For the do-it-yourselfers out there, here's a description of how one might go about fabricating a filter adapter for your digital camera.
The instructions below are for the original Xtend-a-Lens designed to work with the Kodak DC260/265/290 series of cameras. You're on your own for other cameras. Please note that depending on the type of ABS coupling you get, the auto-focus function on the camera may not work correctly depending on the thickness of the material. The original Xtend-a-Lens was turned on a lathe to thin the walls of the unit. This is generally beyond the scope of most home shop environments.
- One 1-1/2-inch ABS coupling (available at most hardware stores). Note: Try to find one that is reasonably smooth all the way around. It will look much nicer when assembled.
- One 49mm filter (find one used -- usually runs about US $6-8)
- One foot of nonskid, rubberized material (1 inch wide), used in applications where stairs are slippery. Don't buy the sandpaper type. This will damage your camera. This material is approximately 1/16" thick and has a texture to it, and is typically grey in color and manufactured by 3M
- Misellaneous glue (epoxy or ABS type)
- Sandpaper - 150 grit (see step 1)
- Black metal paint (see step 3)
- X-Acto® knife
- Flat razor blade
Xtend-a-Lens 290 - already built by Photosolve! - for Kodak DC260, DC265 and DC290 cameras
Xtend-a-Lens adapters for other cameras
What does a lens adapter allow me to do?
- One end of the ABS coupling will probably have some raised lettering on it which looks kind of tacky in a final product, however, if you don't care, skip this step. Place the sandpaper on a flat surface, then place the "lettered" end of the coupling on the sandpaper, and sand in a circular fashion until the lettering is gone (surface is flat). Both ends of the coupling will now look approximately the same.
- Carefully remove the glass (or plastic) from the 49mm filter. You may have to break out the glass with a hammer. It's suggested that you cover the filter with a cloth and then carefully hit the center of the filter with the hammer. Carefully remove the broken shards, and clean up the filter.
- This step is optional, but really makes a difference in the final product. Paint the filter to cover up the (typical) white letter that's on the outside
- To make the filter fit in the coupling, you'll need to scrape the inside of the coupling with an X-Acto blade knife. Angle the knife and apply a scraping motion to angle the inside edge of one end of the coupling. Generally, you'll want to use the unsanded end to attach the filter ring, so it'll look nice. Be careful in this step not to take off too much material. Check periodically to see if the ring fits. You know you're there when it slips in perfectly flush with the coupling.
- Once the filter ring fits, you need to glue it in place. Apply glue sparingly to the threads of the filter ring and then press into place. Let this dry. (Note: The best glue here is ABS glue, although, if you're not doing a bunch of ABS work, it might make more sense to use Epoxy here. Again, be sparing in the application, otherwise, you'll end up with a bit of a mess.)
- This next bit is somewhat tricky, and may be frustrating, but if done correctly will work first time, every time...
As the inside diameter of the coupling is approximately 2" in size, you'll need to cut a 6.5" length of the rubberized material. Carefully cut one end square with the sides. Remove the backing tape and roll the material inside out (sticky side out) into a small enough unit to fit easily inside the coupling end opposite from the filter assembly. It's important that you squarely cut edge end up on the outside.
Most ABS connectors will have a extra bit of plastic on the inside bout half way down the coupling. Use this ridge to line up the rubber material, and slowly adhere the rubber material to the walls of the coupling. This may take several tries to get it right, but it's worth it and it builds character. Once it's properly in place (you should make sure that it's completely flat all the way round the inside of the coupling), you'll notice that there's some overlap in the rubber on the inside of the coupling. We'll take care of that in a minute.
- Trim the excess material hanging out of the coupling with the flat razor blade. Use the edge of the coupling as a guide. It's thick enough to cause a little trouble, but gently and firmly work your way around the circumference of the coupling. Alternatively, you can use a paper cutter to trim the material to the proper width before installation.
- Lay the coupling on its side and look directly at the end where the rubber sleeve is installed. You should be able to see where you need to trim the rubber that overlaps the edge. Using the X-Acto blade, trim this excess so that when the excess is removed, the two ends of the rubber closely line up with each other.
- Grasp the adapter in one hand, your camera in the other and using a twisting motion, attach the connector. If it won't go on at all or is way too tight, the material used for the rubber grommet is too thick. You'll need to find some thinner material. If it's way too loose, and won't stay on the camera you can apply some shims under the rubber material. I've successfully used regular electrical tape in short strips (apply the back of the short shim to the sticky side of the rubber material). This may take a few adjustments. When it's perfect, you'll be able to slide the unit on and off fairly easily, but it will grip firmly in normal operation.
You can download the Xtend-a-Lens 290 manual from the Xtend-a-Lens FAQ page.
Good luck, and again, if you get frustrated and you'd like a real, bona fide Xtend-a-Lens, along with a comprehensive User's Guide, let me know.