How To Make Pinhole Camera At Home
If you are looking for a new hobby, have always wanted to try photography but don’t want the expense of expensive equipment, or just need a creative outlet, then making your pinhole camera is perfect.
It only takes about 10 minutes, and most things you will need can be found around the house. This article will show how to make your pinhole camera at home with supplies from around the house!
What Is Pinhole Camera
A pinhole camera is a simple photographic camera without a lens and with a tiny aperture, a pinhole – effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. This narrows and blocks the light path so that only rays coming from a small scene area are allowed to form an image on the opposite side of the box.
Pinhole cameras have been used since medieval times for portrait painting and in the 1800s to photograph the MoMA. Today, they are popular with photographers who wish to experiment and learn photographic techniques without the cost of a lens.
How To Make Pinhole Camera
The best part is that this project does not require any special tools or knowledge to complete it successfully! Making your very own pinhole camera is super easy.
For most pinhole cameras, you will need
An old box with a lid – A shoebox is perfect.
A sheet of stiff, light-proof material or thin card for the inside of the lid
Thin cardboard or fabric to make the pinhole
Tape measure, ruler, and pencil
Glue stick, double-sided tape, or photo corners
Black and white photographic paper and developer (or a digital camera and computer)
Optional: A roll of black sticky tape, small pliers, ballpoint pen with a refill, scissors, spare shoebox.
Let's Start Making Pinhole Camera
- Take your old shoebox and clean it out thoroughly. Wipe with a dry or slightly damp cloth, as you don’t want any dust to land on the inside of the lid when it’s time to make the pinhole.
- Draw a rectangle about an inch wide and 1/2 inch high on one side of the box. Draw it in pencil, not pen or marker, as you might make a mistake and want to start over without any ink marks.
- Cut out the rectangle with a craft knife
- On one side of the lid, draw another rectangle but this time make it 1/2 inch wide by only about 1/8th of an inch high. This is your pinhole. It should be so small that light only shines through it when there is no other light in the room.
- Carefully poke a hole through the middle of your pinhole with something thin, sharp, and pointy – for example, a compass point or sewing needle. Make sure to keep the lid flat, or you will make a cock-eyed pinhole.
- Flip the lid over and stick your pinhole down with double-sided tape, glue stick, or photo corners. Make sure to keep it straight.
- Cut out another rectangle of stiff, light-proof material that is slightly larger than the one you just stuck down. Cut a small hole in the middle so that your pinhole is visible.
- Stick this piece of lightproof material onto the inside of your lid and tape it down around the borders with black electrical or double-sided tape – but not over your pinhole! Make sure to keep it as smooth as possible on the front side as no light may seep through.
- Cut off any extra tape from the border of your lightproof material and make it as smooth as possible on the front side, or your pinhole camera will pick up a black frame around the picture you take.
- Get some sort of marker and mark out a rectangle on one side of your box where the lid will go.
- Cut out your rectangle with scissors or a craft knife and stick down the front of the lid so it holds the pinhole in position while you’re taking a picture.
- Your pinhole camera is ready to use! All that’s left to do is load it up, point and shoot! If you use a digital camera, take your photos and upload them to the computer. If you used black and white film or photographic paper, take it to a one-hour photo booth or upload it to the laptop for development.
- Don’t forget to put a roll of black sticky tape in your old shoebox – they make great pinhole cameras too!
- Build Your Pinhole Camera.
- No lens needed.
- Cheap! You can use an old shoebox or even a camcorder case, all for free!
- A great way to get kids interested in photography without the expense of film and developing costs.
- Easy to make light-proof box and pinhole.
- No focus needed – great for macro shots.
- Great fun! Who wouldn’t want their camera?
- More difficult to guarantee accurate focusing of the image. You can get around this by using a roll of black tape or a pen/pencil to see through the pinhole when taking the picture.
- More difficult to take “selfie” type pictures of yourself. You can get around this by using a digital camera or your camera phone in selfie mode or with a cheap remote control for your camera phone.
- Might need some extra supplies like sticky tape, pen refill, pliers, etc. but these can be found around the house.
All in all, making a pinhole camera is fun and easy. You can experiment with different materials or boxes to find out which works best for you. But remember to use a lightproof container, so your camera stays dark during picture taking!
Q: How do I make a pinhole camera for super macro shots?
A: Cut out the middle of your shoebox lid (the bit where the pinhole goes), and instead of tape your lens onto that area. A glass or plastic coffee lid can also be used. Put the black electrical tape around it so no light gets in. You may need some video on the front as well. It might be tricky to take a selfie picture, but try using some pliers (and gloves) and holding your camera phone up with one hand, and pressing the button with the other.
Q: What if I don't have a pinhole?
A: You can also use a piece of aluminum foil with a pinprick in the middle. This is also even better for macro shots!
Q: What can I use instead of an empty shoebox?
A: You could try using an empty camcorder box, an old magazine box, a senior computer monitor case – basically anything that’s lightproof and quite sturdy. Weight is significant because you will need to hold your camera while taking pictures!
Q: Can I use any type of film?
A: You can try using the same sort of black and white photographic paper that you would typically send away for developing, but make sure it’s plain paper rather than inkjet or photo paper. Inkjet printouts are too shiny for pinhole cameras.
Q: Can I cut the lid to make my pinhole?
A: No, you might cut yourself! And don’t use a blade or scissors – try using a craft knife with a new sharp edge. Work slowly and carefully – cutting plastic can be tricky because it’s thicker than paper, so your cuts need to be more profound. Once you’ve cut out your rectangle, stick it down using a glue stick or PVA glue,, so the pinhole stays in place while taking photos.