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Thread: Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

  1. #1

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    Hi all!
    I'm new here. I've been inspired by the discussions and all the photos of camera projects, especially these of Steven. I'm building my first analogue pinhole: an anamorphic camera. (I made a pinhole body cap for my digital reflex before. It works but I should clean the sensor...).

    I made the camera out of cardboard tube used for posters and large photos and some foamcore. And I collected bits and pieces at my local DIY shop. I'll post photos of the camera soon.

    I want to be able to use both 120 and 35mm film. At the moment, the camera can take 120 film spools. I have to make an extended film guide for 35mm and a sort of support platform for the 35mm canister.
    Thinking of that, I was wondering if 35mm film as a front side and a back side. I mean: does it matter how I put the film in the camera and which side of the film will be hit by light? Or does the emulsion have the same properties on both sides? With 120 film, it's easy, there's just paper on the back!

    Also, I didn't make the pinhole yet. How can I calculate what the size of the pinhole should be for an anamorphic camera?


  2. #2

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...


    For 35mm film you will have to have the emulsion facing the pinhole. i.e. the light hitting the emulsion side.

    If you make your camera for 120 film but with a little bit more space to take a 35mm can, you should be able to cut down and modify a 120 spool so you end up with two ends which fit into the top and bottom of the can so it will fit into a 120 holder. Just wind the film onto a 120 spool at the other end (you may need some guides to ensure it stays central). When you have finished, either wind it back into the 35mm can or use a darkroom or changing bag to cut the film and load it into a tank. I would go for the rewind mechanism myself as it gives you the option of sending the film for lab processing if you don't want to do it yourself.

    Unless you use a different mask, this will give you an image right up to the edges of the film. i.e. past the sprocket holes. This allows you to get a bit more image height (about 26mm instead of 24mm) and may confuse some processing labs.

    As for the pinhole size - I think this is the same for an anamorphic camera as for a normal camera as it is the rotating slit which determines the exposure (I'm not an expert on anamorphic cameras but there are many on this forum who are). Use the calculator on the home page here but be aware that a lot of people posting here have good results with smaller holes - about 2/3 to 3/4 of the calculated value.

    Hope this helps. Let us know how you get on


  3. #3

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    Thanks for your reply Steve!
    I need a clarification, however: how do I tell which side as the emulsion (and should get the light)? Is the emulsion lighter in color? So if I look at a film canister, the film spool should be away from me and then I actually look at the non-emulsion side?

    For the pinhole, I'm not that sure it's just the "normal" distance/size because the film is sort of parallel to the light/pinhole. Just like Steven's camera, here, my camera has (or will have) a pinhole in the lid.


  4. #4
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    When you pull 35 mm film out of the cannister, the emulsion is facing the inside of the roll. The film tends to curl toward the emulsion.

  5. #5
    Administrator Tom Persinger's Avatar
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    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    it'd be cool if we moved this over into the pinhole forum....
    (sadly, i can't move threads between forums)


  6. #6

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    Where is the pinhole forum? (I'm sure i want to check that one! )

  7. #7

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    I took a couple of photos of my camera. I attached them.

    The camera is more or less finished though it can't take 35mm film yet (I was too impatient to try it!). Also I'm not sure about what size of the pinhole should be. I gave it a try with 0.29mm.

    I shot a 120 film with it. The loading is quite tricky but probably I can get used to it. Then it's guessing how much the film should advance.
    I'm going to process the film myself (the first one! so I won't actually know if the camera is screwed up or the development... Or maybe it was at (camera-)loading time... Oh well ). I'm still missing some bits and pieces (like a thermometer) but I hope I can process the film on Sunday.

    Any clue about what size the pinhole should be of an anamorphic pinhole camera? Attached files

  8. #8

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    Good work so far. It's always exciting to test a new gadget, so get developing as soon as possible. Unless you have a serious light leak, or exposed the film to light during loading/unloading, you will almost certainly get something on the film!

    Several formulas for optimum pinhole size exists. One of the simples is to take the square root of the projection distance (measured in mm) and divide by 25. For an anamorphic camera the projection distance could be the distance from the pinhole to the centerline of the film. This would at least get you started. From then on it's a matter of preference.

    As for the pinhole forum: Go to the top of the page you are reading right now, and select "pinhole forum" (between "f259 home" and "DIY Forum"). Post your first pinhole images there!

  9. #9

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    nice work, ilona! the camera looks great, anyway, and should work. the hardest part for me was getting the film to advance smoothly through the openings. the pinhole i used was approximated for a focal length measured to the vertical center of the film. i counted turns on a sacrificed roll of film to find out how many turns advance a frame. for me, it worked out to 5 turns from start to the first, then 4 turns per frame (total of 4), then rewind.

    i found it easier to make a second anamorphic camera for 35mm, because of the friction issues. i tape the canister leader to a second canister (emulsion side taped to non-emulsion side) and use winding stems from junk-store cameras to advance and rewind the canisters. the emulsion is the less shiny side, and in the dark will stick to a damp fingertip.

  10. #10

    Building an anamorphic pinhole camera...

    also, regarding cleaning your dslr, be extremely careful what method and materials you use. i bought special pads and solution online, and use a cut-down spatula wrapped in the pads as a tool. mine needs to be cleaned weekly, because the tiny aperture causes the dust to show, and the switching between pinhole and zone plate lets more dust enter . DON'T blow on the sensor, except maybe with a clean bulb blower, and even that will probably just move the dust around.

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