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This is something I’ve been thinking about for a month or two. I enjoy pinhole photography, and am intrigued by instant film. So I wanted to combine the two – a pinhole camera that makes instant prints.
So this morning I finally decided to throw something together (in lieu of doing chores). I’ll post a detailed write-up of the construction later. The short version is, I used an Instant Back for the Lomo LC-A+ and built a pinhole-front to attach to the Instant Back. It was actually a very quick and easy project.
Here are some results:
Fuji Instax Mini film is rated at ISO 800, and I calculated the Instant Pinhole camera to have a 30mm focal length, and an aperture of about f/150. Under the overcast skies that came to about a 4 second exposure, which actually is a bit over-exposed I think. In the backyard, under heavy tree cover, this extended to eight seconds, which might be a bit under-exposed.
I tried some indoor shots but the Instax film suffers from big-time reciprocity failure – what should have been a 30-second exposure, looks like it would take over 2 1/2 minutes. So the Instant Pinhole is probably going to stick with sunny outdoor shots for now.
Another day, another roll of colour film. Sort of. Actually this roll was exposed at least a year ago, some time in 2010. I don’t remember when exactly.
It was some random colour shots around the house with my home-made pinhole camera. I had this roll of medium-format film sitting around waiting for me to make the trip to a professional lab and it just never happened.
So… results are middling. Mostly it’s dirty negs, dust in the scan. Someday I’ll figure out how to keep the negs and scanner from becoming dust-magnets. Sigh. There’s also some persistant dust or lint or something stuck in the camera itself, as evidenced by seeing the same hunk of lint appear on several frames.
Those problems are severe enough that they pretty much ruin the shots, but if you could pretend not to see them, then things actually look not-half-bad, I think.
These were on medium-format (120 roll film) Kodak Portra 400VC, shot in my home-made pinhole camera. Exposure times were guessed. Film was developed at home with C-41 chemistry. This time I developed at room-temperature and guesstimated the development and blix time.
I also decided to try a roll of colour film in my home-made pinhole camera. Once again, I used reversal (slide) film, because I had read it was tempermental and you had to be very precise with your exposures. Obviously, I had to put some through the pinhole camera.
I took about half the exposures on a bright sunny day, and the rest of the exposures on a grey damp evening at dusk. The results are… interesting. I will protest that the scans do not do the slides justice – remember these aren’t 35mm, these are 6cm x 6cm slides (2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches.) There’s something like four times the area on one of these, than a 35mm slide. Lots of detail. Seeing them on a light-table is amazing.
Scanning and down-sizing them for the web and all that… they lose some of their lustre.
Nonetheless, there were some interesting shots…
Technical stuff: Fuji Astia, ISO 100, 120 format, shot with my home-made pinhole camera. Exposures were guesstimated. Processed E-6 by a professional lab.
I took a few more shots with my pinhole camera today. I’m still kind of amazed at how it works, and still chuffed to have made it myself.
There was only one glitch this time, when loading the camera, the leading edge of the film caught on some of the felt and dragged a bit of felt into the image. Otherwise it worked really well.
I was hoping the shot of the boat would turn out better – although I have an idea of the wide-angle-ness of the camera, I don’t have a good idea yet about how it frames the images. There were a few other shots I did that came out rather crooked – I don’t know if I need a rudimentary viewfinder, or just a level… At any rate, there’s no more technical issues I think – the issues are in learning to use it.
I took some more shots today with my home-made camera. Made a silly mistake though – the 0.3mm pinhole is about three and a half f-stops from the big misshapen pinhole from Saturday, but I forgot to adjust my exposure times accordingly. So a lot of shots were under-exposed.
Still, a few came out not-too-bad. It’s a bit of a soft dreamy look, and I still find it amazing that the images come out at all, with no lens, just a wee little hole.
I still need to fix the film gate along the top – the felt is still getting in the way a bit. Other than that, and the under-exposures, it’s working pretty well I think.
So after all the excitement on Saturday of taking and processing pictures from my home-made camera, yesterday I sort of settled down and evaluated.
Pinhole shots are expected to be ‘soft’ but my shots were too soft. I asked around, and it was suggested that the hole I was using was too big. I wasn’t sure how to measure things that are in the less-than-millimeter range, but then I got an idea – I’d use my negative scanner, and scan at a super-high resolution, then just count the pixels of the hole.
It worked, and also provided a very good enlarged view of my pinhole – not only was it too big, it was a mis-shapen mess! The pinhole equivalent of trying to take pictures with a lens that was cracked and scratched all over. No wonder my shots were so ‘soft’ aka blurry.
You can see in this comparison, the left side is the pinhole I was using on Saturday. Yuck! The right side is a new pinhole I made, that I’ll use on my next roll to see how it goes. It ought to be much sharper. The funny thing is these pinholes were both made with the same pin, in the same piece of aluminum – just obviously I was way more careful on the second one.
On the camera itself, I also finished up some more work on it yesterday – I decided that the winding knobs are good enough so I finished them off, I have a simple but effective mechanism for holding the back in place, and I added a second ‘shutter’ that hopefully will work in tandem with the pinhole – i.e. allow me to open and close the aperture without moving the camera around too much.
Here is the face of the camera. The knobs have been finished off, and I’ve added a new shutter mechanism for the pinhole module.
The pinhole is punched in a razor-thin piece of aluminum, I’ve actually got three different holes in the aluminum so I could move it around and select the different holes. The aluminum is held in place by the brass strap, which is coated with black felt at the back.
The shutter is another piece of brass which rotates up out of the way. The pivot point has two washers and a spring, which allows me to adjust the tension while still keeping it tight. It too has black felt coating its back. There is a brass ‘pin’ to stop the shutter at the right point when it is closed.
The back of the camera is held in place by a fairly simple system, although I could improve it later. At the bottom of the camera I added two small bits of wood to hold the bottom of the back, and towards the top at the sides I drilled two very small holes, and just have a pair of brass nails that slide in and out, to hold the upper part of the back in place. I added another brass nail as a ‘handle’ to help extract the back once the sliding nails are out of the way.
The process of taking pictures is wonderfully complicated: First you set the camera in position on a tripod or whatever, angle it as best you can. There’s no view finder, just point and hope. It is a ‘wide angle’ so it will capture quite a bit of the scene. Second, you slide up the darkslide / safety shutter, after ensuring the pinhole shutter is closed. Third, rotate the pinhole shutter to the open position, being careful not to jiggle the camera.
Count off the exposure time, then rotate the pinhole shutter to the closed position. Fifth, slide the darkslide / safety shutter closed. And finally, crank the film advance knob while looking through the back window, to get the film to the next frame.