Make: Projects

Fifty-Cent Macro Lens

Modify a cheap digital video camera (like a Kodak Zx1) so it can take close-up shots for your video podcasting.

  • By
  • Time Required: 40 to 60 seconds
  • Difficulty: Easy
Fifty-Cent Macro Lens

I wanted to contribute video in Make: Projects, but it turned out that none of the cameras I had in the house were of sufficient quality to do the job.

The camera I had hoped to use was a Kodak Zx1, which I picked up for $45. It shoots 720p HD, which is perfect for web demo videos.

The problem was that the minimum focal range of the camera was 100cm — a full meter! Certainly not close enough to show the simple circuits I was trying to display.

So – I was shopping for a better camera when my wife said “Why don’t you do this?” And here are the results.



Step #1:

Fifty-Cent Macro LensFifty-Cent Macro LensFifty-Cent Macro Lens
  • Go to the dollar store and buy some reading glasses. I tried diopters of 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, and 2.0. The 2.0 worked best for my camera.
  • Pop a lens out of the glasses.
  • Tape it to the camera.
  • Enjoy making close-up video!

Step #2:

Fifty-Cent Macro Lens

Not really a step, but this is the video quality before modification (camera is 18 inches from subject).

Step #3:

Fifty-Cent Macro Lens

Here's the video quality after modification.