How to convert film SLR camera into a lamp…

September 8, 2011 14 Comments by Kirsty

This is a how to (of sorts) for the camera lamp I made last week.

The response to the camera lamp has absolutely overwhelmed me. The post has been picked up by a number of makery, photography, DIYery sites & while I’ve been sleeping I’ve been getting heaps & heaps of lovely emails from all around the place.

The enthusiasm from other people was infectious & I spent a couple of hours with the guys at Calmatronics who were also enthusiastic & fabulously helpful too. They offered a couple of suggestions as to how it could be done & I purchased parts from them to have the light wired professionally.


Electicity = potential danger (& in Australia you’re not allowed to do any of your own electrical)


This how to shows how I prepared the camera body for the professional wiring of the lamp. It outlines the options you have for powering the lamp and the parts you’d need to provide to your electrician.

If you live elsewhere & the safety standards differ to Australian regulations then Google is your friend.

Finally, thanks so much for keeping me wanting to make stuff, try harder & do more. It’s most excellent. x

Have I helped you out?
You could buy me a coffee if you like…



  1. Grant Gibson
    4 years ago

    Great write up, thanks. Inspired by your original post I’m planning to create my own lamp using a super-bright CREE LED and (hopefully) retain the lens elements so that I’ll be able to adjust focus and aperture (spread and brightness respectively).

    No idea if it’ll work, but I’ve bought a cheap donor SLR from eBay and my LED is on the way too. Will update if/when I get it working!



    • Kirsty
      4 years ago

      Grant – I’m super excited to hear how you get on with this…great stuff.


    • David Boring
      4 years ago

      This is the approach I’ve been working on. I bought a headlamp (meritline — $8.99) with a 1W Cree LED and driver in it. I went with a headlamp (vs. flashlight) because of the momentary contact on/off switch, which I’ve wired (via the lens/body contacts) to the shutter release button. The headlamp uses AAA batteries, but I’m using AA for a longer run life.

      After completely gutting a Nikon N70 body (eBay, $10 shipped,) I realized that by packing the batteries tightly, I could fit everything into the lens itself! (I got a broken Nikon 28-85mm for free!) Because of this, I decided to wire the macro button on the lens as a second on/off switch. Simply pop the lens off, and the lens is a flashlight! I’m on a boat!

      For the first pass, I’ve made my own 3-cell AA battery pack, but after much hunting, I found a source for a AA battery holder that packs 3 AA’s into the space of a single D battery:

      Because I’m totally broke, last night I made my own heat sink out of a stack of copper pennies (must be pre-1982!) that I silver-soldered together. I filed and lapped the bottom penny for good contact. (Power LEDs can run hot, requiring some way to dissipate the heat.)

      I’m not quite done yet, but I’m taking photos of everything as I go. I’ll post my build details when complete.

      For my next light, I plan on using 18650 batteries and a super-bright 3W LED. is a cheap place for LEDs, drivers, and completed lights to cannibalize.

      I’ve gotten some great ideas and info at


  2. mark_the_mole
    4 years ago

    A great post, I’ll give it a go in the coming months!


    • Kirsty
      4 years ago

      Wonderful Mark.


  3. Tech Support
    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your awesome creative H.A.C.

    Looking forward to seeing what others do with their projects


  4. Kate
    4 years ago

    Good for you Kirsty!
    I love the way you come up with these brilliant concepts and then so generously share your knowledge. You are super ace and I’m thrilled people are making a fuss over you. x


  5. Kate
    4 years ago

    I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of a bit of a ‘hurrah’.



  6. Alisa
    4 years ago

    You are a very generous inventor indeed! Have a great weekend. x


  7. Claire
    4 years ago

    What a sensational idea, love it!


  8. john
    4 years ago

    Hi Kirsty!

    Absolutely love your work! I’m currently working on converting a Konica c35 EF compact camera to a lamp and I have a question for you.

    Why do you remove the lenses?

    The reason I’m asking is since my camera is a compact camera it’s a bit tricky to get to the lenses of it. I’m also planning of using the actual trigger of the camera to start the LED and I’m afraid I cant put the mechanics together again if I have to remove it all to get to the lens.



    4 years ago

    Its just fantastic


2 Trackbacks

  1. By Camera - light - action... | kootoyoo on September 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    […] is a how to (of sorts) available here. Share this […]

  2. […] but this article on converting an old 35mm film camera into a lamp might have a few nuggets… How to convert film SLR camera into a lamp… | kootoyoo "It's about time people started taking photography seriously, and treating it as a […]

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