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Modify and Reload Instead of Throwing Away - AGFAPHOTO LEBOX Single Use Camera

A beautiful vignette and multiple exposurse from a camera that costs EUR5? Is it possible? Well, now it is. Read this easy tutorial and see the samples!

DISCLAMER: This camera contains an electronic flash circuit, that may have the voltage and energy stored to shake you or even potentially kill you! The reader must accept all responsibility from his actions with a high voltage circuit. A safety feature has been suggested in the text below, but you are not advised to proceed unless you know what you are doing.

This tipster adds two new features to an already used AGFAPHOTO LeBox Single use camera with flash: vignettes and multiple exposures. Both are unrelated and can live happily ever after either on their own, or together. You will also see how to reload the camera, which is again unrelated to either the vignette or multiple exposure modification and can be performed on its own.

This is the camera that the tipster has been written for:

The tipster can not be guaranteed to work with other cameras, but you’re welcome to experiment.

The tools used:

  • Insulated electrician’s pliers;
  • A small Philips screwdriver;
  • Scissors;
  • A drill bit for metal – size 4mm or 5mm;
  • Glue, suitable for PS plastic;
  • A black cocktail straw;
  • A small flat screwdriver 1.5mm wide and with at least 22 mm long blade;
  • A small round file (not pictured above);
  • A roll of fresh film, 100ASA or 200ASA; 400ASA can also be used, but bright sun will overexpose it badly;
  • An electric or manual screwdriver with a large flat head for winding fresh film;
  • A replacement AA battery if the original one has died.

We start by opening the camera and removing the battery:

Press with the small flat screwdriver:

WARNING: Opening the front cover exposes the flash circuit, that can still have lethal voltage. Do not touch the circuit or any metal bars/cables.

You have to make sure no voltage is present. For the purpose, lock the shutter via the toothed wheel in the back and fire it by pressing the shutter release button. Just for the peace of mind, locate the main capacitor’s leads (black cylinder) and shorten them with the insulated electrician’s pliers, by holding the later by the insulated handles and keeping your other arm in the pocket:

Adding the vignette

The vignette requires detaching the lens from the internal mechanisms, drilling a larger hole and attaching a small cylindrical shade internally. We start by removing the lens assembly:

Use the small Philips screwdriver to remove the lens plate from the camera’s internals, and twist gently the lens front in counter-clockwise direction to completely disassemble.

Then drill gently the aperture with the drill bit:

You can hold the drill bit with a hand, the plastic is very soft and can easily be drilled without a power tool.

The source of the vignette is a small shade that will sit internally in the newly drilled aperture opening. It is cut from an ordinary black cocktail straw:

Cut 3 to 4mm. 3mm makes less vignetting, 4 – more, but if you make it longer than about 4.5mm, it will interfere with the shutter leaf below it.

If the inside is glossy, then file it gently with the small round file:

File until it becomes matte.

Cut the shade:

and place it behind the lens, in the new aperture opening (the lens elements will have to be assembled first):

Use a very small droplet of glue to fix the shade in place. Make sure it does not protrude behind, where the shutter leaf moves.

Now, assemble the lens plate to the camera and make sure the shutter fires correctly. For the purpose, cock it with the toothed wheel on the back, and looking towards a bright light, fire away. You must see a short flash of light when the shutter is opening. If it doesn’t, see if the spring is attached properly to the leaf, and if the newly attached shade is interfering with its operation. Use the small screwdriver to attach the spring properly, or make a new smaller shade if that’s the problem.
Make sure the shutter is working properly after the modification. If it doesn’t your film will be wasted…

Adding multiple exposure

MX (multiple exposure) is seemingly impossible on that camera, since film motion (transferred by the toothed wheel) is what cocks the shutter. Well, not exactly, we are going to cock the shutter without moving our film, by pushing a lever, that is hidden inside the camera. To do so, we shall drill a small hole in the camera body, and engage the lever in question with the small flat screwdriver:

You don’t need a drill bit in order to drill that. Press and rotate with the screwdriver, the plastic is very soft.

Make sure the new hole does not fog the film. It must be a few mm above that line:

The lever that we are going to activate is directly connected to a spring. In order to avoid detaching the spring from the lever when pushing, we shall heat-seal the spring-lever connection:

This is a tricky business. You need to heat the blade of a screwdriver in the flame of a cigarette lighter and quickly, but gently press the plastic until it melts around the spring end.

Our Multiple exposure is now ready. We shall engage it whenever we decide by pushing with the small flat screwdriver. It must not be thicker than about 1.5mm in order for the MX to work. Obviously the screwdriver will have to be available at the time of shooting.

Reloading the camera

This part is unrelated to the modifications above, and can be performed without removing the front cover and exposing yourself to the flash circuit.

To reload, we need the film edge to be gently trimmed:

Set the counter to 9 or 11:

Attach the film to the internal roller:

Make sure it is well attached. The trimmed edge should protrude through the opening in the roller for a secure fit.

Then place a battery and close:

By gently pressing the lever at the front of the camera, make sure the wind wheel rotates freely:

You need not press firmly. If it doesn’t work, you are probably pressing it in the wrong direction.

Here comes the tricky part: You need to continue pressing, while rotating the spool counter-clockwise. I used an electric screwdriver, but an ordinary one will work too:

If it doesn’t reach to an end, probably the film is detached from the spool. Open in a completely dark room and check.

So, are you ready to snap that beautiful vignette away?

The compact size is just fine for those long hiking sessions (but the added complexity of the multiple exposure is not):

written by adash

9 comments

  1. giovannidecarlo

    giovannidecarlo

    GREAT !

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. emilios

    emilios

    Congrats. Very useful article!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. robotmonkey1996

    robotmonkey1996

    Dat capacitor... I remember doing this with another disposable a while back... The thing shocked me and made me grip the camera so hard I crushed it.

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. clownshoes

    clownshoes

    Great job man!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. berndtotto

    berndtotto

    Fantastic effort. The thing is just ... those instant or single use cameras are often cheaper than the film inside ;-))

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  6. berndtotto

    berndtotto

    What often makes me also wonder though, why toy cameras are so expensive.

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  7. skatesauce

    skatesauce

    Is it required to drill the aperture for the vignette ?

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  8. adash

    adash

    @skatesauce No idea really, probably you don't need to drill it if you can attach the "shade" or collar on the inside. You will however have to consider that the hole is originally too small, and the straw walls aren't of zero thickness, so you may end with a hole too small for use.
    Please also note that the lengths for the collar quoted here are for a wide hole, and they will have to be shorter if the shade is narrower.

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  9. skatesauce

    skatesauce

    Okay thanks for those details and very useful article by the way :) !

    about 2 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch.