Rescuing P&S camera lenses (EN)
Atualizado: 3 de set. de 2022
Today I'll finally talk a little more about my P&S camera lens conversions.
Inspired by works by MS Optics, Freeman (@watchmemake) among others, I've always found these "bodycap lenses" very interesting for their super compact profile and simplicity in use, which matches the way I like to photograph.
With some recent knowledge in CAD and access to a 3D printer in 2020 I was able to make my first pieces, one of them the famous Yashica T3, and since then I have made dozens of other models, rescue from compact cameras with fixed lenses, mainly Point & Shoot models, and can be use on rangefinders or even digital mirrorless.
IMPORTANT Of course, such a lens will not have the quality or all the functions of a "real lens" and I think the fairest way to scale expectations would be a body cap with extra functions, but there are great optics in super famous and hyped models like Yashica T, Contax, Ricoh GR, Mju and so on In addition to many other still unknown models. Pros:
Super compact and lightweight, usually called "bodycap lenses".
Re-use at least part of cameras that in most cases cannot be repaired.
Very affordable compared to conventional LTM/M39 lenses (especially in the case of wide angles).
Fun and unpretentious way to shoot.
For most cases there is no aperture control, so it is used wide open or in a pre-defined range.
Rangefinder coupling is possible but not always, so the focus is by zone with some marks.
It can be used only in Rangefinder LTM/M39 or Leica M cameras and digital Mirrorless with adapter.
Works best for 35mm or wider lenses.
It's still a "DIY" item, so it can have small variations and less than perfect details and finishing.
The process: It all starts with choosing models, and if it's one I don't know my reference is to search for images... The Lomography website and Flickr are great sources, what I analyze is character, sharpness and distortion/vignetting around the edges.
There are some rules:
The camera must be broken and beyond repair.
Scrap price, I don't usually pay more than 20USD for a câmera.
Lenses with glass elements (plastic ones are way inferior and usually not worth it).
These lenses usually have their optical elements contained in a single sealed block.
The design is thought to be universal and work with most models, requiring only the design of the middle core piece that fixes the lens block.
I choose LTM/M39 because it is simpler to produce and also because it increases compatibility with more camera models.
The focusing system is simple with a helical multi-entry thread, inspired by early Leica lens models such as Elmar and Summitar.
After the pieces are printed, it is necessary to make the focus adjustments and for that I use my digital Sony, first the infinity and then the close focus.
Until this moment all conversions were produced only in 3D printed PLA plastic, it works acceptably but does not compare to parts produced in metal.
For some time listening to suggestions from friends and customers, I've been simplifying the design for a more machining-friendly parts and I was finally able to find someone to produce some prototypes.
I would love to produce all the parts in brass but due to the high cost of the raw material I am also considering aluminum, which in addition to the lower cost, is much lighter and can even be used in combination with brass to balance. In order for the metal parts to be produced I would need to make a pre-order system of at least 10 units (approximate pricing below) to fund in addition to the material and machining, also some tools.
They are produced on the lathe in a completely manual manner and arrive to me like this... So in order to finish, they still require a few hours of work to adjust and calibrate each one.
For now I don't have any ready-to-sale lenses, but I consider offering the conversion service for a small commission, as long as the interested party is willing to provide the donor camera and pay the shipping costs, take in mind I'm located in São Paulo, Brazil.
To see sample images taken with some of those lenses please visit the previous post (PTBR). Link below.
Check this video (active English subtitles)
The first batch of metal adapters was successfully produced between April and May 2022.
Financed by a pre-order scheme and shipped to several countries.
In this process I've learned a lot that will shape how future batches will be handled.
One of them is that due to current inflation it is impossible to have pre-set price before closing a batch.
Very important! I'll no longer offer rangefinder coupling for M39/LTM version. The reason for that is impossibility to calibrate for multiple bodies, the thread will end in an slightly different place and with this "ramp" approach the RF it I'll be off.
(Check how the position on the screw on top of the lens is in different camera M39/LTM bodies)
On Leica M this can be done more reliable, but I also need to point that it will be from 1m/3ft to infinity, if the lens can focus closer the RF will not match. this is specially important for 28mm or wider since those lens have a very short throw.
I'm also adding a new option for a very simple one piece model (brass only) that is "Focus Free". This one would work better with 28mm or wider stopped down to f5.6 or f8.
That being said check below some conditions and approximate prices...
Each batch needs to have from 8-12 units to get a more realistic cost per piece.
To confirm your pre-order it will be required an up front payment of at least 60% of the total.
There will be PayPal taxes of about 7% on top of the total cost.
RODSGEAR is not formal company, and what I'm offering is the conversion as a service.
The whole process should take up to 3 months and not include shipping.
Conversion service estimate cost RAW (SEP/2022)
Regular M39/LTM model with variable focus
PLA 3D Printed = R$299 / US$65 Aluminum = R$499 / US$99 Brass = R$550 / US$119
"Focus Free" Brass = R$300 / US$69
These prices do not include optics that must be provided by the interested party or choose between some eventually available, Optional and finishing listed below.
Leica M adapter = + R$100 / US$20
Black Cerakote (Ceramic coating) = + R$100 / US$25 View Finder 3D (when the model is compatible) + R$60 / US$15
International shipping starts around 36 to 40 USD for economy and usually takes from 3 to 5 weeks to arrive.
You can see more and get in touch directly with me on Instagram @rodsgear or send me a email email@example.com