Build a $4 Lens With Interchangeable Kaleidoscopic Filters for Any Digital Camera




About: I like to make things

in this instructable i show you how to build a really cool lens attachment for almost any digital camera.

with the advent of digital cameras, i blossomed (not like that chick in that sitcom, though). if i had had the money, i would've loved to get into developing my own film and slr cameras and what not, but alas. . . i did not. taking film to get developed at exorbitant rates didn't help. digital let me do it all without the expense or the darkroom. i'm sure many out there feel the same.

i still can't afford the cutting edge, so no digital slr. but, here's a novel way to make abstract lenses for almost any digital camera.

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Step 1: The Lens

i began by looking for some sort of lens to experiment with. i was hoping to find something like a kids science optics kit but came up short.

at michael's (a craft store) i stumbled upon some cheap plastic kaleidoscopes and a light bulb turned on above my head.

these things are $1.49 apiece, and there were different types of lenses. i'll show you the two options that i liked the best in this instructable.

Step 2: The Fit

we need something that will fit over the lens of a digital camera and connect to some of the pieces from the kaleidoscope. this will vary depending on the camera you have. i have an olympus and the lens slides out when activated.

i looked for something that would fit snugly around the lens. i came across a small cardboard tube of glow bracelets that was just larger than the circumference of my camera lens. this was a good find, because it had these black plastic caps on each end. these are easy to carve up and make a custom fit. check out the pics.

the bracelets were $1, and given the fact that the bracelets are still usable and you are only recycling the packaging, i'm not sure we should include that in the price. either way, it's cheap!

Step 3: The Parts

here is the setup. when you take apart the kaleidoscope you will find some fun parts.

the blue piece in the shot is the outer part of the kaleidoscope on the end that holds the prism lens.

the white piece is part of the interior that holds the lens.

the prism is obviously the prism.

the tube is part of the glow bracelet packaging.

the black ring is the modified ring seen above.

disclaimer: this is how i did it. just allow this to inspire you to find your own way! no single way works for everyone. . .

(i was a philosophy major)

Step 4: Make It Interchangeable

before gluing anything, i inserted a lens into the blue tube, shoved the white one in after it, and then started drilling. i drilled a hole through both pieces of plastic to accommodate a small screw. this allowed me to change the lenses for various effects.

i'm sure there is a better way to do this and welcome any ideas.

Step 5: Put It All Together

we've seen this pic before, but let's look at it again.

glue the cardboard tube to the white plastic tube. that's really about it. the rest just sort of snaps together.

the black plastic end cap slides into the cardboard tube. the lens goes into the blue tube, which then fits over the white tube. the screw goes in to hold it in place, and you're good to go.

check out the next step for a visual of the final product.

Step 6: Get Crazy

here is the finished product. it slips right over the lens of my point and shoot camera. it's incredibly light and therefore doesn't need threading or anything else to hold it on.

look closely at the pics and you'll see the two different lenses.

make one. send me some pics. go nuts!



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    16 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Na art, prima ! :-)

    i'm not really sure, margerine man. you would probably have to find a larger kaleidoscope with a bigger lens. after that, i would more than likely go to a pawn shop or thrift store and find an old slr lens i could modify on the cheap.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You put a macro lens behind it first, so the focus lengh is shorter, then attach the kaleidescope, and depending on the power of your macro lens, you can almost eliminate a black round border. You might end up with a blurry edge, but it might look cooler for that... Meh, I might try it.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    With cameras out there now that have really high megapixels you can simply take pics and crop in your photo editing software.  Just a thought, right?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I received my Teleidoscopes in the mail from the Internet, just like those pictured, and spent part of this weekend constructing two for my video camera. I used a Square one, and a Circular one. I did a quick instalation, disregarding appearance, using a toilet paper roll. The Teleidoscopes sized nicely to my lens, with just the edges of the barrel showing in the side screen, so I zoomed in some, and I get a full image from edge to edge. Check my example 25 sec video at

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction

    yoyo, i did this a wee while ago! check out my flickr:
    i ended up using velcro to attach the lenses and carried them round in a little mints tin. i like the barrel thing though. i just about buggered my camera trying to force the plastic ring onto the its lens! also i used old pieces of coloured plastic (from tic tac containers/ cellophane) over the flash. lomos are ncie but i ain't paying that much money for overpriced accessories...