pinhole contraptions


TPF Noob!
Feb 10, 2009
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whats the big hype about these? ive seen them being made before but dont really understand them. how do they work and how do you set up your camera inside it? any info would be great! id like to give this a shot(no pun intended) thanks

First you have to understand what a pin hole camera is,
Basically it is a film holder with a small hole (the pin hole as in poked through with a hat pin) as a lens. This is very old technology and was actually used in some early cameras. The small hole causes a refraction of the light as a lens would do, but with only some parts in good focus. You can use film, print paper or printing out paper such as print paper to capture an image. The exposure is a function of the size of the hole ( the f-stop so to speak) and the time, usually a piece of tape over the hole that you use to cover and uncover the hole with.
There are kits to convert a camera into a pin hole camera by replacing the lens with a body cap with a hole in it and using the shutter for exposure.
It is a fun project and great to explain the fundamentals of photography to children.
Judge Sharpe
thanks much for that info. what happens to the paper when you take it out. do you have to do this in a darkroom?
you would indeed have to take out the paper in the dark room.... because it is a light sensitive material.
or you can use film (120, 135) and roll them into the canister/paper
are there places that you can take it to to develope it in a darkroom if you dont have one? are there places like that?
Stick with me. I'll get around to an answer in a sec.

Pinhole photography does strange things to film/paper. The Law of Reciprocity states that a specific amount of exposure is attained with a specific intensity of light and a specific duration of exposure. And if one is changed then the other must be changed to an equal degree if the same overall amount of exposure is to be attained. When a photon strikes a silver halide it converts it to a proportionate degree into black metallic silver. This is what happens during exposure. With a normal photographic lens and normal (more or less) lighting, this is usually acheived with shutter speeds between, say, 1/30th of a second to 1/1000th of a second. Even down to 1 full second the Law of Reciprocity is still in effect.

However, outside of a certain range of exposure duration (usually published by the film's manufacturer) the Law of Reciprocity begins to break down. It dies this because as the further exposure duration moves from this range the more silver halides lose their developable capabilities. Two things are required to reverse this effect. EVEN MORE time and then more developing during processing.

I said that to say this. Don't take it to Walgreens or anyone like that. Find a real lab or a photographer near you that can work with you and knows how to process film that was exposed through a pinhole. Your average techy probably has no idea what a pinhole is unless his blood is coming from it.

Oh, and the April issue of the magazine is going to be a pinhole issue. Thought you all would like to know that.

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