Home Made Camera: Results!!!

Posted 2009.10.10 23.15 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Today I had the opportunity to take some photographs with my home-made pinhole camera. It was a lot of fun, and some anxiety and excitement about what would come of it. I also found some definite issues that need addressing before I try another roll.

First, just relying on friction to hold the back in place was a Bad Idea. Very quickly the back was loose and I had to hold the camera carefully when moving it, to keep the back from coming off. Second – though fortunately not till I was finished – the tripod mount came out so I have to do some work on that to re-attach it more securely. And finally, my ‘shutter’ is too stiff. More of a darkslide than a shutter – I found I had to keep a finger over the pinhole, open the ‘shutter’, then remove my finger for the exposure. Then cover up with a finger again while I wrestled with the ‘shutter’.

But enough about the problems – what of the pictures? As soon as I got home tonight, I got to work. Nervously processing the film, double-checking to make sure I didn’t make a dumb mistake like putting the fixer in before the developer. When the fixing was finished, I couldn’t wait to open the tank and peek in while the rinsing was going on. There were images! As soon as the rinse was done I pulled the film out and looked at it – there were 12 images! I could see at once some were over-exposed, some were under-exposed. But pictures! My home-made camera made images! OMG OMG OMG!

Check them out:

All my outdoor exposures were about 5 seconds which was about twice as long as they should have been. When I scanned the negs, I adjusted the density to compensate. The indoor shot worked out really well as-is.

I must admit, I’m totally chuffed with the results. The biggest image problem is with the felt that helps move the film smoothly – I forgot to trim it after it was in place. So the image frame is all funky shaped and every image has a blob of felt fiber in the top-left corner where a big tuft of felt was sticking out.


  1. Leanne says:

    Those are wicked! I look like a ghost!!! hahaha The one of the Creelman Hall looks like a haunted mansion. Very cool and totally amazed that you made your own camera!!!!

  2. Stephanie says:

    P.S. for those interested in the other technical details – the film was “Shanghai GP3 100 Pan” aka the B&W 120 film sold by the Lomography shop. I developed it in Kodak T-Max for 7 minutes.

    I like the Shanghai film – it’s cheap and works fine, the only caveats are that the frame # markings are very faint & hard to read, and the developed film is very prone to coil – like a spring. But its photographic qualities are fine, IMHO.

  3. Wow, look! It’s the nineteenth century – complete with black felt leavings!!

    No, seriously – it’s cool that you made it yourself and it actually takes pictures. I just couldn’t shake feeling like I was on the micro fiche machine in the basement of Ontario Hall at Queen’s researching Canadian social history …

  4. Phillip says:

    5 sec. isn’t long for a pinhole camera even using 120 film. A smaller hole might help you get a sharper image at those distances or maybe your camera is moving. Something should be sharp. Try making your pinhole by just lightly pressing the point of a sewing needle aluminum foil on glass. The needle doesn’t need to go all the way through the foil, just the point so when you hold it up to a light bulb, you see a very tiny hole. You can use heavy-duty foil and tape it tightly on the front of your camera. You will have to use long exposures, but you’ll have sharper images with deep, deep depth of field. It shouldn’t be hard, that’s very small film for pinhole photography.

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