YouTuber breathes new life into a broken film camera with a Raspberry Pi

converting an analog camera to digital
(Image credit: Tech by Malcolm-Jay)

A photographer and YouTuber has been cooking up a storm, using an old film camera and a Raspberry Pi Zero 2W as the main ingredients. 

In his debut YouTube video, embedded below, @techbymalcolmJ shares how he was able to bring a camera from the mid-Sixties into the 21st Century. 

• Fancy turning one of the best film cameras into a Pi-powered digital camera?

Ask me what a Raspberry Pi is and I’d struggle to explain it well, but ask me what it can do and you might be surprised at the results. Unfortunately by now, you should've realized we're not talking about a delicious, flaky pastry dessert with a hot, sweet filling but rather a mini computer that can be used to learn programming, build a gaming machine, replace your desktop PC or even turn into a camera. 

We’ve seen the Peica (Polaroid-esque camera with a Leica M mount), the RUHAcam (anothe 3D-printed camera), ArduCam's tiny 16MP camera for just $25, and just this year Raspberry Pi launched a new camera module with a 12MP sensor, autofocus and more.

Using an old Yashica Electro 35mm camera that had stopped working, a Raspberry Pi Zero 2W and a Raspberry Pi HQ camera, Malcolm really did teach an old dog new tricks converting it from analog to digital.

The original camera was completely gutted and repacked with a digital sensor, an LCD touchscreen on the back, a USB port that is used to store photos, a shutter button, a 3D-printed grip, and is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion 3.7V battery.

The camera is set up to work in aperture priority, since it's manual focus, and Malcolm has a trio of lenses he can use, including vintage C-mount 8mm f/1.3 and 25mm f/1.8 lenses with a wide-angle converter, and a 6.5mm f/1.4 D-mount lens with a C-mount adapter (C-mount being common to 16mm movie cameras, and D-mount to 8mm movie cameras). 

Malcolm took inspiration from The Verge’s Becca Farsace, who built the 'Becca Cam' in 2020 during the midst of the pandemic. Embarking on the project while in isolation due to COVID, Malcolm just so happened to have all the components he needed in his house – so decided to keep himself entertained by making a converted digital camera.

He is yet to post a step-by-step tutorial, although he does hint that one is on the way should you want to have a go yourself. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.