Have you ever modified a camera to make it work better for you?
I’m not talking about cosmetic changes like changing the leatherette (although I love what Peggy does with these), but functional changes. I know one of the frequent improvements is to add a grip. But these are finely-crafted and removable, whereas I’m talking about hacking the actual camera.
I’ve basically made two sorts of changes: for handling and for protection. You have to not care about resale value though. Speaking of which, who are these people who can sell a pristine old camera on eBay? How does anyone manage to use a thing for years and leave no visible marks of use or wear?
Back to the plot – for protection I mainly use Sugru. It’s perfect for creating bump corners – I’ve wrapped a small waterproof camera in it to protect the corners and the lens from being dropped or put down badly.
This is ideal, as I most often use this camera with cold wet hands on an open boat. The camera lives in an open plastic tool tray so needs all the protection it can get.
Before finding Sugru I used two-part epoxy putty to make things like a replacement for the plastic piece that fell off the end of a wind-on lever.
Although I no longer have it so can’t share pictures, I did make a remote release adapter for an autowinder. This was a bit of brass sheet that I bent and maimed until it fitted around the trigger button on the autowinder. I drilled a small hole and used a cable release to form a thread in the soft brass. This let me fit a long air release that ran inside my overalls and put the bulb in my hand. The camera was mounted on a bracket on the side of a crash helmet. The result was Heath Robinson’s version of a helmet-mounted camera. And yes, it worked.
Next to Sugru the other great find came from an article by 35hunter, and this is to use the sticky-backed grip tape that is used on skateboards.
This stuff is very good and could even be reversible, if you wanted to change the grip or sell the camera. I added a strip and a patch of tape to a Canon compact to provide grip for my fingers and thumb.
The tape has just enough ‘tooth’ to be grippy without being uncomfortable.
So since the grip tape came as a sheet large enough to cover a skateboard deck, I couldn’t just leave it at that. The obvious next step was the underwater housings for my diving cameras. Like the little Fuji compact, I’m usually handling these in water and wearing gloves. While the camera is usually on a tether, it’s useful not to let go of it in the first place.
What’s next in my mad plan is to replace the whole leatherette on a camera with grip tape. That’s a possible for the future though – I’ll wait to see which one starts peeling first.
So ok, not major modifications but practical, and they can be done without needing a 3d printer or workshop.