Inside the Lego Camera

Still crazy after all these years

Adrian Hanft
3 min readMar 4, 2017


3 versions of the Lego camera (35mm panorama, medium format, and 35mm) along with a framed photo taken with the 35mm camera

My Lego camera went viral 16 years ago when I posted some low-quality photos in a blog post showing how the medium format pinhole camera worked. If I had known how much attention my weekend project would generate (thanks to BoingBoing, Engadget, Digg, Metafilter, Make and others) I would have taken more time with my original post and the 35mm version follow-up.

I still get questions about my cameras and occasional requests for better photos that can be included in books like Cult of Lego. Here is one more look inside the Lego camera along with diagrams pointing out parts of the camera that might trip you up if you try to build your own. If you decide to tackle this project, please send me photos of your results. It has been a great pleasure over the years to see how people have put there own twist on my camera design.

Some of the variations of the Lego camera created by fans

35mm Lego Camera

How it works:

Take the camera’s back off, load the film, then close it back up. Lift the shutter to expose the film for a couple seconds. Crank the knob one or two turns to advance the film. When you have exposed the whole roll of film, open the camera in a dark room or closet. Push the film back in the canister and send it off to get developed.

A. Light-proof tape to block stray light from exposing the film

B. Film counter (simply move the piece to keep track of what frame you are on)

C. 35mm film

D. Manual shutter (just lift this lever for a second or two to uncover the pinhole and expose the film)

E. This gear prevents the film from unwinding and makes sure the film advance knob only turns in one direction

F. The pinhole (a tiny hole poked through a thin piece of aluminum)

G. Exposed film storage

Medium Format Lego Camera



Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia