I think the new design is simple and I dare say quite beautiful.
Adrian Hanft is a graphic designer and founder of the very interesting Found Photography Blog. Besides publishing his pictures he has also made several articles on the cameras he uses, among these a peculiar camera of his own invention: the lego pinhole camera.
A pinhole camera is a kind of camera which follows the same principle as the camera obscura (it is, actually, a small camera obscura). You can read a thorough explanation on both concepts in this and this Wikipedia articles; in brief, a pinhole camera is a camera with no lens, the light crossing instead through a very small hole in the body of the device. This simplicity has made pinhole cameras very popular among hobbyists, and you can easily find instructions and blueprints in case you want to try building one yourself. My personal favourite is the Dirkon camera; the site is also features a pinhole designer, a program that helps making the calculations regarding pinhole diameter and exposure time. As long as these calculations are correct, few other restrictions apply. Pinhole cameras can be made out of paper (like the Dirkon), wood, plastic, soup cans… or Lego.
Hanft’s camera is a pinhole camera made out of Lego. This is his latest design, and benefits from his previous experiences both with pinhole photography and Lego cameras (in medium and small formats). The new model improves on the medium size camera, aiming both at appearance and functionality. Regarding its aspect, the new camera features a sleek and clean black and white design with a touch of red in the shutter. Regarding functionality, the shutter mechanism itself has been completely redesigned, and while it used to be a kind of door it is now a strap that you lift to uncover the hole and expose the film. The previous model also featured a kind of “frame counter” which has been removed, and the device has been thoroughly revised so as to get rid of any possible light leaks.
And so, how well does this new camera perform? Adrian has posted a gallery of pictures taken with it. Of course it takes a good photographer as much as a good camera to take good pictures, but the results are frankly nice. Congratulations! The instructions for the camera (not the latest, but the former model), are also available, though in Bricksmith, which only runs on Mac. Unfortunately, Adrian has had problems to get Lego´s Digital Designer (which anyway looks promising) to work properly.
All in all, Hanft’s Lego pinhole camera is elegant, takes good pictures and has a high coolness factor. Even more, it has been a source of inspiration for other people: see for instance this prototype of automated Lego pinhole camera, using Mindstorms with Technic motors in the mechanism. Way to go! 🙂