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You can produce a working camera with simple materials~

scissors, and needle

Materials (above) include

cork, #10 needle,

paper, aluminum foil.

Push needle through

cork (left). Sandwich

foil between sheets of

paper. Place combination

(below) on soft

wood; press with cork.

How to make the pinhole

you don't know what you're

missing if you've never made a

pinhole camera and taken pictures

with it. Not only do you get a sense

of accomplishment from taking photographs

with such simple equipment-a

cardboard box with a hole

in it-but the kinds of good pictures

you can take are almost unlimited.

Anybody can make one of these

fascinating devices. All you need is

some cardboard, black photographic

tape, India ink, scissors or an Exacto

knife, a piece of aluminum foil, and

a fine needle. You can follow the

simple plans we have supplied or

you can design a camera of your

own once you understand the principles

on which it operates.

Physically, the camera is made up

of two cardboard boxes. (A more

complex pinhole camera will have

three boxes.) Each box has an open

end, and one box is slightly smaller

than the other so that both can fit

Construction plan for a simple one-shot camera

Plan (left) for making 4x5 oneshot

sheet-film pinhole camera.

When working on hinged back,

paste base tracks (see crosssection

drawing) 41;\6 inches

apart. Wider tracks (A) that

hold film in place are pasted

over base tracks. Key to detail

of front: (B) square cardboard

cutout holding almninum foil

to front, (C) foil, (D) pinhole,

(E) cardboard flap used as shutter,

(F) front of camera. Pictures

(right) show assembled

parts and complete camera. 1.

Hinged back open on camera

front (left), camerl). back (right).

2. Rubber band holds shutterflap

up and front and back together.

3. Shutter flap openfor exposure.

46 ...

Photographs by Joseph Foldes

You c:an make either a wide-angle or telephoto pinhole camera. Area covered depends on film-to-pinhole distance. Both pictures were

made from same position; left, picture made on camera with pinhole 8Y2 inches from film, and right, shot with pinhole 3 inches from film.

Here's the completed camera

1 2 3


together forming a light-tight unit.

The front, smaller box, has a small

hole in it which acts as the lens. A

piece of film is placed inside the

back of the rear box either by using

tape or the more elaborate slot system.

(Loading must be done in

complete darkness, of course.)

How does the pinhole act as a

lens? Theoretically, t~le pinhole is

so small that it admits only one ray

of light from any given point on

objects in front of the camera. Light

rays enter the pinhole from all

points and form an image on the inside

of the camera. The sharpness

of the image depends on the size of

the hole. The smaller the hole

(aperture), the sharper the image.

First, let's consider plans for making

two types of pinhole camerasthe

simple one-shot, and the sheetfilm-type

camera, and second, how to

take indoor and outdoor pictures

with them.

(If you own a press-type camera

and don't want to go to the trouble

of making the box, you can turn this

camera into a pinhole type by substituting

for the lens a piece of

aluminum foil with a pinhole in it.

The foil can be fastened over the

opening on the front standard of the

camera with black photographic

tape to insure against light leaks.)

A plan for the simple one-shot

camera appears on page 46. ''''ith

this camera only one picture can be

taken during a shooting session. The

photographer using this pinhole

camera must go into the darkroom

or use a loading bag to unload and

reload before making another shot.

The hinged back allows for easy

loading of sheet film, and is extra

protection against light leaks.

Once you have cut out the pieces

of cardboard, blackened them on

the inside with diluted India ink,

and assembled them into box form,

you are (Continued on page go)

How to build a pinhole camera for use with film packs

Pinhole camera with film pack

back allows photographer to shoot

more than one negative during a

session without running to darkroom.

Three boxes (right) must

be constructed. Inner box fits

into back (illustrated opposite

page). Front fits over these boxes.

String or rubber band holds

wlits together. Pinhole is made

as illustrated on page 46 and

taped inside the front box.

Inner Box Back Front


Only your imagination

limits types of

pictures you can make

Ac:tion pic:ture made with pinhole

camera and 2 speedlights

placed within 18 inches of subject.

Kodak Super Panchro-Press

Type B film was forced in DK-50

at 68 degrees for 25 minutes.

Outdoor portrait was made with

a 16-second exposure. The

model leaned motionless on rock.


Still life was made with two

#2 photofioods, 3 - feet from objects,

and 60-second exposure.

Make a Pinhole Camera

(Continued jrompage 48)

ready to make your "lens." The pinhole

itself is made in a small square piece of

aluminum foil, the kind used around

kitchens. (See page 46 for step-by-step

illustrations.) Place the aluminum foil between

two pieces of smooth writing paper

and then put this "sandwich" on a soft

wood support. A drawing board is good.

Now, using a #10 sewing needle, push the

needle through the combination. This will

leave a hole about 1/100 inch in diameter.

(The needle can be pushed through a

cork first so that you don't accidentally

make a bigger hole than you need when

pressing down on the paper and foil.)

Remove the aluminum foil carefully

from between the papers and tape it

over the opening in the cardboard on

the front end of your pinhole camera.

A heavy rubber band can be used to

keep the front and back sections of the

camera together. Remember, all loading

or unloading must be done under darkness

of a loading bag or a darkroom when

using this single-shot camera.

A step beyond the simple one-shot

pinhole camera is the film-pack pinhole.

Extra effort is required to make this

unit, but it pays off. The photographer

with a sheet-film-pack pinhole has 12

times the shooting power of his fellow

photographer who has a single-shot camera.

The "pack" pinhole allows several

different exposures or test exposures to

be made of a scene with only the pull of

the black tabs in the pack. (Plans for

"pack" pinhole are on pages 48-49.)

Extreme care must be taken when

working on the film-pack back of the

camera. If you use the plans given here,

a piece of heavy black velvet should be

attached to the outer, front side of the

back slot in the pack. The cloth will

make the back light-tight.

A few "do's" to remember while working

on either of the cameras: paint the

inside surfaces of your camera with diluted

India ink to insure that stray light

rays are not reflected inside the camera.

Check the edges and corners of the

camera for light leaks. Seal any leaks

with pieces of black photographic tape.

Cut pieces for the camera with great

care so parts will fit together well.

Here's what makes a picture:

FILM: Since pinhole apertures vary

from about f/192 to f/384, you should

use a fast panchromatic film in order to

be able to give shorter exposures. Color

pictures can be made also with pinhole

cameras. In color work, only tests will

give you an idea of how to expose properly,

and what filters to use.

EXPOSURE: For a pinhole camera

which has a "lens" made with a #10

needle, and placed 5 inches from a fast

panchromatic film, the following exposures

might serve as a guide: (For best

results run exposure tests. Shoot several

shots, varying the time on each.

Develop normally and choose the best

negative for a standard of exposure.)

Bright subject in full sunlight, 8 seconds,

under thin clouds, 20 seconds: Average

subjects, in full sunlight 16 seconds,

under thin clouds, 40 seconds. Dark

subjects, under full sunlight, 40 seconds,

under thin clouds, 100 seconds. Indoors

use two #2 photo-flood lamps, one on

each side of the subject, pointed at it

from 3 feet away. Expose 1 minute.

PROCESSING: It is best to develop

film by inspection. However, the above

exposure guides are based on development

in Kodak Dektol, diluted one part

stock solution to three parts water, for

4 min at 68-degrees F with agitation.

VIEWFINDER: The most common way

of judging what areas will be included

in a picture made by a pinhole camera

is to sight from the center, back part of

the camera, at eye level, using the front

corners of the camera to designate the

right and left hand limits of the picture.

By holding your hand about 4 or 5

inches above the front section (this depends

on whether you're taking a

vertical or horizontal picture with your

4x5 camera), you can get an approximate

idea of your coverage.

FOCUSING: Since the "lens" opening

is somewhere within a few points on

either side of f/200, you need not worry

about focusing. Your picture will be as

sharp in foreground as background.

IMAGE SIZE: This depends primarily

on the distance of the film from the pinhole.

If the pinhole is 3 inches from a

4x5 piece of film it will produce a wideangle

effect. Using the sam~ film, but

moving the .pinhole 5 inches away, you

will get a view that could be classified

as "normal." Using the pinhole beyond

the normal focal length for 4x5 film will

start producing a telephoto effect. You

must remember that as you increase the

focal length of your pinhole camera, that

you are increasing the time of exposure

also. If on a pinhole camera with a

5-inch focal length the exposure in

bright sunlight is 16 seconds, the exposure

for a pinhole camera 10 inches

long will be slightly more than 4 times,

or about 70 seconds. For extra long pinhole

cameras it is best to run exposure


SHUTTER: Since most pinhole exposures

are long, a cardboard piece

hinged over the front of the pinhole

camera can act as a shutter. It is operated

manually. With flash, electronic or

flash bulbs, the duration of the light acts

as the shutter. The open-flash system is

used when working with flash. Open the

shutter, fire, and then close it.-I!!!

August. 1954

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