Recently one of my favorite sites, Woot.com had a sale on 3MP point and shoot cameras for kids. At around $10 a piece, I figured what the hell. I picked up 3 figgering they would get lost, or broken, but they would be good fun for my 3 year 0ld daughter who loves taking pictures with Daddy’s camera (and Daddy hyperventilates every time she touches his $700 DSLR). In all honesty, she actually takes pretty good pictures. That aside, I figured her having her own camera would be nice.
Upon receipt I was surprised to find a decently solid little camera with a not too bad screen. I popped in some batteries and snapped almost twenty pictures on the internal memory. I plugged it into my PC and was VERY surprised to find some decent pictures peeking back at me. I gave the camera the nod, and handed it over to my kid. But the wheels of geekyness where already whirring around in my head.
First thing I did was NOT let her know I had purchased the other two. If you have ever dealt with a 3 year old and possessiveness, you know what I mean. My first use for the 2 spare cameras was simple. I put them each in a zip lock bag with a pair of AA batteries and tossed them in the glove box of my 2 cars. Why? Well, in case of a wreck I have access to a 3MP camera with a flash and fresh batteries that can take about 20 pictures. Also useful for pictures of tornadoes, celebrities and/or Godzilla.
So is that it? Noooo. Woot! had to go and put the same cameras up on a 2 for Tuesday, so I ended up with 6 more for the same price. NOW it is time to tinker.
First let’s take a look at the camera. I chose the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ theme since it was…well, not Hannah Montanna or Mickey.
Overall a nice solid little camera, and like I said before, the picture quality is decent. So now, like any geek worth his salt, I had to take it apart.
The case was a real booger to get apart, so I enlisted the help of my daughters craft sticks.
Once the case was separated there was all kinds of things and stuff inside.
The bit in the middle is the lens. That is what we are going to be manipulating.
With the aid of a razor blade, I carefully cut away the epoxy securing the lens into position.
Once the epoxy is cut free, unscrew the lens a bit and poof!, it’s free!
Oooh! Camera sensor stuff…
Clean up the rest of the epoxy around the threads and proceed on to the next step.
Now to screw the lens in. See, this lens sets the focal distance of the camera. Usually they are set to about 1.5ft ~ infinity. But, if you screw the lens back on juuust barely, you have now effectively changed the focal distance to about 1 -2 inches. Try it out, flip the camera on and hold it up close to something. Just keep your fingers off those capacitor contacts! OUCH!
A little dab of Super Glue on the threads make sure everything stays where you put it.
Now that the lens is back in you may be tempted to put the case back on the camera. But you can’t. Because now the lens sticks out too far and the case does not close. We need to modify!
The following pictures illustrate how I poked out the clear lens then the surrounding black plastic. You can totally do this all at once, but I was trying to leave as much material as I could. Both pieces had to go.
All done. Now just test fit the case back on and you’re done for now.
Nice and clean.
Now you can run around with your new toy snapping pictures of really tiny things, but you’re soon going to run into a few problems.
- You can’t hold still. No, I don’t mean you have some kind of palsy, I mean that it is very hard to hold this camera still enough to snap a good photo. Tripod needed! I recommend one of those flexy leg tripods. Also a remote trigger doesn’t sound too bad… hrm.
- There is never enough light. Unless you go outside and take pictures of flowers in the midday sun, everything is going to be too dark. Mostly because all the light is going to be blocked by the camera body since you are hovering over it at a distance of an inch or two.
Check out my follow-up to this article where I address those issues.