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Build your own point-and-shoot camera with Bigshot

By dpreview staff on Aug 6, 2013 at 19:03 GMT

Budding young photographers (and curious adults) can put together their own camera with Bigshot, a DIY point-and-shoot aimed at teaching kids tech hardware basics. Developed partially with funding from Google, the kit includes everything needed to construct the camera including a 3 megapixel image sensor, 1.4 inch LCD and a wheel with three built in lens options – standard, panoramic and stereo for 3D images (all are fixed focal length). A rechargeable lithium-ion battery is also included, complemented by a hand crank for a little extra power when the battery dies.

The Bigshot kit includes a chassis and all of the inner-workings needed to build a fully functional point-and-shoot. 

An accompanying interactive online guide explains the concepts behind the hardware components. Recommended for children ages 8 and older, part of the Bigshot mission is introducing these advanced tech topics to elementary or middle school students. A portion of Bigshot sales will help get these cameras into the hands of underprivileged children around the world.

The Bigshot website features a 'learn' section which contains a lot of admirably clear, comprehensive technical information about digital cameras. It's an excellent learning resource - and not just for beginners.

Originally developed by a professor at Columbia University, Bigshot has been licensed for production and distribution around the world. It's currently available online for $89 (not including shipping), though online orders are limited to North America. 

Via: BBC News, Source: Bigshot

Comments

Total comments: 54
WDZaphod
By WDZaphod (4 months ago)

Just got it as a birthday present for my son. The idea is nice, the hand crank cute, but the image quality is just a disaster. I really did not expect much, but it's FAR below even the lowest expectations. The flash is completely useless. Too bright for close things, to weak for far ones. I will give a try tomorrow outdoor, but the intension was to get a cam for stop motion movies. My little one loves this. Naturally they are taken indoor - looks very very bad.
What a waste, it costs around 100 Euros incl. shipping here. For 30 Euros I wouldn't be sad, mounting it is fun. But for the price it's just a nightmare. Need to find another present tomorrow, because this one is an offense even for a 7 year old child.

0 upvotes
fabio riccardi
By fabio riccardi (7 months ago)

this was the perfect gift for my son's 11th birthday. I loves it, he built it himself and he's very proud of it.
Can't stop him taking pictures...

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

The shutter release is called a 'shoot button'. I guess it has an electronic shutter.

Company is Kimera. Play on 'chimera' or 'camera'. 'Obskura' could work.

Why no purple. Need underwater housing.
No IR option. Do it got an AA filter.
Just what is this thing :^)

1 upvote
Gabriel Yeo
By Gabriel Yeo (8 months ago)

Kids these days have short attention spans. They're not interested in carrying around a camera let alone build one.
They have their smartphone cameras and Instagram app. That's about as far they'd go with photography.

0 upvotes
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (8 months ago)

Lens Setting: Field of View (35mm Equivalent - Horizontally)
Regular: 40° (~50mm)
Panoramic: 80° (~22mm)
and Stereo (3D): 16° (~128mm)
Image Size: 2408x1536

http://www.bigshotcamera.com/camera/specifications

interesting FL FOV

the WA 22mm equivalent FL for panorama mode interests me so long as the image captured is not pre-cropped, but left uncropped.
just checked...
good: apparently panorama software cropping is option for wide shots

now
all they need to do is add interchangeable fisheye lens, etc
and one has an affordable green digital lomography alternative !
:)

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
YouDidntDidYou
By YouDidntDidYou (8 months ago)

I'm going buy one of these for one of my sons at Christmas :)

0 upvotes
YouDidntDidYou
By YouDidntDidYou (8 months ago)

http://www.flickr.com/groups/bigshotcamera/ on Flickr...

0 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (8 months ago)

D400 anyone?

2 upvotes
Kinematic Digit
By Kinematic Digit (8 months ago)

Don't care unless it has a ZEISS lens, sony sensor, a review with samples..... ;-)

Reminds me of the Konstruktor except for digital.

1 upvote
DanCee
By DanCee (8 months ago)

this is cool! and pretty much affordable

0 upvotes
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (8 months ago)

That sux, no raw support. Guess this won't be replacing me 5D3 after all. Dang it!

(Kicks rocks)

3 upvotes
jjlmoose
By jjlmoose (8 months ago)

I think the point of this camera (which a lot of people are missing) is to get kids excited about going out and taking pictures... How many kids can go and take pictures with a camera they "built"? I think for most, it would be a huge sense of accomplishment to capture and see images from an instrument that they assembled themselves, regardless of the level of complexity. Besides, what 8-10 year old is really going to, or wants to understand focal ratios and depth of field and ISO settings... The best camera is the one you have with you and it's quite possible a kid would be more likely to have this camera with them, purely from the pride they have for it. Ok, now can we have some adult kits please? ;-)

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (8 months ago)

thanks for making that clear, i really thought about selling all my gear for that ...

1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (8 months ago)

Too bad other cameras aren't as friendly to tinkering or rebuilding. Of course, then they might not be as small or snuggy constructed. Anyone who dismantles a P&S to clean a sensor also discovers that dust ingested by the operation may exceed the dust removed.

Oh, how about a medium format version of the same instructional "toy"?

One thing you can't do, however, is build your own sensor. Home brewing or gardening are an easier reach.

0 upvotes
RadioGnome
By RadioGnome (8 months ago)

Like the hand crank. Makes it work Rollei / Hasselblad style. Wind the crank and take a picture.

0 upvotes
LaFonte
By LaFonte (8 months ago)

It is cute and in the same ballpark as other kits go. It brushes too much off the actual camera module and operation, it is more like building a dynamo flash light - practically what the kid learns is how a gear works as that is the only real assembly. But cute, 20 minutes project.

2 upvotes
Alphoid
By Alphoid (8 months ago)

Great idea, but when you dig a bit deeper, it's useless. I had tons of kits like these as a little kid. I learned next to nothing from them. Look at the software. It's closed. Look at the spec sheet. Even the spec sheet doesn't mention lens specs (aperture? focal length? etc.), sensor specs, etc.

To actually build a kit that's helpful, you need more depth of technical information. Kids should be able to build something, and at the very least, come out understanding what they've built, but ideally, be able to tweak it and modify it.

I'd kill for a kit that did that. Open firmware. Open software. Full specs. Clearly written kid-readable explanations not just of how to put things together, but of why. Step 1 should be assembling a kit. There needs to be room for steps 2-5, where most of the learning happens (there are very good kits which do this).

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (8 months ago)

I dunno. Based on your reply, you may have learned more than you acknowledge.

0 upvotes
Alphoid
By Alphoid (8 months ago)

I also had more meaningful kits.

The best educational toy was my PC. At the time, all PCs came with BASIC and similar tools. Other good toys were things like Legos (the fancy ones with gears and motors and things), and similar kits.

The worst ones were like this. Actually, the worst one was a !@#$%^ 101-in-1 electronics kit from Radio Shack. It had a bunch of components, schematics for how to assemble them into e.g. a superhetrodyne radio, or a sound maker, or similar. Each of these would come with a 3 paragraph explanation for how the circuit worked. I'd spent 20 minutes assembling the gizmo, and hours trying to read and reread those explanations trying to understand how it worked. It wasn't until a decade later that I learned that the circuits were far more complex in operation than a 3-paragraph description could capture, required more math than an elementary student could handle. The main thing I learned there was perhaps patience and how to deal with frustration...

1 upvote
backayonder
By backayonder (8 months ago)

get the kids a Raspberry Pi and the camera module instead

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Yes, I also thought about the Radio Shack kits. I wondered if anyone would mention them.

This thing sounds more like the Lego wit motors set, though. Larger pieces. Sensor assy. in place of motor and then gear/housing/etc. Of course, you didn't wind your own motor with the Legos so about the same...

I had no Lego motor. Did get to play with erector set. Patience to futz with screws... Are erector sets still sold? Tinker Toys...?

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (8 months ago)

Shouldn't the i and the o be swapped?

1 upvote
Danny
By Danny (8 months ago)

:)

1 upvote
Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (8 months ago)

Nice idea.

1 upvote
Camediadude
By Camediadude (8 months ago)

I want it!

1 upvote
Tom_A
By Tom_A (8 months ago)

I had been thinking already that a ful, decent qualityl sensor & screen module would be something great for tinkerers.
Imagine 3D printing a replacement back for a great classic camera like a Nikon FM2 or F3 in which such a module would perfectly fit, that would be really cool.

1 upvote
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (8 months ago)

Nice pr0n music for the vid. Whoever scored it must've been laughing a lot, esp during the "power generation" sequence.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

Dear American children, learn how to make cameras and become engineers, then get up and go to Japan or Korea because your stupid MBA parents killed American industry.

1 upvote
utomo99
By utomo99 (8 months ago)

why not going to china and make the factory in china ?

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (8 months ago)

Children in China , Korea, India etc go to school to become engineers , children in the US go to school to become party animals and that is why the tech industry has to go over there to get the people they need.

3 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

Wrong, the US has the best engineers in the world, half of them foreign born who came from Chine/India etc. But the corporate management, totally illiterate MBAs who know nothing about the businesses they supposedly "manage" and don't want to know (after all they went to MBA to avoid learning anything in an engineering school in the first place)... Appointed by the socialist boards who "represent" owners (mutual funds owned by pension funds "owned" by hundreds of millions of people a few cent per person - true "everybody is an owner=nobody owns it" al-la Soviets) and who don't personally own any significant part of the company themselves.

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (8 months ago)

"Wrong, the US has the best engineers in the world, half of them foreign born who came from Chine/India etc"
Wrong ? Really ?

0 upvotes
Joel Pimenta
By Joel Pimenta (8 months ago)

lomo konstruktor in digital

3 upvotes
Joseph Mama
By Joseph Mama (8 months ago)

Looks interesting, but it needs some work to be competitive.

I'll hold out for the Mk2 version. Rumor is that it will have a backside illuminated sensor, 2.0 aperature, 20x zoom, and full frame sensor! I read it on cameraRumorsRUs.

3 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (8 months ago)

A great idea. And love that crank. Wouldn't it be great to have a crank like that on other cameras. We've all been there, when the battery dies and need to take just one more shot - just turn the crank!

3 upvotes
duartix
By duartix (8 months ago)

I'd already be happy if cameras charged by USB.

0 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (8 months ago)

Very cool. Hopefully there will be a number of camera modules in the future. It would be nice if they make the connection specs publically available, so we could build/adapt our own modules too.

Particularly good to see 3D appearing in a camera at this price point!

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (8 months ago)

This looks like a really fun project for a parent and child.

And a lot more educational than getting them another "shoot em up" video game.

4 upvotes
ChesterY
By ChesterY (8 months ago)

Cool that it's a ready-to-go kit for assembly instructions, etc. Another avenue for parents with older children capable of more intricate work would be to take a old, cheap digital, disassemble it, and then reassemble...

1 upvote
joe6pack
By joe6pack (8 months ago)

I too wish the camera firmware is open sourced. This opens up a lot of opportunity.

I like the idea very much. Especially love the crank. Hope to see some samples.

1 upvote
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (8 months ago)

I don't remember how long ago I first heard of this, but it's been a while. Very nice instructional thing for kids... but I think it would be better if they also opened-up the camera software so that kids could script it to take photos, etc. Probably using a chip set that doesn't make that too easy, but that's where I'd go next.... ;-)

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

raspberry Pi.

2 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (8 months ago)

You know, I really want to love my Pi, but it doesn't quite cut it. You have to add so many bits & pieces (SD card, power, wireless, housing, keyboard+mouse, etc.) it ends up costing as much as a netbook with a comparable total size (but no built-in battery or display on the Pi). As an embedded thing, there are lots of smaller and cheaper choices than Pi. Anyway, the real programmable camera bargain is still a Canon PowerShot running CHDK. A used 8MP one cost me $10, the processor is decent, and it has a display and will run off batteries (AA for that particular model).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Asa Spades
By Asa Spades (8 months ago)

What... No full frame sensor?

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

Very cool. I may pick one up for my 8 year old.

1 upvote
Martin87
By Martin87 (8 months ago)

I think that this camera could be too fragile for your 8 year old :)

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

What other age group would appreciate a toy-ish camera that you assemble?

1 upvote
Martin87
By Martin87 (8 months ago)

I think that slightly older kids will appreciate this camera more because they have more intelligence. This camera would be perfect for kids aged of 13-14 years old.

0 upvotes
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (8 months ago)

This is something an inquisitive 8 year-old would love. Doubly-so if they could work on it with a parent/guardian.

2 upvotes
mister_roboto
By mister_roboto (8 months ago)

I would like building one, and I'm in my mid-30's. I'd have a blast doing it.

5 upvotes
dfrnz
By dfrnz (8 months ago)

I built my first desktop computer when I was 12 so I probably thought this would have been a joke then, and with kids being exposed to technology at even younger ages (I see 1st graders operating iPads with more finesse than their parents), I wouldn't doubt an 8-year-old could handle building this camera. Perhaps we will be giving medium format digital backs to newly-born babies in a few years!

0 upvotes
Mike_V
By Mike_V (8 months ago)

After my kid puts this together can he get a job a Foxconn or something?

1 upvote
dccdp
By dccdp (8 months ago)

@Martin87: Do you have kids?

0 upvotes
fabio riccardi
By fabio riccardi (7 months ago)

My son who is 11 built it himself and loves it! :)

0 upvotes
Total comments: 54