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Pinhole Cameras on the Market

There are a wide range of pinhole cameras available on the market. They can be a useful guide to selecting appropriate sizes of focal length and pinhole size for making your own. Here is a selection grouped together by the size of the film/paper.

8″ x 10″ 

Zero 810, 80mm focal length, 0.35mm pinhole

Zero 810, 160mm focal length, 0.5mm pinhole

ONDU, 130mm focal length , 0.5mm pinhole

Lensless Camera Co. 150mm focal length, (pinhole dia unknown)

5″ x 7″

ONDU, 97mm focal length, 0.4mm pinhole

Lensless Camera Co. 125mm focal length, (pinhole dia unknown)

4″ x 5″

Ilford Obscura, 87mm focal length., 0.35mm pinhole

ONDU 65mm focal length, 0.35mm pinhole

Lensless Camera Co. 75mm focal length (pinhole dia unknown)

Harman Titan 72mm focal length, 0.35mm pinhole

120 Film, 2 3/8″ x 2 3/8″ 

Nopo 120, 35mm focal length, 0.25mm pinhole

ONDU 6×6 25mm focal length, 0.2mm pinhole

35mm film

Zero 135, 25mm focal length, 0.18mm pinhole

Lerouge 26mm focal length, 0.2mm pinhole

 

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Make your own Pinhole Camera

A brief guide to making your pinhole camera, taking your photo and developing it!

Not sure what pinhole photography is then read this

You will need:

General Materials: a light tight container, black paper or paint, aluminium foil black electrical insulating tape.

Tools:  a pin or a fine 0.3mm drill, knife/scissors/ paint brush, a measuring jug.

Darkroom:  Any room where you can successfully provide full blackout . A photographic darkroom safelight, 3 shallow trays a bucket of water and a length of chord and some clothes pegs to allow your prints to dry.

Photographic chemicals:  (https://www.silverprint.co.uk/) Harman Direct Positive paper, Neutol Eco Developer, Citiric acid, Adofix plus Fixative.

Optional extras: Pinhole Master for IOS  or Pocket Light Meter (iOS & Android)

Making your pinhole camera

1) Select a light tight box or tin

2) Use black paint or black paper to cover internal surfaces of container to minimise reflections.

3) Create your pinhole. If using a tin use a 0.3mm micro drill bit in a small hand held modelmakers drill. If using a cardboard box make a hole in a piece of aluminium foil with a pin or small needle. Then use black insulation tape to stick the aluminium foil over a small hole cut into the box.  ( NB after making your hole use a small piece of emery paper to remove any metal burr from the reverse side.

4) Make your exposure control using a small flap of cardboard using Black insulating tape as hinge and a separate piece to act as a means of securing your exposure flap in the closed position.

5) Choose how you will secure your photographic paper in the camera. It can be as simple as strips of self adhesive tape or use some card to make some retaining slots that you can slide your photographic paper into.

6) On our courses we have chosen to use Harman Direct positive paper. This is a black and white paper which avoids the need for an intermediate film negative. The ISO speed of the paper is about 1 to 3.

6) Go into your darkroom and using a low wattage photographic safelight put a single sheet of photographic paper into your camera. ( keep your paper at least 3feet from your safelight to avoid fogging the paper) Make sure that you put the paper in the right way round. (Most photographic papers have a glossy coating on the light sensitive side).

7) Before leaving the darkroom make sure that your exposure control flap is securely closed and the box is light tight. Use black insulating tape to seal up any opening edges.

Taking your pinhole photograph

1) Set up your pinhole camera so that it is pointing at the scene you wish to photograph. Avoid trying to hold it steady yourself as the exposure times are long and you will inevitably blur the image . The angle of view of your camera will depend on the shape of the box and in particular the size of the photographic paper and its distance from the pinhole. Once you have taken your first photo you will get an ida about how to arange your camera.  (The likelihood is that the pinhole camera will capture a much wider angle view than you at first anticipate )

2) Getting your exposure time right can be by

a) Trial and error!

b) Rule of thumb guides or

c) pinhole exposure apps.

Rule of thumb guides that come with Harman Direct positive paper suggest the following:

Bright sunshine  (summer) 1-2 minutes

Bright but not direct sunshine  3 minutes

Overcast (mixed sun/cloud) 5 minutes

Dull /Cloudy 6-10 minutes

Interior lighting1 hour

Pinhole exposure apps such as Pinhole Master (ios only) will require you to calculate your Camera’s aperture number . This is simply the focal length / pinhole diameter. The focal length is the distance from your pinhole to the photographic paper. ( where focal length is 45mm and the pinhole diameter is 0.3mm then the Aperture is 45/0.3 = 159. This is often expressed as  f/159.

Using this aperture figure and the ISO number of the paper (1-3) you can create a camera setting for your pinhole camera and then the app will be able to use your phones camera to take a reading of the brightness of your scene and give you a suggested exposure time a countdown timer to take the exposure and also log  the scene brightness imag , the date , time , exposure and the GPS co-ordinates !

3) Once exposure has completed.secure your exposure flap and take your camera back to the darkroom.

Developing your pinhole photograph

1) Set up your darkroom with 3 shallow trays ( Develop , Stop and Fix)  and a bucket of water!

2) Mix up your developer ( On our course we use Neutol Eco Developer ) This is diluted 1 part developer to 4 parts water . We find 100ml of developer and 400ml of water making 0.5litre of developing solution is a good amount.

3) Mix up your stop bath ( On our course we use Citric acid ) This is made up with 5g ( about 1 teaspoon) of citric acid powder to 500ml of water.

4) Mix up your fixative  ( On our course we use adofix plus ) This is diluted 1 part fixative to 9 parts water . We find 50ml of fixative and 450ml of water making 0.5litre of fixative solution is a good amount.

5) Under safelight conditions take the photographic paper out of your pinhole camera.

6) Place into Developer tray and gently agitate for 90 seconds. You will see the image begin to form after the first 10 seconds or so.

7) Remove paper and place into stop bath for 10 seconds.

8) Then transfer into fixative tray for 60 seconds.

9) Transfer to bucket to wash for several minutes and then allow to dry.

 

Read about the history of pinhole photography.

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A (very) brief history of pinhole photography

5th century B.C.

Chinese scholars discovered that light travels in straight lines. The philosopher Mo Ti recorded the formation of an inverted image with a pinhole.

1544

Drawing by the astronomer Gemma Frisus’ De Radio illustrating the principal of the pinhole camera. He used the pinhole in his darkened room to study a solar eclipse.

16th Century

Leonardo da Vinci  gave a clear description of the principals of the pinhole camera in his notebooks: “When the images of illuminated objects pass through a small round hole into a very dark room…you will see on paper all those objects in their natural shapes and colours.”

1822 to 1839

Development of the first light sensitive processes for capturing images . From Joseph Nic Ophore Niepce in 1822.to Sir John Hershel in 1839.

1850’s

Sir David Brewster is believed to make some of the first pinhole photographs. He wrote about it in the1850’s in his book “The Stereoscope” It was the first time that the word “pin-hole” was first coined.

1880’s

Flinders Petrie, a prominent archeologist took many pinhole photographs during his excavations in Egypt.

1890’s

Lowestoft born photographer George Davison exhibits “The onon field” a pinhole camera photograph in the 1890 exhibition of the Royal Photographic society . This led to a brief period of interest in the technique. Following a brief flourishing of the commercial production of pinhole cameras the technique largely disapeared in the early 20th century except for educational interest.

1960s

Several artists, unaware of each other, began experimenting with the pinhole technique – Paolo Gioli in Italy, Gottfried Jäger in Germany, David Lebe, Franco Salmoiraghi, Wiley Sanderson and Eric Renner in the USA.

1974

Jim Schull publishes “The Hole Thing: A Manual of Pinhole Photography a paperback book which popularised the technique and remains a valuable resource today.

2001

On the 29th of April the first World Pinhole photography day was held.

 

Read how to make your own pinhole camera

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Pinhole Photography | what it is | a brief guide

Pinhole Photography

Pinhole photography is the term used to describe photography executed without a lens. Instead it uses the camera obscura effect where an upside down mirror image is formed on a surface in a darkened space by light passing through a small pinhole from an external scene.

Film and photographic papers

Pinhole photography can be executed onto standard photochemical film which is then processed in the normal way and prints can then be made with an enlarger. However the ability to cheaply make large format pinhole cameras makes it suitable for the creation of images directly onto black and white photographic paper. With standard photographic paper the developed image will be a mirror and a negative image. This image can be reversed by taking a contact print using a second sheet of photographic paper. The end result will be a  positive image which is also the right way round. Alternatively you can use special direct positive photographic paper. This will result in a positive image in one exposure but it will however still be a mirror image.

Pinhole cameras

One of the best things about pinhole photography is that you don’t need an expensive camera, in fact you don’t need a camera at all ! A lightproof container , a pinhole and a sheet of photographic paper is all you need!. You can use any old box, paint tin , old wardrobe, garden shed or almost anything as a pinhole camera.

Photographic results

Exposures can be worked out (a bit) but mostly its a good amount of trial and error.  The photographs that you get from a pinhole camera are very governed by the size and geometry of the light proof container you have chosen, the pinhole size, the length of the exposure and the distance from the pinhole to the photographic paper. One thing you don’t have to worry about is focussing! No lens means no need to focus , everything is in focus, you have an infinite depth of field!

The crudeness and the visual distortions of the images are all part of the pleasure of pinhole photography, something to be embraced and exploited rather than something to try and design out. It is of course possible to adapt high end digital cameras to take pinhole images but it is perhaps missing the point. Pinhole photography is not just about the technical use of a very small hole rather than a lens to create an image. It is an invitation to embrace a fun low tech way of exploring how to create photographic images !

Read about Lowestoft’s own pinhole camera hero