Vintage Camera Lamp




I have a thing for lamps. Not normal lamps though, unique lamps. Lamps that inspire conversation, lamps that make you think, or just lamps that make you want to stop and look. After seeing a photo of an old camera, taken in just the right light to make it look like it was glowing, I decided it would be a great lamp. After googling it, and seeing that I was not exactly the first person to come up with the idea, I was still excited to see that nobody had made exactly what I had envisioned either. I got to work scouring ebay for a camera that I thought had just the right amount of business. Exposed mechanical parts, levers, and springs were mandatory. I settled on a Polaroid Land Camera 95. I paid about $40 for it. They are available for much cheaper if you look. (I just missed one selling for $1.25.) But I wanted one that included the original flash and that was in excellent condition. After the camera arrived, my girlfriend and I began work transforming it into a lamp. Here is how we did it.

*UPDATE: I made a tripod to match the old look of the camera. Take a look! Vintage Style Garden Stake Tripod

Step 1: Materials

Surprisingly there aren't many required materials.

1. Camera, preferably with the original flash

2. A light bulb of your choosing. I went with a round vintage incandescent.

3. Lamp socket, cord, and plug

4. Ruler or other measuring device.

5. Dremel tool

6. Glue or epoxy (maybe)

Step 2: Measure and Mark

As soon as I got a good chance to look over my camera flash, I realized the hole for the bulb was not in the center. While this was good for a camera, it was not good for my lamp. Since I was using a round bulb, I needed the hole to be perfectly centered. After quite a bit of careful measuring, I marked out my circle and got ready to dremel.

Step 3: Cut! Carefully!

Since it was my plan to screw the bulb in and have it hold the shade in place, I had very little tolerance for the size of my hole. I cut carefully to make sure I was never going to make the hole too big and end up with a floppy shade.

Step 4: Test Fit.

During the cutting of the hole I periodically test fit my bulb. All that was needed to attach it was to screw the lamp socket onto the bulb with the lamp shade in between the two. Here is the first successful fit, luckily it was a perfect fit. It looked nice and even to me. If you think it looks crooked please don't tell me or it will bother me forever.

Step 5: Removing the Plastic Cover

The flash originally comes with a flip-open plastic cover attached to a shiny metal flap. I wanted to keep the metal intact but remove the plastic. Since the plastic was attached with rivets, the back of each rivet was carefully ground down so the plastic would slip right off. I probably won't use the plastic again but it still didn't feel right to hack it off, and I didn't want to risk damaging the decorative metal. Pulling the plastic off the rivets caused them to shoot across the room. Avoid that part if possible. After I found the rivets, I glued them back in place so they couldn't escape anymore.

Step 6: Making the Socket Fit.

Since I am completely replacing bulb types, and want to use the original hardware, I had the problem of not being able to screw the shade back on because the lamp socket didn't fit. We measured, marked, and surgically hacked off some plastic to give the socket enough clearance.

Step 7: Reassemble Everything

Now that everything had the space it needed, the pieces were all put back together. I was pretty happy with the fit.

Step 8: FIRE IT UP!

I put the camera on my tripod. Luckily it had the right size fitting already in place. Now it was ready!!! This was the most exciting part by far. It looks AMAZING! The pictures really don't do it justice, I found it really difficult to photograph an open bulb. I ended up buying a plug-in dimmer switch to be able to get the photos just right. I definitely want to put it on a more vintage looking tripod. Mine is a little too modern to pull off the look completely. But I have a few ideas to try my own cheaply. *UPDATE: It's finished! Vintage Style Garden Stake Tripod

Thanks for reading, vote for me in the Vintage Contest and feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!!

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    12 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Great job! This is the type of project I vote for when I see em'.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Your original tripod is probably a better match than you think. This camera is much newer than most bellows type cameras. I'm not an expert but I'm old which helps. ;-) I'd guess this is probably late 1950s or early 60s. Your tripod looks to be of a similar vintage to me. Either way, this is a nice job and a great conversion.


    Thanks! Here is the exact bulb. Stay tuned I'm hoping to have a hand-tooled custom tripod to match before the end of this contest!|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&facetInfo=


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you! They had a great selection at my local Lowes.

    Really great idea - your 'ible kicked my brain onto gear this morning. Thank you!

    Oh this is fabulous! And it's totally straight, don't listen if someone tells you differently :P


    4 years ago

    This is wonderful. I want one, now. I'll have to start picking up old cameras. Thank you for a good idea and a great job on your instructable.