Tips to Create a Cheap Pinhole Camera

Written by Michael Gonzales Monday, 13 December 2010 15:59

Pinhole cameras are probably the best and cheapest cameras available in the sense that they will capture detailed photographs while only costing you a few bucks in items. I'm going to go over the process for creating a pinhole camera, including materials, assembly, and use.

Instructions :

First, gather your items. The item I used for my pinhole was a Pringles cylinder. You can look for a handful of other items to use for this, but you have to make sure that it's secure and light proof (if the box bends easy, don't use it. SHOE BOXES = NO NO). When you have your item, you're going to cut a square into it with Box Cutters. Make note of its size, as you'll want to center your Aperture in it. The hole can be maybe an inch at the most on each side. The whole is best cut in a square shape.

Now, when you have your box or cylinder cut to perfection, spray paint it. Be it on the outside or the inside (but be careful about spraying the inside. If spray paint flickers off while capturing a picture, and it lands onto the photo paper, it shows up as this un-removable spec of dust. Let the spray paint dry up nicely, and then move onto the next process.

At this point, you can work on your aperture. Make sure that the aperture you cut out is bigger than the square you cut in your box. Take the aluminum can, and cut a rectangular shape out of it. It's probably a good idea to get some sand paper at this point. Use a thumb tack to "drill" a whole VERY gently at the center of the aluminum. You'll want to go over it several times from both sides, but refrain from making the hole large. Smooth the hole over with sandpaper, so you can smooth down any entry or exit holes (which might show up in the picture). When you're sure you've gotten a good aperture, go ahead and get your hopefully-dried-up camera. Tape the aperture to the camera, doing your best to center the hole in your aperture to the hole in the camera. Use electric tape. It's also advised that you cover the aperture with a simple line of electric tape. Easiest method there is.

Now, hopefully your camera is light proof. You can light test it by putting photo paper in it on the opposite side of the aperture (be careful for glossy paper. It can reflect light). The best way to light test it is to simply keep the aperture closed after you loaded paper into it (be sure you loaded the paper in the Dark Room or someplace where the photo paper won't get exposed). The light proof paper, which I used a sleeve that the photograph came in, needs to be sealed on the top of your camera, where the lid is. You can just wrap it around and use a rubber band to seal it. Don't worry about sealing the whole thing, you're just going to take it off later. Beware of flaps from it though, if it gets in the way of the aperture, it shows up in your picture.

Now, time for the light test. Take your 100% sealed camera, with photo paper, and leave it in front of a sun lamp, or the sun itself for about 5 minutes. Then, go develop the film in the dark room. If, while developing, grey or black streaks show up, than your camera isn't light proof. I had this issue in mine where it wasn't light proof after 2 tests, so I just used all my electric tape to tape it to death. It then became light proof. You don't quite have to go that far to light proof it, but you do want it light proof. When you have it light proof, and light proof tested, you're ready to take a picture. Note that the size of your camera effects how long you leave it in an area. Some larger pinholes require more time. Smaller ones require less. Try to keep your camera on the opposite side of the sun. If it's bright out, it's best to only take a 20 second or so photograph. If, when you develop it, it comes out detailed and perfect, you now have a time to go by in which light for your camera. If it's too dark, than you need to shorten your exposure time. If it's too light, you need to elongate your exposure time. Moving object won't show up in the picture (or they show up as a vague blue).

Resource :

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  • Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 16:38