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Pinhole Kit Mk 3

If Pinhole cameras are new to you, see pinhole cameras  first before reading this article, you may also get more from it if you have also read the other articles listed in the paragraph below.

The first experiments I did with pinhole photography on a DSLR simply involved black card, with a pin pushed through it, and this produced an image. To many it was magical, some thinking I had pulled some conjuring trick on them. The second stage was to make up a series of experiments using a small foil patch with a pinhole in it and placed over card, this is what you see in a number of the articles we have on this site, including:-

The quality is better, yet its still something that most photographers can do with little more than household items in a few minutes. This is an art form, every lens and camera arrangement you make is different, even used two days, on occasions a few minutes apart can be different. The kit we developed in order to show people pinhole photography at this stage involved a lot of wraps with foil on and only one of these had a door system that allowed two different photos from the same arrangement without changing tubes, lighting or position. As using this was an artistic experiment, results were not reproducible.

The 3rd stage, was to develop the idea that we could create one gadget, that could:-

  • allow pinhole photography to be explored, both as a science, with reproducible results but also as an art form.

  • be a research tool that would allow us to see how much difference it really makes if you change the pinhole size.

  • would allow us to use different focal lengths by using combinations of tubes or even Tubes & Bellows.

  • would allow us to experience massive, perspective corrections, to suddenly take photos that appear to have been taken up in the air, while still having our feet in the ground

  • something we could teach others to use and get as much fun with.

So I talked to an engineering company about producing something, and this discussion continues and you may see this turn into something that can be bought rather than made. At the same time I wanted to develop the idea and prove the concepts and I wanted at least one form that could carry on as before and be created by most photographers.

However to achieve so much in one gadget, I had to make changes, firstly to swap the foil to something that was more predictable, and after some search, looking at several pinholes that could be purchased, I selected some produced by the Pinhole Factory, there is another article specifically looking at these pinholes - see Pinholes from the Pinhole Factory. I have 4 pinholes  0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.4mm. and 0.5mm and they are interchangeable and their position movable.


0.4mm Pinhole on right, retaining ring on left, both far larger than life

The second change was that in order to have a sliding mechanism, so that I could move the position of the pinholes, as well as change them, I needed to use something more substantial than the lightweight card I had used up to now, and like many photographers I have mountboard, used to mount photos in frames, and a mountboard cutter. I have used this for the base and for the sliding mechanism. When this is used to mount a photo you usually cut at 45 degrees so as to give a fine line created by the centre of the card being a different colour. One of the blades on the cutter is at this angle. I have used this to cut two slides, using the card the opposite way up to normal for the sliding rails, and the usual way up to produce the slide that will slide within it. I don't have a computerised mountboard cutter, but if I had this would be a far simpler task, so I will have to see if one of those who have one could cut out a kit that would simplify this process for others.

Most mountboard has a coloured surface and the centre is a different colour and back plain, but we had some solid black mountboard in stock that is black, front and back and right through it's core, and this is what I decided to use.

The weakness in the design is that I still have this fixed to a thin card wrap, and using elastic bands to put it in place. I looked at a Nikon body cap, and considered making it smaller, cutting a slot in the body cap, and in some ways this would make a better job, but I was not confident that I could do this successfully, and also felt that many others would have similar problems, and I wanted this to be a project that many photographers could handle. I also thought that some would be reluctant to destroy their cameras body cap. So we still need to look to the engineers solution that will give us a smaller, easier to click, on and off solution.

The design is shown in a PDF file that you can print out by clicking here (PDF opens in new window), this is the concept, you can of course change it as you like.

The parts that you end up with out of the mountboard are:-

  • a circle with a slot,

  • 2 edge flanges, that are cut so that they have opposite undercuts, that the slide will run in,

  • 2 double or 4 single sliders all exactly the same width each with a hole in, these will carry the pinholes, note that the sliders edges are opposite cuts, so that they fit within the flanges.

Parts cut out, a Nikon body cap is also shown top right

In addition to this you need:-

  • the pinholes, we discussed above,

  • a thinner card wrap as used on earlier versions,

  • some elastic bands,

  • a tube set, T2 adaptor, or something else that you have, to wrap it around,

or you could cut a slit in a body cap that you glue this to and mount it this way.

This image shows the parts in place over a lens cap.

The lens cap would need a slot cut in it to match or be larger than the slot in the base card.

The pinholes held on with cut down stickers are put over the holes shown.

Notice on the lower part of the slider that you can see the bevelled cut that allows it to slide within the edge flanges that have bevels cut the opposite way.

The holes shown were punched using a hand punch obtained some time back from a stationary shop.

I put these pieces together by using a staple gun to hold the flanges exactly where I wanted them, and hammering the staples down tight, the card wrap was then glued on, the staples holes might not be light tight, but they are under the wrap. I could have glued it all, and not used the staples.  I marked where the centre is likely to be and the sliders when they are in the central position. I fitted the pinholes having trimmed the retaining sticky rings so that they did not go wider than my sliders, and labelled the sliders with the size of the pin holes.


Using this kit

The individual slides each contain a different sized pinhole, in theory when a longer distance exists between the sensor and the pinhole we should be using a larger pinhole, as this is, in effect, the focal length of this pinhole lens.

The slide allows them to be moved to any position, from slightly below central to a high point, but you can go in any direction, allowing perspective control on different axis and in different amounts to be explored. Used side ways for example, you can take a photograph into a mirror without your reflection or the cameras being present.

By using it with the tubes, we have 7 combinations of distance/focal length.

See Also:

Pinhole Photography Section

A pinhole for your DSLR

Pringle tube pinhole camera 

Pinhole Adaptor

Pinholes from the Pinhole Factory

Pinhole Cameras - Further Information  

Stanton Drew Stone Circle - Pinhole Gallery


By: Keith Park Section: Pinhole Photography Key:
Page Ref: pinhole_kit_MK3 Topic: Pinhole Photography Last Updated: 03/2011

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