Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Evolution of a Polapinhole, Part 1

Last summer a few of you may remember I built a Polaroid pinhole camera from a broken ProPack with a silly short focal length. I've been wanting to build a legitimate pinhole with a wider angle, and finally got around to it. Should be studying, so that's probably the only reason I decided to work on the project. That, and these killer shots by Beck that she took with some Polaroid pinholes a friend built for her. Sweet stuff. Really short focal length with a fairly large pinhole, I think. Mine isn't as fancy or well built as that one, but it will work. Initially, I'm going for getting the focal length I want, so looks aren't that important. Once I'm done, I may spruce it up a bit and build a proper swing shutter or something. Paint it black, whatever.
Okay, so I started with my ProPack back, which I had previously carved down to the bare bones.

I use only the highest quality materials when I build stuff. For this project I used a FedEx box. I know, you say, How can I afford such expensive materials? I do my best. So I cut out the sides and top for my pinhole body from the cardboard, marked out the center and cut a hole for my pinhole to sit on. I'd say I spent maybe an hour total building the camera.

Taped it all together with blue tape and then sealed the edges to prevent leaks. I used a real pinhole plate that came with a "build it yourself" 35mm pinhole camera.

You can see the focal length compared to the original. I think the lens sits at around 110mm. Mine was around 60-65mm. I figured it was better to start longer and I could reduce it if i didn't think the angle was wide enough.

Here is the "final" test model. I taped it all up. Ugly, but effective, I hope.

Time to take it out back and try it before I buy it. I used Fuji FP-100B. The first was exposed at 10 seconds.

Washed out. Second exposed for five seconds.

Hmmm...looks like a leak to me. I guess I should have checked that before I took it out. Using a flashlight in a dark room, I did find a spot where the blue tape wasn't covered, so there was a faint light shining through it. Retaped it and outside again, exposed for three seconds this time in full sun.

Zoinks! An image! And perfectly exposed. How exciting! I took one more test shot.

Definitely not wide enough. I was fairly close, maybe two feet from the camera and I'm not even in the picture. Back inside to make some adjustments. I decided to knock off about 15mm, making it closer to 45-50mm.

And back outside. Still at three seconds, since that seems to be the sweet time. I know from previous experience that making the focal length shorter usually requires shorter exposure times, as it tends to burn a hole in the middle if you expose for too long. But, whatever. Three seconds it is.

Zoinks again! Much nicer. I was the same distance away and I'm in the frame this time. A few more test shots. Something besides boring me. How about a boring fence? A bit shadier, so exposed for around six seconds.

Works well, I think. It doesn't particularly look wide angle, as the edge distortion isn't very strong, but when I aimed through the viewfinder, all I saw was fence with no surround environment. Three times as much shows up in the photo frame. Okay, one last shot in the shade of my patio, exposed at 10 seconds, I think. I held the camera about three inches from my nose.

Hmmm...enough for today. I may cut it down by another 5mm or so. I'll have to take it out and shoot something besides me and the boring area surrounding me. Looks good so far though. Look for part 2 sometime in the near future. I really need to do some school type junk...blah.


  1. Anonymous7:33 AM

    Thx. great story and instructions.
    . working on my P Miniportrait 403 now to convert in into a pinhole monster.

  2. your instructions and experiments are really entertaining.

  3. Anonymous8:42 PM

    I have one of these backs laying around and plan on doing the same: pinhole it.

    Thanks for the instructions.