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I've been helping out with the SYN Shop Talk podcast and picked up an inexpensive Canon video camera (HFR400) and needed a wide angle lens to make it more useful.  I have an old Sony wide angle lens that I bought years ago for my last video camera (which used DAT tapes if you remember those...).  The problem is that the adapter for the Sony lens is slightly smaller with a threaded mount and the Canon lens ring is not threaded at all.  Since I'm part of an amazing makerspace with access to 3D printers, I made this my first 3D printed project ever.

To make it more challenging, I decided to build the model in Blender, an open source 3D modeling/animation program.  Anyone familiar with Blender knows that its interface is not intuitive for beginners (read: wtf? when you first start playing with it).  In fact, I've been playing with Blender on and off for over a year, but haven't been motivated to put in the time to learn it even though I know it's a very powerful program.


Blender 2.67

Adobe Illustrator CS6



Makerbot Replicator 2 (printing PLA)

Digital Calipers (Mitutoyo)

Pocket Ruler (stainless steel)


The Sony wide angle lens that I have came with a threaded adapter, but the Canon does not have a threaded lens ring.  The lens ring is also a couple of millimeters larger in diameter.  The wide angle lens also has a clipping mechanism to hook onto the lens adapter and requires an internal overhang.


I've used various 3d modeling programs in my last career (graphic design), but that was a decade ago.  I've been following Blender for a long time, but only started playing with it off and on in the last year or so.  I like that it's open source and has a great toolset.  Coming from a background working with standardized interfaces (like Adobe), Blender was a confusing mess to learn, but the workflow gets faster once you learn the keyboard shortcuts.  I won't go into how to work with Blender here but there are a ton of great resources on their website.


After carefully measuring the original lens adapter (inside and out) and measuring the lens ring on the Canon, I tried to draw out a slice of the new adapter to Spin (Blender's term for "lathe").  I'm still working out how to do this as Blender is not a CAD program.  Eventually, I decided to draw the slice in Illustrator and import it into Blender.  Once it was drawn out, I added a line where the center point would be and exported to SVG with the default settings.

FYI, it did not import at size in Blender for me and the slice had to be scaled up to work with it.  The slice also imported as a point cloud with no faces and it took a while to figure out that this was the case.  The fix is easy though: 

1.  In Object Mode, go to Object Menu and Convert To: Mesh from Curve (ALT C)

2.  Go to Edit Mode and Select All (A)

3.  Go the Mesh Menu in Edit Mode and select Faces: FIll (ALT F)

The geometry should fill with a mesh of triangles. This can now be extruded or lathed. 

Side Note: you can Spin the point cloud slice, but it doesn't create anything but another point cloud in the shape of the object you're making.  If you check your models in Meshlab, the program will tell you that this object has no holes to fill.  Makerware will even import and export to print with no problems.  I have a perfect print of the support material and raft with no object to prove it.


Since the Canon doesn't have any lens ring threads, the lens adapter has to be held onto the camera some other way.  Originally, I thought about using a small tab and some tape (version #1) would work well, but after printing it, I realized that the tab was too thin and the tip broke off while playing with it.  The inner ring of the adapter fit tightly into the Canon lens ring and I noticed that it was holding it with friction only.  The tab was so small and thin that the weight of the lens was pulling it off of the camera.  After a quick redesign with a beefier tab, the lens adapter worked perfectly.  The rest of the pictures are here.