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Thread: Tinhole Camera

  1. #1

    Tinhole Camera

    I call this the Tinhole Camera. It's a 35mm homemade pinhole camera made from a small rectangular tin box. The box holds a deck of playing cards and measures (roughly) 5 1/2" x 3" x 1 1/4". As luck would have it, it was a perfect size for this project.

    The pinhole (~f/128 ) is made into aluminum foil and taped to the inside of the box. There's a small hole in the back of the box as shown.

  2. #2

    Tinhole Camera

    I spent a lot of time thinking about a shutter. The pinhole size meant sunny day exposures of a second or less, so I needed something fast, but not too fast. "Keep it simple" turned out to be the winning strategy. I noticed that a flat refrigerator magnet stuck to the tin and also slid across it with little effort. I cut a hole in the magnet as shown and sanded down the jagged edges around the hole in the tin.

    I open and close the shutter by sliding the magnet from side to side. I did some counting exercises with a shutter speed tester that I have and found that I can repeatably simulate shutter speeds as fast as 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 (give or take a stop). For really long exposures, I just remove and replace the magnet.

  3. #3

    Tinhole Camera

    The inside of the tin is painted black. The frame is made from balsa wood also painted black. The pieces that support the film are covered in black fabric (I started with felt but it was too fuzzy and the fray showed up in the images). Straight pins hold the frame together (the white pinheads on the bottom side are visible in the picture). Dense foam, two pieces on top, one on the bottom, hold the frame firmly inside the tin. On the right you'll see a reshaped paper clip that serves as the film advance.

    The paper clip goes through the top of the tin, through the foam and the frame, and is bent such that it fits in the notch of the take-up spool as shown. The spool sits upside down in an empty cassette so that the film is held straight.

  4. #4

    Tinhole Camera

    Film is loaded on the left, with a piece of soft foam above to hold it in place. The leader is cut and the film is taped to the piece of film on the take-up spool. You'll see another little piece of dense foam under the take-up cassette to keep it from slipping down. It's more or less ready to go.

  5. #5

    Tinhole Camera

    The inside of the lid is also painted black. I cut, bent and taped a piece of developed film to the lid. This is the ticker.

    When the lid is replaced, the tapered edge aligns with the sprocket holes as shown, such that it audibly ticks as the film is advanced. Ten ticks advances to the next frame. I had to be careful to place the ticker as far away from the exposure area as possible, otherwise stray light reflects back onto the exposure (this is still a small problem under certain conditions). You'll see the tape and excess film sit behind the loaded film.

    This is a "version 2," and it works pretty well, but I'm always curious to hear feedback or suggestions for improvement. Thanks for looking!

  6. #6

    Tinhole Camera

    About 1/2 second exposure. Downtown Pittsburgh.

    Handheld! (~1/4 sec.)

  7. #7
    500+ Posts jon.oman's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    Summerville, SC, USA

    Tinhole Camera

    Wow! Cool camera that seems to work very well!

  8. #8

    Tinhole Camera

    That's a result Brian! Nice photo's.

  9. #9

    Tinhole Camera

    Very nice results, and fun camera. well done!

  10. #10

    Tinhole Camera

    Quote Originally Posted by 1563
    That's a result Brian! Nice photo's.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonoman
    Wow!**Cool camera that seems to work very well!
    What they said!

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