The camera I'm using right now is merely the latest model... I've built about ten different versions over the past few years. Here are a few examples of scanner cameras I've built, or helped others to build.
It is possible to make a primitive scanner camera out of almost anything - an aspect of the project that proves very useful for teaching purposes. With a roll of gaffer tape, some empty cardboard tubes, and cheap plastic lenses from the pound store, I was able to teach a group of photography students from the University of Brighton the basics of scanner photography for next to no cost. While these 'super-simple' scanner cameras had some severe limitations (a small viewing area, fixed focus, poor depth of field, and the limitations caused by the use of an unmodified scanner), they proved to be both valuable tools for explaining and exploring the principles of scanner photography, and also usable and interesting cameras in their own right.
A construction diagram for a primitive scanner camera. Sorry about the JPEG artifacts...
An image taken using one of these primitive scanner cameras. These crude scanner images have a certain charm that comes from their primitive construction, and they show the fundamental principles of scanner distortion. This photograph was taken by Reanna Walker, a student of mine from the University of Brighton, as part of a class project.
Things from the thrift store...
As a way of improving on the results of my first primitive scanner camera frames, the redesign of existing optical devices and simple cameras proved to be extremely valuable. While large format camera frames are traditionally prohibitively expensive for the amateur photographer, there are a number of alternative sources that can provide high-quality results. The redesign and modification of devices such as magic lanterns, overhead projectors, and box model cameras of the 20's and 30's worked quite well. These hybrid digital cameras provided fairly high quality results, and were much more versatile and easy to use than the more primitive variants.
This is part of an old magic lantern, purchased at a secondhand shop, that was eventually converted into a working scanner camera.
The magic lantern scanner camera, after the digital conversion.
These image was taken using the converted magic lantern.
Box cameras, such as these, can be found at almost any secondhand shop, and can be used with almost no modification as scanner camera bodies.
This image was taken using modified a box brownie camera and a flatbed scanner.