If you have an old analog camera that you don’t mind modifying, you can turn it into a digital camera for less than $50. YouTuber befinitiv converted an old Cosina Hi-Lite film camera into a digital camera using a 3D printed film cartridge equipped with a Raspberry Pi Zero camera module (with the lens removed since befinitiv used a lens attached to the Cosina).
Befinitiv writes that the converted camera not only captures digital images, it can also record video and even live stream over Wi-Fi. The camera can broadcast to a phone or computer.
However, there are some caveats. The ‘digital’ Cosina doesn’t have the same controls as the original analog Cosina. For example, the shutter release on the camera doesn’t act as the shutter for the Raspberry Pi, so the shutter must remain open to capture images. Other controls on the camera aren’t wired to serve any role, either, although you can adjust the lens for aperture and focus.
Another consideration is that the Raspberry Pi’s camera module is only 1/4.0″-type (4.59mm diagonal) meaning that you get a 9.4x crop factor, turning a 50mm lens from a standard prime lens into a super telephoto; with no stabilization, it’s worth pointing out.
As DIY Photography points out, there aren’t many required pieces for the project. In addition to an old camera, you only need five main parts. The build includes a Raspberry Pi 0W, a camera module, a small lithium-ion battery and a step-up converter. And of course, you also need the custom 3D-printed film cartridge, which fits into the camera and puts the mounted camera module behind the lens.
Even with its limitations, like the small image sensor, it’s quite something to see a decades-old Cosina film camera live streaming video to a laptop over Wi-Fi. To see more from befinitiv, visit his YouTube channel.