Analog Camera Design Project

Senior Project Thesis

California Polytechnic State University

Mechanical Engineering - Product Design and Development

Analog Camera Design Thesis - Full Report


With the resurgence in popularity of analog film, the current analog photography market has a limited inventory of functioning analog cameras making for a highly saturated seller’s market asking astronomical prices for mid to late 20th century cameras. The Analog Camera Project’s vision is to develop a product that can be introduced into the analog camera market that attempts to fix the issue that is occurring with repairability and access to functioning mechanical cameras. The design of the analog camera is based around the use of readily available components to simplify the overall design and the design process. In order to reduce the cost of the product to the end user as much as possible, design considerations need to be taken to utilize cost-effective processes, material selection, and investment decisions. After completing the design and prototyping phases, the analog camera was functioning and able to create results comparable to the inflated products on the market today. As well, the cost per unit was able to be reduced to be well below market value for a comparable product which would be able to generate profit and also provide a way to offset the reduction of quality cameras on the market. 

Market Research & Detailed Measurements

Extensive market research shows the cost of analog film cameras are increasing as the availability of replacement parts is decreasing. 

By creating a cost-effective and accessible alternative to brand name parts, this project was able to connect existing and available camera components with modern technologies to form a functional mechanical camera.

To fit with existing components, detailed measurements using GD&T ensured proper cohesion of components and a quality fit. 

Figure: Detailed measurements for the Hasselblad A12 film back and Mamiya Universal 75mm lens

3D Modeling & Rapid Prototyping

The Analog Camera Project combined my mechanical engineering degree and product design concentration to focus on manufacturability, rather than aesthetics. Integrating 3D printing into the prototyping phase was key to significantly reducing overall cost of product introduction and production.

          Project Goals

+ Develop a minimum viable product (MVP) to compare product with desired user benefits

+ Ensure proper dimensioning,  tolerances of product features

+ Generate rapid prototypes to eliminate outsourcing costs

+ Reduce time between product iterations and lead time between product sprints, resulting in quicker overall project completion 

Product Results & Troubleshooting

First Test

No image

Light Leak

Focus Adjustment Needed

Second Test


Light Leak Fixed

Further Focus Adjustment Needed

Third Test


Light Leak Fixed

Focus Adjustment Fixed

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma was implemented to meet the intent of the project by creating a low-cost alternative to expensive brand-name camera parts. By using these techniques, the overall cost of a high quality professional film camera was reduced from $1,200 to $350.

Strategies Used

+ Business Model Canvas

+ Design and prototyping deadlines

+ Strategies for market introduction

+ Design for manufacturing

+ Top-Down CAD Design

+ Evaluation of business expenses and economic factors

Agile Project Management

The process flow was tracked using Agile Project Management to meet deadlines and create a product in a relevant timeframe. Product backlogs and user stories identified key aspects of design, Andon Visual management was used to identify project priorities, and gantt charts compared project progress to current status.

Figure: Product Backlog Table with time estimates and priority color labelling

Financial Cost Analysis

The Analog Camera Project’s financial cost analysis confirmed overall profitability and feasibility of generating a revenue stream from the product lines. This forecasted the potential earnings and created opportunities to make income-driven design decisions, should this product go to market. 

Table:  Variable Costs of ProductsTable


+ Product Lines (price per unit, cost of goods sold (COGS), margin per unit)

+ Investment (market research and analysis, prototype materials, 3D printer)

+ Operating Capital (overhead, advertising, wages, insurances, licenses)

+ Variable Costs (bulk raw material, labor, shipping)

+ Production Costs (injection molding, product materials, packaging design and materials)

+ Sales Projections (1, 3, and 5 year projections)

Using Format