What the block: Japanese photographer builds Lego camera

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

Putting your bare foot through a rogue Lego piece is an excruciatingly painful experience.

So is losing your camera gear, or in the case of Japanese photographer and chef Abe-Chan, being forced to sell it because of financial difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

After getting rid of all of his cameras to keep his restaurant business afloat, Abe was left with few spare parts which would never sell if priced.

Not wanting the beauty of Yoshinogawa, the area of south Japan where he lives, to go to waste, Abe set about rebuilding a camera from the few parts he had – and a box of Lego.

“I made a camera with my son’s Lego and the equipment which would not sell,” he said. “It looks like a toy but even Lego can be a camera with some skill and knowledge.”

Abe combined an old bellows, lens and ground glass, plus a few hundred assorted pieces of Lego, to create a four-by-five large format camera. Lacking a digital viewfinder, he finished it off in quirky style by adding a mini-fig and duo of Lego dogs to keep a pair of spirit levels in place.

It works through the expansion and contraction of the bellows to allow the 38mm-170mm lens to be moved with respect to the focal plane for focussing.

The result is a lens from with a focal range of 135mm-600mm – far further than anything he owned previously.

Soon Abe realised that with Lego to burn he could technically add a number of new additions, including telephoto, to the camera which he usually lacked, including tilt and swing functions.

“As I made it, I came up with a number of functions which I lacked. I want these things, well Lego has infinite possibilities. I’m driven to the point where I have to shape it because I don’t have a camera.”

As for why he was so desperate to take pictures, Abe said the pictures speak for themselves.

“I live in a place that is worth shooting and I want you to know it’s beauty.”

Since making the amazing creation a few months ago the photographer has been travelling around south Japan using his peculiar invention to take some beautiful photos.

Surely his son will be hoping there are no massive upgrades due before Christmas.

Abe goes by @wagoimages on social media

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