Making a DIY Digital camera Flash by Reusing a Disposable Digital camera’s


Just lately I purchased a movie digital camera from the Seventies, the Canon A-1. Contemplating that the digital camera is nearly 3 times older than me, it was no shock that there are a couple of points with it.

The primary digital camera I bought jammed earlier than I even loaded in my first roll, and the alternative digital camera had a battery drainage challenge (which took an virtually full disassembly to repair).

However anyway, that isn’t the purpose of this text. Electrical issues apart, my essential challenge with this digital camera is its lack of a flash. Unbeknownst to me once I purchased this digital camera, movie cameras can’t actually function and not using a ridiculous quantity of sunshine (at the least by trendy digital camera requirements). Even in a fairly lit room, the digital camera struggles to take photographs with out the assistance of a tripod. This led to me making an attempt some artistic options, with restricted success.

Attempting to take a photograph in a dimly lit McDonald’s. The setup.
The end result.

I attempted to discover a digital camera flash on-line, however all of them had been big — like virtually greater than the precise digital camera.

Why doesn’t anybody make a small digital camera flash?

I didn’t precisely wish to present as much as events wanting just like the paparazzi, so I made a decision to make my very own small flash module.

Making the Flash

The digital camera flash I constructed makes use of the flash circuit from an affordable Fuji QuickSnap disposable digital camera which I bought for under about $7.

A Fuji QuickSnap disposable digital camera with a built-in flash.

Make sure that to discharge the capacitor earlier than dealing with the circuit! It’s charged as much as 300V, so you actually don’t need it to the touch it whereas it’s nonetheless charged.

Flash PCB from disposable digital camera. Don’t neglect to discharge the capacitor!

There are two switches within the circuit: one to cost the cap and one to set off the flash. For the charging change, I merely connected a toggle change as much as it.

The set off change was a bit extra sophisticated, nonetheless. It needs to be wired as much as the digital camera’s hotshoe in order that the flash will set off precisely when the picture is taken. Nonetheless, wiring the set off on to the hotshoe would trigger a few hundred volts to move by way of the digital camera, frying it.

Be aware: Some older cameras can be superb with this voltage as a result of they’ve bodily set off contacts, however a more moderen digital camera would positively get broken.

I as an alternative designed and ordered a PCB based mostly on this schematic (the webpage has a extremely good clarification of how the circuit works). You could find the PCB and 3D recordsdata on my GitHub. This circuit takes within the ~300V set off voltage and turns it right into a 5V for the digital camera’s hotshoe.

I then modeled up an enclosure for the circuits, together with a hotshoe with contacts. The contacts used within the 3D-printed hotshoe are taken from the copper contacts on the disposable digital camera’s PCB. And that’s it! I now have a small digital camera flash.

Contained in the flash. Please ignore that I soldered on to a battery.
The ultimate product. Be aware the charging toggle change on the left.

Find out how to Use the Flash

You’ll have observed that there aren’t any settings on the flash in any respect. The massive cumbersome flashes can help you choose the space of your topic and let you know what aperture to make use of, however my flash has nothing like that in any respect.

I merely simply use the disposable digital camera’s mounted settings of f/10 @ 400 ISO (alter aperture relying in your movie’s ISO). You also needs to maintain the topic inside ~3m/10ft. This provides the flash a theoretical information variety of 50, however who is aware of how correct that’s contemplating it’s an affordable disposable digital camera.


I ended up assembly all of my preliminary targets for this venture. I now have a “discreet” flash for my movie digital camera that works completely for my functions. The hotshoe contacts are slightly bit finicky, so I’d purchase a PC sync twine so I can use the PC socket in my digital camera which could have a way more dependable connection.

Concerning the creator: Joshua Fowl is a photographer and pc science undergraduate pupil on the College of Cambridge. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. You could find extra of Fowl’s work on his web site. This text was additionally revealed right here.


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