07

I'm in awe of what you accomplished! Even had you merely *thought* of doing this project, my hat would be off to you! I endorse the person here who suggested your next project be to carve a fully working swiss-type mechanical wristwatch.. yes, the small size, as a girl might wish to receive as a gift .. Although the Smithsonian Institute might want 'first dibs' !!!
And after that, why not build and launch a Hubble-sized space telescope, to show that your talents are suitable at any scale!
Now, how the hell did you build it??

crishrx (author)tkjtkj2011-08-09

Just checkout my website, in the Blog Catagory i have provided a telescope.

Thank u..........................

zoomroom (author)2011-08-07

You do know that there are decaffeinated varieties that are just as tasty?

WOW, what an accomplishment! Inspirational.

This is as pure as photography gets. I love this, you've made my day.

crishrx (author)zoomroom2011-08-09

Oh really...................... :-) Thank u..................

uuglypher (author)2011-08-07

Please understand that I couldn't be more impressed with what you accomplished; it's truly amazing. I do, however, find it impossible to imagine that anyone could duplicate your success simply from study of the list and illustrations of materials and scattered parts you provide. When I study an "Instructable" I expect to find instructions on how to build the project item. A good Instructable should encourage in the reader a reasonable expectation of being able to accomplish the goal / goals of the project. Having read your Instructable I have no such expectation. Is a "Part II - Assembly Instructions" in preparation?

crishrx (author)uuglypher2011-08-09

The current document i took it from my site, and it is shortened. I going to upload some more pics and docs.............. thank u...............

Shadetree Engineer (author)2011-08-07

So now you know why it's always a good idea to take the time to document 'as you go' when involved with an important project like this. I'm sure Instructables won't mind if it takes you years to fully write-up your next project, which I hope you do. Maybe you could add some steps to this one, going over how to make a replacement part? What would you consider is the most important part to build first? There's been a few potential projects I've been building, that I never posted here because I just wanted to get them done! So I know how tuff it can be.

Sure dear, .................. really...............

jskingry (author)2011-08-07

Wow!!! Simply incredible!!!!

crishrx (author)jskingry2011-08-09

Thank u....

antonc81 (author)2011-08-08

Amazing! Hopefully for your next project there will be more photos of the process.

crishrx (author)antonc812011-08-09

Sure................. thank u.............

tzetaochenta (author)2011-08-08

Really nice work ... inspiring!

crishrx (author)tzetaochenta2011-08-09

Thank u..............

thickmike (author)2011-08-08

Go on, admit it, you actually only made a very large scale metal ruler!! awesome build.

crishrx (author)thickmike2011-08-09

:-) thank u.................

emerson.john (author)2011-08-07

This is certainly incomplete as an instructable, but I think it is a worthy submission just because of the accomplishment itself. I suspect that a complete instructable for this camera project would be a very large file. Perhaps we could purchase the DVD.

@chrisrx Thank you! You have provided me with the inspiration to customize a CCD back for one of my old AE-1s, a project I have been postponing for over a year. That does not look like such a big project now!

crishrx (author)emerson.john2011-08-09

ya i realized now....... i wil upload my best soon....
ya i also planed to digitize my Nikon F75. I like classic photography, means all the camera controls should be in our grip (Hand). suggest me the same kind of DSLR. (Instead of film just CCD that all)

thank you................

binaryben (author)emerson.john2011-08-08

Blogs are good for showing off. I like coming for instructions. Just my 2 cents.

kmpres (author)emerson.john2011-08-08

What an amazing project this is! Please give us some more details as I'd love to see how you made all the small parts and fitted them together in such a small package. Truly an inspiring piece of work!

As inspiring but perhaps requiring fewer small parts, converting your old AE-1 to digital use would be another worthwhile project. I have an AE-1 Program that just gets moldier each time I look at it and have often wanted to restore it, then convert it to digital use. A local camera shop had the effrontery to tell me its value was "zero" and I was never more insulted! It's in perfect shape, just a few streaks inside the lens. Everything still works. A careful dis-assembly, a little cleaner, a little oil, and she'll be as good as new. Digitizing it would actually make it useful again. Just wish this crazy recession would give me the time to do some of the projects that I've been saving.

jackfaciale (author)2011-08-08

you should put a coin so we can figure out what the scale is

crishrx (author)jackfaciale2011-08-09

ya, i will upload soon...

AwajiMan (author)jackfaciale2011-08-08

I think the microSD card is a good point of reference. That would make the width x length not much bigger than a compact flash card.

sb4 (author)2011-08-08

Have to agree with the awe-struck... truly amazing project to attempt much less complete.

Do you have experience in camera repair?

What was your approach? Did you study an existing camera and make each part a smaller copy (except lens mount)?

It would make a great story if you can remember your day-to-day progress, problems, frustrations, and solutions.

There is a book called "Sloop" where the author makes a good story out of repairing a sailboat. I hope you make a story of your camera project.

Best regards,


crishrx (author)sb42011-08-09

thank u..............
No i dont have expnce in camera repire, but i know how it works, basic principle, and all, just checkout my blog page Photo n graph in my site

I cant forget all those days.......... for the third camera i took almost two years to complete, and i used to get only Sundays and other holidays,

sure, lets see.....

thank u once again.....................

sb4 (author)2011-08-08

I realize now you made the lens assembly also -- yikes!

crishrx (author)sb42011-08-09

it is a compound lens took it from old ricoh camera, but i added adjustable aperture, focusing etc.... At the beginning i assembled some lens components, in lens hood, later i dropped it coz i didnt get proper lens elements.

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Bio: Passionately Tinker and Hacker.
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