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Pinhole Camera – 2nd Roll of Film

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Unfortunately my 2nd roll of film with the pinhole camera didn’t go as well as the first. 

The kit came with two premade pinholes; one a .2mm hole, the other .15mm.  The first roll of film I shot with the .2mm and did fairly well.  I decided to go with the .15mm pinhole for my second roll of film and it didn’t work out as well.  Most shots ended up being under exposed.  So if I’m going to keep shooting with that I need to leave the shutter open longer and/or use a different speed film. 

A few shots did turn out reasonable well though, three of which are below.  All of these are of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in central PA.  The film is Fujifilm 200 and I was using a tripod for each.  The first had an exposure time of about half a second, the other two were about 3 seconds each.

I was a little disappointed in how this roll turned out, but oh well, it’s a learning process.  At least I got a few usable images out of it, and I had a lot of fun in the process.

I’m not sure which direction I’m going to go next.  I still have some rolls of 200 speed film on hand, so I might switch back to the .2mm pinhole and just shoot some more.  I also was thinking of either picking up some high-speed or black and white film and trying some different things out with it.  We shall see.

In any case, I’m having about as much fun shooting with this thing as I’ve ever had taking pictures, at least in recent memory.  It really isn’t hard to do, and whether you decide to buy a kit or transform an old camera, it isn’t very difficult or expensive.  I really recommend giving it a shot if you’re at all interested.


Written by Jim

January 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Pinhole Camera: 1st Roll of Film

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It didn’t take me long to fill the first roll of film with the Pinhole Camera I put together. I was very excited to shoot with it and to see the results so I didn’t waste any time. 

All of the following pictures were scanned in from that first roll of film. The film was Fujifilm ISO 200. Scanning the prints adds in extra noise, and dust spots and blemishes show up more, so the actual prints are a bit crisper and look better than these. 

1st shot taken with the camera:
Shutter was open for about 7 minutes

These next few were all taken in the countryside around where I work over a lunch break. Exposure time was about half a second for each.

(I realize this isn’t that great of a picture, I just like how it looks)

These last two were at a small cemetery in the town I live in.  Exposure time was about three seconds each.

Overall, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. I was preparing myself for none of them even turning out, or being awful at best, but the quality of these few is better than I could have hoped. I have a lot to learn yet but I think it’s a good start. For the record, I managed to get 18 shots out of a roll of 24 exposure film. Of those, the eight posted here are the best, and of the rest, four were unidentifiable and the rest just not that good. So like I said, I have a lot to learn.

I’m really excited to shoot more with this little camera and think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.

Written by Jim

December 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Pinhole Camera

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One of the gifts I received for Christmas this year was an awesome Pinhole Camera kit, given to me by my awesome sister.

I’ve heard of people making these on their own or for school before, but never had an opportunity to myself.  I didn’t even know they made kits like this.  I was really excited to receive it and put it together.  Following is a write-up with some pictures of the assembly process.

The camera is basically made of cardboard:

The pieces are punched out of these sheets and glued together.  There were very detailed instructions explaining the steps.  Everything needed was in the kit except for glue, binder clips to hold things together while glue dried, a piece of sand paper, a cutting instrument, and some rubber bands.  Oh, film isn’t included either.

The first step was putting together the internal divider. This will go inside the camera body to separate it into compartments.

Here it’s being held together with binder clips while the glue dries (note my wife’s taste in colorful office supplies).  I might as well point out here, that most of the time was spent waiting for glue to dry.  It took me two evenings to put everything together, but probably 75% of the time was waiting for glue to dry.  It could easily be done in an hour or two if glue drying wasn’t part of the equation.

Next step was to put together the shutter.  It’s basically a piece of cardboard that you manually slide up and down.  Here it is drying; it’s actually upside down in this pic.  The open square doubles as the view finder and handle for operating it. You’ll see what I mean later when it’s installed on the camera.

This was the housing that it gets fitted into.

Around this point I suffered my first cut. It was just a small one and the only one I got through the whole process.  Pretty good for me!

Next the back half of the camera body was put together and glued.

Nifty exposure guide on the back.

Then the front half of the body was put together.

You can see the shutter assembly glued to the camera face in the image above. This was my first of three mistakes; it’s crooked.  Everything was flat and lined up when I glued it on, but you had to put something heavy on top to hold it in place while the glue dried.  I set a telephone book on it (knew there was still a use for that thing!) and I guess it moved the shutter housing a bit when I set it on.  I don’t think the camera will be less functional like this, it just looks shoddy.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the front, now folded and glued into shape.

Ari kept hopping up on the other chair and checking to see how I was doing. (he’s a hard guy to get a good shot of!)

Next the external corners of the body were taped to be sure no light could sneak in.

With everything dry and taped, the inside of the camera could be put together. The divider from step one gets glued into place.

Some more tape is added to inside edges to keep light in check.

Finally, here is a shot of the inside all put together.  On the bottom you can see a block of wood added – this has a nut in it that serves as the tripod mount.  The center now contains the pinhole as well.

I apologize, but somehow I completely missed taking pictures of the pinholes and how they were made.  The kit provided a couple of them, they’re thin squares of brass with a tiny hole already made in the center.  In the center section of the camera you can see a tiny spec, this is actually the pinhole, or to be correct, brass around the pinhole that isn’t quite covered by cardboard or tape.  There were two different pre-made sizes, and another blank for making your own.  It gets taped to another piece of cardboard that slides into the center section.  Sorry for missing shots of this.

And here’s a picture from the front.  You can see the pinhole in this picture too; it reveals my second mistake – it’s not centered in the square where it should be. I simply don’t know how this happened.  No matter how I re-positioned it I couldn’t get it to center.  It’s maybe half a millimeter high and to the right (as pictured) of where it should be.  I don’t know how much this will impact images, I won’t be surprised if the top of them is cut off come development.

All that’s left is to add winders and film!

The winders are made from little pieces of wood, notched on one end to fit inside of and turn the film canisters, and some cardboard wheels and labels.

And here’s a look at film being started.  The end of the roll is taped to a receiving spool that fits inside a canister (supplied in kit).

(I actually had to un-tape this and do it again, with the film sitting flat against the bottom of the spool.)

The spool then slides into the canister, the canister is closed, then it and the roll of film get fit into the front half of the camera body.

Oh, and just to note, the kit recommended starting using 200 speed film.  I usually shoot with it in my SLR, so it works for me!

And with that, the back can be slid on, the winders put in place, and you’re done!

The instructions also recommended adding rubber bands to hold it together tightly. The biggest fear is letting light in.

I really glossed over a lot, even though this is so long.  I should have done better at showing how some things were put together and how the camera works but I wasn’t overly concerned with documenting everything while I was making it.  I’ll also say that the camera pictured throughout the instruction booklet didn’t look perfect.  Mine definitely isn’t as nice, but there were noticeable flaws, the fitment wasn’t perfect, and you could just tell the one used for illustrations was put together by hand too and it’s probably close to impossible to have it looking pristine till it’s done.  So I don’t feel too bad about mine.

Overall it was very fun and not overly challenging to put this together.  The kit also contains a thick book showing different types of cameras, photos taken with them and instructions for operating, metering and judging how long to leave the shutter open.  I think there are even instructions for making other types of pinhole cameras.

I’ve taken just one shot with it so far.  Operating this little light camera will definitely take some getting used to, but I’m really looking forward to it and am hoping and praying that some of my shots turn out.  I forgot to cut off a little dab of hardened glue (mistake #3) on the inside that could potentially rub against the film; I hope it doesn’t damage anything.  I’ll post another blog whenever I get the roll shot and developed.

Written by Jim

December 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm