Introduction: Raspberry Pi Photo Booth With Automatic Upload

Turning an old analog camera to a digital one is easy peasy nowadays with the Raspberry Pi and it's camera module. Actually it's just a case modding for the Pi, but a really cool one. And with the power of the pi comes great possibilities: automatic photo editing and upload to social networks. So an automatic instant Instagram camera for your next Party? Exactly!

Before the how-to a link to the result of the first real mission of the one build in this instructable.

All in all you will need roughly (total 170 - 200 Euro):

  • Raspberry Pi (+ SD-Card & cooling)
  • Camera module
  • old Camera (e.g. Agfa Synchrobox)
  • Dome Push Button
  • a simple box for the button
  • wires
  • connectors / jacks
  • LEDs (e.g. 10 ultra white like Nichia NSDW570GS-K1)
  • resistors
  • transistors
  • diode
  • circuit board
  • power supply (+ step down converter)
  • salad bowl
  • clothespins
  • diffusor foil
  • reflector


  • soldering iron
  • hot glue gun
  • jigsaw
  • hacksaw
  • file
  • knife/scissors

Details about what you need exactly are in the specific steps.

Step 1: Push the Button

Easy Peasy on the beginning and only three things needed:

  • Dome Push Button
  • wire
  • some kind of box where you can hide the switch of the button
  • (opt) connector for the cable


  • soldering iron
  • knife or scissors

I used a button with an build-in LED and since I only wanted to use a cable with 2 cores I needed a little extra wire. I would recommend to use three cores due to the fact that the connection to the Pi gets way more easier and you are more flexible.

For the work you can guess it yourself: two holes in the box (one for the cable and the other for the button), solder the cable on the button and be ready for step 2.

Step 2: Flash Everything

Actually this is only a part of the lighting for the photobooth - there will be also two LEDs hidden in the Agfa Box. So basicly this step could be optional, if you are going to always shoot in daylight. But you won't. And don't rely on the internal lights, they will be way to weak or you have to deal with heat/cooling and blinded faces.

So you need:


  • connector
  • salad bowl (e.g. 20cm - got that one from IKEA [made it in under 15 minutes through the whole store just for that])
  • small bowl (e.g. 5cm - that's tricky, apparently IKEA doesn't sell those anymore)


  • soldering iron
  • (opt) hacksaw
  • (opt) file
  • (opt) hot glue gun
  • (opt) jigsaw

Again it's more or less: solder everything together. You can do it! Since I used 9V to drive the build I placed two LEDs with one resistor in a row. Making 4 rows in parallel.

Why the salad bowl? Because it is healthy or at least it lets the people appear healthier due to better light. Also you don't get dazzled faces. Simply let the LEDs face into the larger bowl getting some kind of beauty dish which means softer light.

To mount both bowls together you can use wire. Tipp: use a hacksaw and a file to cut little cracks in the bowls to hold the wires. Also soldering and clueing won't work. Don't waste time like me...

Step 3: Preparing the Camera and Building the Front

You need roughly (or better I used roughly):

  • an old camera (e.g. a box-camera since they are easy to get and easy to work with - tipp: 6x9 cameras are perfect for the Raspberry)
  • Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • 2 LEDs (again the Nichia)
  • resistor (56 Ohm)
  • reflectors for the LEDs (18mm had fit perfectly)
  • a professional mounting for the camera module (or two clothespins)
  • wires
  • diffuser foil (really optional)
  • some extra LEDs and resistors for the countdown

I guess you get what is optional and what is needed for your project on your own.


Get rid of everything unneeded inside the camera - shutter, pressure plate, that thing which holds the film, mirrors. Also now it's a good time to read the next step where it comes to drilling holes in the back plate of the camera. This way the work on the body will be finished before you start with the inner parts.

The actual work:

On the front plate of the camera you glue and solder everything together. I guess pictures are better then words. The lenses of the former viewfinder are covered with the diffuser foil on which you place the reflectors for the LEDs. You place the LEDs in those of cause. Like for the flash both LEDs are getting one resistor in a row dividing the 9V.

Now to the camera module. You see the improvised fix for that. Maybe you can get something better, but it works...

The orange and green LEDs around the glas can be used for the countdown if there is no monitor attached to the camera. Actually one LED would be enough but I use two because I wanted to have different blinking patterns which will be in sync when the picture is taken - a little experiment on how such a countdown could be improved.

Step 4: Putting the Functionality in It

You need roughly (or better I used roughly):

  • Raspberry Pi (tipp: version 3 for special awesomeness)
  • power supply 9V 3.5A
  • step-down converter (UBEC DC/DC Step-Down (Buck) Converter - 5V @ 3A)
  • power jacks (depending on your power supply and the ones for the button and the flash)
  • wires
  • circuit board
  • transistor (e.g. 3 2n2222a)
  • diode
  • capacitor

I guess you get what is optional and what is needed for your project on your own.


Drill holes if you need. Depending on your choice whether you use connectors for the cables and/or the Pi should be accessible.

The work:

Put in the connectors if you are using ones. Also you can already solder cables onto them.

Lucky you if you have access to a 3D-printer. All the others: wood and hot glue. And for what? For building a mount for the Raspberry Pi. Tipp: if you use connector jacks: don't let your super cool Raspberry mounting invade the private space of your jackies. It's painful to remove parts of it, while it is already inside the camera.

To the circuit board and beyond. I highly hope you can get that also on your own. If there is enough interest I will do a diagram. Two things: the diode is used to be able to switch the lights in the camera on the whole time while they can also be used for the flash. Secondly the capacitor was used for the button (shouldn't be needed but it seemed to improve the detection). Also one of the transistors is needed for the button because of the LED inside of it. And since we power the lights with 9V the step down converter is needed to regulate the power for the Raspberry.

Step 5: The Software

Think on all the possibilities. You can simply save the images to disk or upload them directly to your website, facebook or whatever.

To write the image to disk you only need some lines of python. And here are the two APIs needed for this:

Also you can use this github gist.

For the flash you will need to configure the Raspberry firmware as described here. Sadly you will need some further googling for the RPi 3 since the device trees offered there aren't fresh enough.

The real cool photobooth will upload the images directly somewhere and is configurable via a smartphone app. The software for that is on the go but will need some time. If you want to help, contact me!

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