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Thread: 135 Format Pinhole Camera?

  1. #1

    135 Format Pinhole Camera?

    This might sound strange, but as long as I've been involved in pinhole photography, I've hardly ever used 35mm film.

    I once used a Minolta X370, and have recently examined several older manual SLR cameras for conversion to pinhole, but my issue is that I desire a wide angle of view, which an SLR mirror box prevents implementing.

    I suspect an older curtain shutter rangefinder camera would work, since there's no mirror involved and hence the pinhole could be located much closer to the shutter, plus the optical viewfinder would be helpful for composition.

    I've admired the cardboard matchbox-style cameras, but having to retape a new film roll every time you reload seems a bit fiddly.

    There's also the Holga 135 pinhole camera, but it costs more than a 120 version.

    I'd like to see someone build a very small, high quality wooden 35mm pinhole camera with wide angle of view and a clicker-like device for film advance. Not sure if I want to take up the challenge.

    Doing Internet searches, there aren't too many options for pre-manufactured pinhole camera meeting all of these requirements, unless I want to pay what I consider way too much for the Holga.

    What do you guys think? Is there such a camera out there?

    "There was just that moment and now there's this moment and in between there is nothing. Photography, in a way, is the negation of chronology."-Geoff Dyer, "The Ongoing Moment"
    My Writing Blog: Joe Van Cleave's Blog
    My Pinhole Blog: Obscure Camera
    Visit my F295 Gallery

  2. #2
    an old curtain shutter rangefinder cameras are good for pinhole conversion. Russian cameras like Kiev or Zorka are very cheap (20-30$) and i think that quality will be fine. You can also use hot shoe mounted viewfinders. Focal length will be around 28-30mm.
    I made myself some 135 format pinholes- here is panoramic versio ( 24x65mm frame size, 0,2mm pinhole, 15 clicks per frame). Clicker is attached directly to film canister:

  3. #3
    500+ Posts dvoracek's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
    For me, the Populist works exactly like you describe, except it's not made from wood. It only requires retaping the end of film to the take up reel when you reload and I've been using the same piece of tape for that for a couple years.

    What do you mean wide angle? I've always thought 24mm was fairly wide angle, but I know somebody (Henry?) made one with the pinhole inset for a wider angle.

    The original description is still at, except I've made some improvements like a better shutter and a winder minder that I think makes it much more usable that I should add to that description.

  4. #4
    I hear you joe. I once hacked a vivitar ultra wide and slim (a cheap cheap 35mm plastic lensed compact) into a pinhole and managed a 12mm focal length. I was impressed with the quality obtainable but the camera didn't last long. I may well take up the challenge at some point...
    A couple of examples from the 12mm (0.15mm Ph)..

    Untitled by RealitySoSubtle, on Flickr

    12mm pinhole test by RealitySoSubtle, on Flickr
    Last edited by Jimmy G; 05-30-2014 at 03:19 PM.

  5. #5
    500+ Posts Ned.Lewis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Sonoma County, California
    I've never made a pinhole image on film, except for instant film which isn't the same thing at all. On a recent vacation, it would have been nice to have a film pinhole camera. If I make one it will most likely be for 120, but I can see the attraction of 35mm!
    Some photos: Ipernity
    ( pinholes and solargraphs mixed in among the rest)

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    The second image is great.What is with first image?.Please tell me who made you hole for this camera?or maybe is laser made hole?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by fago View Post
    The second image is great.What is with first image?.Please tell me who made you hole for this camera?or maybe is laser made hole?
    Fago, hole is a EMS 0.15mm courtesy of Earl, the ems dealer...sssshhh!
    That first one is a double exposure, 1 of me driving taken from the instrument panel and 1 in the garden.

  8. #8
    There's a camera maker in France named Philippe Leclerc, who started putting pinhole cameras up on eBay in both 120 and 35mm format a little while back. They're nice cameras -- I've used the 120 and I recently picked up a 35mm panoramic that went begging. I felt a little guilty for winning on such a low bid. I think Philippe has learned his lesson, as his listings are now all in the BuyItNow format. He makes a teeny-tiny 35mm pinhole that looks pretty cool. He has one currently up on the auction site:

    It's not cheap -- more than the 35mm Holga, for sure, but much nicer looking. If nothing else, it might give you some ideas.
    See my photos at:

  9. #9
    500+ Posts
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    České Budějovice, Czech Republic
    Hi Joe,

    although they would not comply with your "wooden" requirement, I have recently experimented with two 135-format pinhole cameras with 18 mm image distance. (Vega has been originally 30 mm, then 24 mm, now 18 mm. The Pinox is 18 mm.) I sort of like the 90 degrees angle of view.
    Both of them are modified cameras since I do not have much access to a workshop where I could build some wooden artifact, and I did not want to be bothered by building any kind of a frame counter. So I used already-made things. You can see the cameras here: (Druopta Vega nad Pinox), some results are here:

    Originally, I did not believe in 135 format in pinhole realm because of (lack of) sharpness, but renon's work here convinced me that it is worth trying. Now, I carry the Pinox almost everywhere I go and it gives me more freedom in experimenting. I do _never_ measure the exposure (fortunately, color negative film is quite forgiving), and the cost per frame ratio does not discourage me from trying.

    Good luck with yours 135-format pinhole!

    The world is not black and white. It often looks good in grayscale, though.

  10. #10
    I haven't tried this, but an Argus C3 could take a 26mm focal length pinhole mounted behind the shutter. Some SLRs with the mirror box removed should do as well or perhaps better. A special purpose 35mm Zeiss with a focal plane shutter and a wide lens throat permitted me to mount a 16mm pinhole deeply recessed into the body. Handheld exposures were possible with ASA 3200 film.

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