What Is A Pinhole Camera? What Do I Need To Make My Own?
First and foremost, a pinhole camera is basically a can or a box with a very tiny hole in the center of one of the ends. The interior of the camera is completely black. On the other side of the camera (the side without the pinhole) is a flat surface where the film is held. There is also a cover that goes over the pinhole to prevent any light from getting into the camera.
There are two main ways to make your own pinhole camera. The easiest, which I will explain here is to use a can with a tight-fitting lid (such as a coffee can). If you don’t drink enough coffee to warrant having a 2 pound coffee can lying around, you can also use a paint can, or even a cylindrical oatmeal box. Most of these cans have a plastic lid which you will want to make sure to paint black. Go to a local art shop or hardware store to find the blackest paint that you can. You’ll also need a #10 sewing needle to poke the hole.
Starting The Process
First, paint the lid of the can. Before you use the lid, make sure that every spot is covered and no paint has peeled or chipped off as it will ruin the film. You’ll also want to check periodically to make sure the paint is still intact. On the inside, you can either paint with a dull black color or line the inside with black paper so that there’s no reflection given off.
To make the pinhole, use the side that is not removable. When using a pinhole camera it’s much easier to attach the film to the removable end of the camera. For a camera with the film that ends up being three to six inches from the pinhole, a good size for the hole is about 1/75 inches. The hole can either be made into the can itself, or you could make a bigger hole in the can. If you decide to make a bigger hole in the can (as a sewing needle may be a bit hard to poke through a coffee can) you’ll want to make the hole about ¼ inch. You can actually use a piece of thick black paper to poke the 1/75 inch hole into and then fasten that paper over the larger hole in the can.
The needle should be poked through halfway, and it’s best to rotate the needle as you push it through to make the hole smoother. You can also use different needle sizes and experiment with the photos to see what size you think works best. After you’ve got that complete, look through the camera at a poster or newspaper to make sure that the image is clearly visible. If not, you may have to sand the edges with a piece of sandpaper.
Adding The Shutter and Viewfinder
Loading Your Camera
Exposures and Times
In order to have clear, crisp photos you will need to keep the camera very still while the shutter is open. You can tape the camera down to a table, or use a bit of clay to hold it in place. Once the camera is secure, lift the black paper over the pinhole and leave it open for the approximate time by calculating the F number. This is done by dividing the distance from the pinhole to the photo paper by the diameter of the pinhole.