Building a pinhole camera

The other day, I was suddenly taken by an urge to build a pinhole camera. I vaguely recall building one out of a shoebox at primary school that projected a dim image onto some tracing paper, but now that I have the equipment and a little experience in developing films at home, I thought it might be fun to make a pinhole camera that can work with film to make permanent images.

Medium-format sheet film is the ideal thing for such an application. While I have the stuff to develop 120 film, I don’t have any means of scanning it. So my system will be using regular 35mm film, which is more convenient for me.

This got me thinking about how to mount the film in the pinhole camera. Obviously when using small film, the camera needs to be shorter to project a smaller image. Could be fiddly to load individual frames of 35mm film into an oxo box! So I wondered about using the body of my Canon AE-1 Program, basically as a film holder.

But I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to cut a hole in the side of a cereal box and shove a camera in there without letting light in. So I considered building a pinhole camera around the body of my AE-1. Maybe I could jam a toilet roll tube into the FD mount, or something.

Then I found this much more sensible guide, Making a pinhole lens for an SLR. It describes how to make a body cap into a pinhole “lens”. It’s completely light-proof, easy to make, and causes no damage to the camera (assuming you have a second body cap).

So, I’ve ordered a body cap from eBay and I will be making it into a pinhole “lens”. I will, of course, scan and post the results on my photo blog. There will probably be some kind of review on this blog, too. Watch this space!

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