In October 2018, French photographer Mathieu Stern created a camera lens made of ice from an iceberg in Iceland that had been purified over the last 10,000 years, claiming no other photographer had done this before. Stern modified his Sony camera to hold the ice lens, spending 6 months experimenting with prototype 3D-printed lens bodies to get the proper shape and focus distance, as well as other stuff he needed for his trip to Iceland.

After 2 weeks in Iceland, he ended up at Diamond Beach, circa 200 miles east of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, where he found the right iceberg to get ice from. His efforts to extract a hemisphere of ice from the iceberg were assisted by a Japanese ice ball maker. In his kitchen, at temperature of about 20°C, Stern was able to make an ice lens in at most 5 minutes. At Diamond Beach, it took closer to 45 minutes, due to the ice taking much longer to melt in Iceland’s polar environment. As his first 4 ice lenses broke, Stern spent 5 hours getting a single working lens, still only having a single minute to take his photographs before it started to melt.

3D printing is enabling makers, photographers and hobbyists create cameras that would have been almost impossible any other way. In May 2018, hobbyist photographer Alexander Gee created his own 35mm film camera, 3D printing the camera’s body and having the prototype shutter mechanism take inspiration from a Sony α7. In January 2017, award-winning design engineer Jude Pullen, of the BBC Two show “The Big Life Fix”, 3D printed a camera rig and made an accompanying app to help a photographer who suffers from epidermolysis bullosa.


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