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Making a Simple Kaleidoscope Adapter

Acancarter

I'm retired and living in Northamptonshire, so plenty of time for photography.
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Making a Simple Kaleidoscope Adapter

11 Mar 2021 3:07PM   Views : 397 Unique : 282

I think we can all remember the fun we had as children playing with a Kaleidoscope. Once when I was travelling for work in New York State, I had to visit Corning Glass, and from their gift shop, bought the children a great toy - they called it a ‘Marbleoscope’ - essentially a kaleidoscope tube with a clear glass marble in the end. You looked through it and everything had kaleidoscopic symmetry - lovely bizarre patterns and colours. We (the children) still have these!

So what better than to make something like this for the front end of a camera? It didn’t take very long and has given a lot of pleasure, and just one or two quite good images. I know you can probably buy such a thing, but making it, realising what you have done wrong and remaking it is a really good exercise, and satisfying in the end!
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The first picture is of a completed adapter. This is basically a black tube (a bit of downpipe) glued onto a surplus filter, screwed onto the front of a lens. Here I've used a 20mm prime, as I had a spare 72mm filter. Inside the tube is a triangular construction made of three bits of glass. It should ideally be surface mirror coated, but uncoated glass works really well, just giving a bit of vignetting with the increasing number of reflections away from the centre.

You need three bits of glass, cut so they will make a reasonably snug triangular fit inside your tube. The length isn’t particularly critical. The effect will be different with different lenses anyway. The glass pieces are taped to hold them together.
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These photos show the ‘core’ of the construction - from the side and looking up the end. See the effect already! Doesn’t that make you want to get on, finish it and get snapping before the sun goes down? I used thin (2mm) picture glass, cut with a diamond or other glass cutter. The thin glass cuts much more easily than standard window glass (it is fun and really satisfying when it goes well, which isn't always, but you could buy three bits cut to size). You could use mirror plastic sheet, but take care to keep it flat and undistorted when assembling it.

Next stage is to cut the tube to the same length as the core and glue the assembly together. Glue or tape the tube onto the filter ring. At the other end, use some opaque tape to block the light from anywhere other than the central triangle (look through it when it is on your camera and you will see why!

Right - good to go! With a short focal length lens the effect is more like a kaleidoscope, as you only get a ‘sharp’ triangle when the lens is focussed on the end of the tube and this is close to the subject. With longer focal lengths, the end of the tube will be out of focus and the different parts of the image will overlap and blur. Time to experiment!

Here are a few examples…’Tulips on Fire’ , ‘Iris’, ‘Self Portrait of an Optics MadMan’ an abstracts and another 'Iris'. It is fun just walking around with this on your camera, looking for colours and patterns, people, body parts, jewellery, gold, diamonds - anything that takes your fancy. Computer monitors are good too.
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I hope you enjoyed this and try something like this out! Message me for any more details.

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