Classic SLR Camera Flashlight Hack




Introduction: Classic SLR Camera Flashlight Hack

About: No more fun than demolition, designing, building, experimenting! I like making things on a really low budget , so most people in this world, who are poor, might benefit from my ideas

Note: as I like to enter the flashlight contest, I post the instructable now.  There were some major problems, which I will fix the coming week...

Broken or totally obsolete SLR cameras can still look very cool and professional, and have a great feel to it.
To get knowledge of the build, and see which parts are in it, spend time to take one apart.

Total disassembly involves tearing off the rubber grips of the body and glued sheet aluminum inside, taking off the knobs etc. to get to screws, so the chance putting it back looking nicely is slim.

Here we are interested in an impressive appearance, not optical quality.


Old or broken SLR (I got a broken Practica B 200, made in the DDR, for E 3.50 in the 2nd hand store). It is fitted with a 50 mm F 1.8 standard lens, in great shape. The camera weighs a whopping 750 g and came with half of its leather case.

One or two 9 (or so) cheap LED flashlights.

Some scrap wire.

As the picture comment says, I bricked the camera by closing it while the unlocking mechanism was removed. Don't want to ruin it with a grinding wheel, sledge hammer or chainsaw, but just got another camera from the 2nd hand store. When it is done, I'll rewrite the instructable...

Step 1: Clearing Out Space Inside the Camera

Put the lens away for now.  The LED will be fitted in back, so the elements to be removed are the shutter and the mirror.

There are tiny screws here and there, but trying to take the (very thin aluminum sheet metal)  top of will result in knicking and bending, ruining the appearance of the camera. The bottom is sturdier, but only reveals a small space, packed with small steel parts.

So: destructive it will be!! Shutters of SLRs are usually made of cloth, but this one is made of tempered sheet metal pieces! So not only the camera is abused, but my scissors as well!  The mirror seems very difficult to remove, so it is left in place, propped up by a rectangular tube made of shiny sheet metal.

The battery compartment and on/off switch might be placed inside the camera, but this would involve a huge amount of dremeling (the film compartment is just a tad too small for the battery holder). It also would require lots of work on top of the camera, to install a nice looking switch.

Instead, the flashlight housing, with the battery holder and switch already in place, is the external power source. It can be tucked under the camera or kept separately in a (breast) pocket.

Step 2: Modding the Flashlight

The flashlight used is a compact 9 LED model with aluminum housing and a rubber switch, available for E 0.99.

The front end has a plastic 'lens', a shiny plastic reflector around the LEDs, and of course the circuit board with the LEDs.

The circuit board contacts the battery holder in its center, and the (switched) metal housing at its edge. It needs to be replaced with the same type of construction. I used an identical circuit board from yet another flashlight from which I desoldered the LEDs

The circuit boards are connected by 2 wires, a coat of black paint on the flashlight housing makes it look as a camera gadget. To connect the LED board to the power source, one LED has been replaced by the wire connections

Step 3: Light Housing

The mirror is folded upwards, and kept in place by a rectangular tube cut out of some scrap shiny tin sheet metal (used in electronics for shielding). A few drops of contact glue keep it in place.

The shiny metal also reflects possible stray light.

The LED circuit board from the flashlight is hot-glued to the back of the camera.

A small hole for the wires is drilled in back of the camera: Solder the connectionbetween the circuit boards after the hole is drilled!!!

Step 4: Update!!!

For now, I have completely bricked the camera!!!! (It looks so nice, I don't want to destroy this baby by unleashing the grinder on it, which makes me have to wait until some special tool comes my way, to open it)

However: I got another broken Practica in the 2nd hand store today!!!  Not so nice looking, but great for the instructable...  So expect a total overhaul of this instructable within a week or so, with a working model!

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    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have a Praktica sat right next to me! You have a typo, It should be GDR not DDR. :)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Their own stamps, money etc. always said DDR (Deutsche Democratische Republik). But true, I have heard GDR to indicate former East Germany. What does it stand for? Practikas are still very abundant in Holland 2nd hand market, most of them have the M42X1 screw in mount. Relatively easy to make an adapter, for telescopes, microscopes or other optical stuff. At least half of all 2nd hand store objective lenses have the Practica mount. (this particular model has a bayonet mount).


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    "GDR" = German Democratic Republic
    merely the English version of DDR.

    Batteries could fit in the former film compartment(probably) but how is the
    light fitted?

    I think one or two more pictures may be needed. :-(


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    The battery holder with 3 AAAs is only slightly too big to fit inside the film compartment! A custom battery holder (or dremeling away parts of the film compartment) could do the job. Which would involve another job drilling a conduit all the way through the camera body to install a nice looking switch (which I don't have) near the shutter button. That's why I go for the external flashlight body. These .99 E flashlights (they used to be E 1.49, available in Dutch 'ACTION' stores) are ideal power houses for almost any low voltage use! A sturdy, great looking aluminum housing, a waterproof switch, a 3X AAA battery holder, and a 9X white LED circuit board! As updated, I got stuck modding this camera, but found another broken Practica model today. It will take a few more days to change it into a cool flashlight!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have not seen a Praktica since the 1960s. Made in East Germany wasn't it?