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Thread: Hello, new member and new to pinholes.

  1. #1
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    Hello, new member and new to pinholes.

    Hi all, just saying hello and introducing myself. I've been lurking for a while but wanted to wait til I had something to share before joining the forum.

    I just started playing with pinhole cameras a few weeks ago after remembering how much fun I had years ago on the few occasions in the past I got to develop my own film. I looked at doing this again and was considering the Diana/Holga route then decided instead to make my own camera and develop my own negatives. To be honest I was never a great photographer but I am good at creating things so making my own camera definitely appealed. And I enjoy the chemistry aspects of it. The science and art of getting an actual image.

    The first I made was from foam core. Just to see if I could get any kind of image. I chose 120 film since my aim is to make contact prints eventually. This was a simple box, hand made pinhole and a simple paper shutter. It actually worked! Once I got my head around developing. I was using Shanghai GP3 film. Cheapest I could find for initial tests. Unfortunately it doesn't appear in the massive dev chart for the developer I am using (Ultrafin liquid) so my developing was somewhat hit and miss.

    Given that worked I decided to build a better, second camera. I bought a NOS Mamiya RB67 220 back cheaply to use as the film mechanism. I had to replace the seals but a kit from Jon Goodman sorted that out (and as all the comments around the Internet say he is definitely the person to deal with for such things). I got hold of some disposable cameras for free from the local processing places. After removing the film and batteries they throw away the rest and will usually give them to you if you ask. I got six of them in one visit.

    I pulled those apart and from a Kodak camera got several usable shutter mechanisms. The lens I remove. I made my own pinhole from shim brass and a beading needle. I use a microscope to see how clean the pinhole is and to get some idea of the size. I modified the shutter a little to make it operate from a cable release. I then made a box from thin ply wood. Small aluminium brackets clamp it to the Mamiya back. I made my own tripod mounts from some suitable 1/4 inch nuts from the brass junk box. The insides is painted matt black and a piece of felt forms the light seal between camera and back.

    I am using 120 film in the 220 back but as far as I can find out this is fine. The only issue is the frame counter goes up higher than the number of shots I get. I have also upgraded to using a better film, Fuji Acros 100. Knowing how to develop it is helping a lot! I bought a tiny tripod to mount the camera on and plan on making my own, larger wooden one. I managed to get the timber for that at an excellent price as the chap at the timber yard was most interested in my project and professed to being a secret geek himself so he gave me a special deal!

    Anyway, this is how the camera came out. I get 10 full shots from a roll of film. The shutter is probably the most interesting part. The pinhole is perhaps a little small for the focal length I am using (according to the pinhole calculators around).

    IMG_0515_1.jpg IMG_0514_1.jpg

    This is it on the little tripod which had proved to be most useful. It's a little Slik Mini 2. Cheap and handy.

    IMG_2914_1.jpg

    And here are a couple of test shots I took in my back garden.

    p51.jpg DB5.jpg

    Actually they were at an airshow on Saturday. Unfortunately I am not yet making my own prints so these were scanned on a flat bed scanner which is not ideal. The negatives are much nicer. My scanner causes a lot of blurring and I have to tweak the levels a little to get the images right.

    Still, I am getting better. As I say I was never a great photographer although I do enjoy it. I am working on an Arduino based light meter and an toying with the idea of making an automatic pinhole where the Ardunio can measure the light and operate the shutter for the correct exposure. I will also look at making contact prints soon too once I work out making my bathroom into a dark room.

    I have a blog where I tend to document my (many and varied) projects and more information about the camera and how I made it is there.

    Simon

  2. #2
    500+ Posts Isis's Avatar
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    Welcome to f295 Simon, you certianly have gone to a lot of work building that camera. But like a lot of us that's half the fun. As for developing Shanghai GP3, treat it as Ilford FP4+ and you won't go far wrong.
    Regards Shane
    - Suggestions on how to improve image always welcome
    http://www.ipernity.com/home/isisford/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/isisford/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isis View Post
    Welcome to f295 Simon, you certianly have gone to a lot of work building that camera. But like a lot of us that's half the fun. As for developing Shanghai GP3, treat it as Ilford FP4+ and you won't go far wrong.
    Hi Shane, I am definitely better at making things than making interesting pictures! I did see somewhere that Shanghai GP3 was supposed to work like the FP4+ but I still couldn't get it developed correctly. In the end I was starting to get OK results with a 1 + 20 developer mix and about 20 minutes. I have run out of that film now and can't easily get more and am finding the Fuji Acros much better (if pricier) so will continue with that. Thanks!

    Simon

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