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Thread: Making a pinhole camera

  1. #1

    Default Making a pinhole camera

    If you're sick of your top-of-the-line DSLR and want to do something different, try this (and sell me your 1D):

    All you need is a Bengawan solo mooncake tin and an empty aluminum can.

    Cut a small piece of aluminum from the aluminum can, and drill a hole in it using a sewing needle. You will need some very fine sandpaper to sand the hole. This will be your pinhole plate. The procedure can be found here:

    http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam3.htm
    http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam4.htm

    Then make a hole in the Bengawan Solo (or any other shop) mooncake tin, and use duct tape to attach the pinhole plate over it.



    This is what the back of the tin cover looks like:


    The shutter is just a piece of black cardboard taped over the pinhole. Exposure times are in the region of 1-4 minutes, so any movement while opening and closing the shutter will not matter, unless you're pointing directly at the sun.

    You need a darkroom with a safelight, which costs about $18 at Ruby Photo. You can use your toilet, if you can tape up the windows with black cardboard, or make black curtains.

    This is what a safelight looks like:



    The photo paper needs to be loaded in the darkroom. A simple matter of using blutack to stick it onto the tin. Then you close the tin and the shutter and you're in business!

  2. #2

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    How to decide and measure the size of the pinhole?

    I use the scanner method. Just put your pinhole plate onto your flatbed scanner, set it to the highest possible resolution, and scan the part containing the pinhole.



    Then, using the same high resolution, scan the markings on a ruler.

    Use the circular marquee tool to cut out the hole in the first picture you scanned, then paste it onto the image of the ruler in a row, like so.



    Let's say each marking here is 0.5mm. As you can see, in this example, 4.5 of the holes span a distance of 1 mm. The diameter of the pinhole is therefore 1mm divided by 4.5 = 0.22mm.

    The focal length of your pinhole camera is the distance between the pinhole plate and the photo paper (measure it with a ruler!).

    You can find out the optimal pinhole size for the focal length of your camera using the calculator found here:

    http://www.mrpinhole.com/calcpinh.php

    Eg if the height of the tin (distance between pinhole plate and photo paper) is 70 mm, the optimal pinhole size would be 0.353. This means that in the above example I would have to enlarge my pinhole, to prevent diffraction artifacts.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    ibika
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    ....pinhole... photography at it's pure form.. thanks alot!

  5. #5

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    Wha.. Got any images to show?? I've never seen a pinhole image before.. =x

  6. #6

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    is there any digital back for this type of camera?

  7. #7

    Default

    The focal length calculator will also work out for you the aperture of your pinhole camera, so that you can meter the shutter speed. The ISO speed of photo paper varies between 2 to 10. But wild guesses work just as well - "hmmm... bright sunlight... 1 minute... cloudy skies... 1.5 minutes."

    Once you have composed your shot and made the exposure, it's time to develop the photo!



    You can get the tongs (optional) from Ruby Photo. The trays are $1.90 each from Giant Supermarket (Ruby sells similar trays for 6 bucks each). You will need developer and fixer, and optionally stop bath and HCA.

    Switch on the safelight, then open the tin. Take out the photo paper, and leave it for about 1 minute in each tray of solution:

    1. Developer - this will make the image magically appear as it converts the silver halide which has been exposed to light into metallic black silver. This is the step that makes developing your own stuff all worthwhile.

    2. Stop bath - this stops the developer from continuing to work, once your image is nicely developed. I use plain water, but you can buy stop bath, or use a few drops of cheap synthetic vinegar (which is all that stop bath solution is) in the stop bath tray.

    3. Fixer - this "fixes" the photo paper by chemically dissolving and removing any remaining photo-sensitive silver halide on the paper, so that you can view the print later.

    4. HCA - this step is optional, and helps to chemically remove any residual fixer (hypo) and thus significantly reduces washing time. It is important to remove all traces of fixer, because residual fixer causes yellow staining of prints in the long term.

    Actually the process is identical to film development.

    Developer costs less than $15 a bottle and fixer is less than $10 a bottle, and both can last a long time.

  8. #8

    Default

    Here is a sample of a pinhole photograph taken with the above camera. Being a rather flat tin, the focal length is short, so you get a really nice wide angle. Note that the straight lines are all perfectly straight - this is a cheap way to get an ultrawide rectilinear lens with no distortion.



    It's actually a paper negative. To make it into a positive, you can scan it into the computer and invert the colours, as well as laterally invert the image. Or you can make a contact print.

    Try this:

    http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/darkcam.htm
    http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/darkcam2.htm

    Here is the final result:


  9. #9

    Default Guide

    Terrific Guide!!!

  10. #10
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    now THIS is something i missed out!

    thanks SS!

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    Wow...I guess I missed this one too...
    A definite lil project for me in my free time...now must go find a dark room in my home...difficult thou...

    Thnx SS!!...

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    Robert has a nice series of pictures taken by his pinhole camera during his last heartlands exhibition last year

    Heartlands Exhibition


    Here are also some pictures taken during the heartlands exhibition...
    with Robert himself explaining to the visitors




  13. #13

    Default

    Thanks for the link. I had wanted to see the pictures but did not know they had been put online.

    Hmmm, must bring a tripod next time. All my pics so far just rest the camera on the ground.

  14. #14
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    Thnx Streetshooter for the guide...

    could we put this as a sticky somewhere 'cos I am quite sure a number of us would love to try this DIY device from time to time...


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    i taped a a piece of paper layered with gaffer over my dSLR mount, poked a hole in the center with a needle, and did a few long exposures. It worked, though getting the exposure right was trial and error. (And hey, digital helps! Instant feedback!)

    Just an idea for those with dSLRs and too lazy to mess with film development.

  16. #16

    Default latest issue of Grain

    i think the latest issue of Grain has two really interesting articles on pinhole photography too! one was done with a cheezals container and the other with a roast duck.

    read the issue. it's worth checking it out.

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    Can we make this a sticky?

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by yaoxing
    Can we make this a sticky?
    Nope I think it's too "niche" to be made a sticky. Otherwise the first page will be full of stickies. A search for "pinhole" will easily bring it up.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by StreetShooter
    Nope I think it's too "niche" to be made a sticky. Otherwise the first page will be full of stickies. A search for "pinhole" will easily bring it up.
    Thanks for the advice.

  20. #20

    Default

    thanks for sharing excellent guide
    36frames Wedding Photography - http://www.36frames.com
    rueyloon - http://www.rueyloon.com

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