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How to create a camera mount with basic materials?

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  1. Mar 24, 2017 #1
    I have a project which requires me to get 5 very specific images of an object from various angles. The user can't use their hands because it would be too shakey and introduce error. These images have to be precise and steady. So that's why I need to build a helper camera mounting device to help. I need help in designing this. The background of the images also needs to be removed.

    The 5 angles I need is 4 from it's sides 0 degrees, 90 degrees, 180 degrees, 270 degrees. Where the camera is x distance away from the center of the object. The fifth angle is a top down view of the object, but the camera also needs to be x distance away from the center of the object.

    How could I construct such a device that can attach any phone to it and use it's camera?

    Requirements:
    1. The device can attach any size phone to it.
    2. Camera position has to be adjustable so that the camera is pointing at the center (horizontally and vertically) of the object.
    3. Can only be mechanical, and no wires, circuits, or electronics, or motors.
    4. Materials used can be bought from big hardware stores such rona, home depot, home hardware.
    5. Need to minimize cost of materials and general effort to assemble it.
    6. Need to be able to see the phone screen to see what the camera is showing.
    7. A green screen that becomes the background of all 5 shots, so that a program can automate removing the background.


    What I had in mind, would be a a plank of wood, with a circular piece on the center which the object rests on. The initial rotation a marker lines up with the 0 degree marker. There is also markers marked for 90, 180 and 270 degrees. So the user can just rotate the circular thing and align the markers to exactly rotate the object with each of the 4 degrees, so the camera can get the 4 side shots. Then there would be two thin L shape sticks attached to the main wood plank. The phone would rest in the center of the 2 L sticks held by rubber bands. It can be attached on the bottom for the 4 side shots, and also on the top to get the top down view. For the bottom position, it needs something to stand on, so perhaps another rubber band twisted in a 8 shape. Then I could tape green papers all around it. With a green wall behind it.

    Does anyone have any better ideas?

    Thanks

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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2017 #2

    mfb

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    How large is x?

    What is the required precision for the camera location and the rotation angles? In particular, how does that compare to the different camera locations on different phones, and how well does that work with rubber bands?

    A "hole and alignment points" construction looks more reliable than rubber bands.
     
  4. Mar 24, 2017 #3

    BillTre

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    Alternatively, you might find it easier to keep the camera in one place and move/rotate/tilt the object being photographed.
     
  5. Mar 24, 2017 #4
    x is probably going to be around 1.5-2 feet. The location of the phone should be such that when the camera takes the picture, the center of the image should align with the center of the object. I don't have any exact numbers for precision, but it should basically be as close as possible to center align. I know different phones have different sizes and different camera positions, so this device will have to take that into account and be adjustable so that the phone can be positioned so the camera is properly aligned. I was thinking rubber bands could do that since you can adjust its position. When taking the bottom position, its possible I need to raise the phone a little, so that's why I thought of having a rubber band twisted in a 8 shape be the thing the phone rests on, if it needs to be higher than ground level.

    I also thought about just manually rotating the object with each of it's 4 degrees, but this device will ultimately be used by average joe's and they could easily not rotate it enough or too much. For this to work, it has to be rotated at exactly 0, 90, 180, 270 degrees. Using a marker, might help the user to get the best accuracy to rotate.

    Also I'm not familiar with the "hole and alignment points" construction. Do you have an image? Also if it's what I think your saying, there would only be a limited fixed amount of spots I can use. What if I need a spot in between 2 holes to use?

    Also I need the top view because the object could be a glass of water, if I tilt it, the water will spill.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  6. Mar 24, 2017 #5

    JBA

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    The light source really needs to be rotated with the camera to prevent shadows from the various fixture elements and the camera; particularly, when the camera is directly above the object.

    How large are the objects you want to photograph?
     
  7. Mar 24, 2017 #6

    mfb

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    Rubber bands are flexible, they every image will have a slightly different position and orientation of the camera.

    All phones I know of have their camera in the upper half. If you make a support for the lower half (including some features sticking out of the surface to help with alignment), you can make a big hole in the wooden sheet to have the camera point through that hole.
     
  8. Mar 24, 2017 #7
    True, the images will need the same lighting without shadow. So that would mean the light source should come from the camera. Maybe I can just use the camera flash to handle that.

    The objects will basically be food items from restaurants, so it should be safe to assume the biggest will probably be a large dinner plate size. Although there can be large pizza's, but I wouldn't worry so much about that. I can probably modify the design later to handle bigger things by scaling everything, or using longer materials.

    Rubber bands are flexible and they might wobble or shake, so you might have a point there. In that case I would need something more sturdy to hold the phone at any position. Holes in a stick might not work because they limit the number of positions, and I need to be as flexible as possible. Maybe something like a vice grip to stick to a pole would work better.

    Also do you mean to make a hole in the wood base floor and put the phone in that? Also how would I raise it if it needs to go higher?
     
  9. Mar 24, 2017 #8

    mfb

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    Here is a sketch showing what I meant. The hole can be really big to accommodate all common phone types. The alignment corner makes sure the phone has the correct orientation.

    sketch.png
     
  10. Mar 24, 2017 #9
    It's a bit confusing because it looks like the phone is flat on the ground. How would it take the picture of the object, and where would the object be?
     
  11. Mar 24, 2017 #10

    mfb

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    The board is the distance x above the surface where the object rests on.
    At the place where you want to take the picture - where else?
     
  12. Mar 24, 2017 #11
    oh ok, so that whole thing would be on top, but it looks like there is a lot of extra material needed for the top then. I was looking to minimize on material used. In my example, I have two L shape sticks, which is much less material.
     
  13. Mar 24, 2017 #12

    mfb

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    You don't need a large board. Just large enough for the phone. Don't take the sketch too literal.
     
  14. Mar 24, 2017 #13
    It could work, but I'm also looking to minimize other factors. Your idea would increase material compared to my idea. It would need an extra base on top. Then you would need to cut a hole in it, then construct that alignment piece and stick it on the base. It just seems like it would be more effort and cost to construct compared to my example.

    Basically, as part of the requirements, the total cost and effort to build the whole device, should be minimized. So I'm looking for a way to make this sturdy but using materials that don't really need much modifications. In other words, putting them together like lego blocks (not literally as easy but you get the point).
     
  15. Mar 24, 2017 #14

    JBA

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    Do you intend for there to be multiple units like this and/or be assembled on site by different users?
     
  16. Mar 24, 2017 #15
    For starters the prototype would be developed by me so I can use, but it could potentially be used by others to assemble and use, so just looking for simplicity.
     
  17. Mar 24, 2017 #16

    JBA

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    One advantage of making it a box with multiple camera holes that can be covered is that then it will prevent possible stray external light created shadings and shadows if it is not always used in a dark environment. Other wise you are going to need some kind of shrouding with your open frame design to deal with that problem.

    I don't know how much of a background you have with quality display and precision photography, but one the biggest problems for indoor shooting of objects is controlling all of the ambient light intrusion issues. If you are going to try and combine your multiple shots into some type of a composite then consistent (and preferably diffuse) lighting across all views is absolutely necessary.
     
  18. Mar 25, 2017 #17

    mfb

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    Even Lego would be much more robust than a rubber band solution.

    The alignment blocks can be small wooden pieces or small metal angles. Something that takes 10 minutes to add with a negligible budget, and it will lead to a very precise alignment of the phone.
     
  19. Apr 5, 2017 #18
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