View Full Version : Using a 4x5 camera without a lens - just a pinhole

6-Mar-2004, 17:10
I've ordered Renner's book, but I have three questions at the moment for people who have done it:

How did you create the pinhole, especially if you wanted a sharp image and therefore a very clean pinhole? Did you make a lensboard or adapt one and, if the latter, how did you do it?

Assuming that you want to avoid camera movement, how did you proceed in terms of a shutter? Did you just use the dark slide, did you use your thumb, a piece of tape?

Any general advice, especially if I want to photograph people? There are some pinhole photographs on www.zeroimage.com that suggest that exposures do not need to be so long as to make subject movement a major problem, which comes as a surprise to me.

Leonard Robertson
6-Mar-2004, 18:41
Rory - I just saw this page the other day on making a pinhole: http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Pinhole/pinhole.html I can't help with your other questions, although I'm sure someone else will be able to.

ronald lamarsh
6-Mar-2004, 20:53
Go to the penultimate web page its a great resource, you'll find there links to at least one manufacturer that can provide laser cut pinhole's. Unless you have some very precision equip and use very thin stock you can't make one to your standards. The laser drilled ones are pretty inexpensive(less that $50) for a complete set of 4 or 5 in various sizes or they will custom make one to your specifications. They're easy to mount in a 35mm slide mount and adapt to your lensboard. Saint Ansel himself experimented with pinholes but he had them made by a machinist friend out of very thin stock. The key is that the hole must be perfectly round and have no burrs to scatter light.

6-Mar-2004, 21:27
if you haven't been there: http://www.pinholeresource.com ( renner's website :) )

i have some laser cut holes. they are attached to the back side ( side closest to the film ) of black matboard with black masking tape. laser holes are great because you have a definite fstop you are working with, and if you take a light meter reading @f64 you multiply by a number and get a pretty dead-on exposure time. you can use black masking tape on the front of the matboard ( you have a hole cut in it ) to be your shutter.

i have never had short exposure times shooting with a pinhole. i am not quite sure what film they were using on the zeroimage website. advise for photographing people ... have them sit really still :) or find yourself a head-clamp like they used in the good ole days. :)

good luck !


Řyvind Dahle
7-Mar-2004, 06:53
To create the pinhole: Use a soda-box, cut the foil big enough to cover the hole for Copal #0/#1/#3, make it flatt!!! make a hole, tape it to your lensboard with black tape.


My picture on http://www.oslokameraklubb.no/nyhet30.html

To make the pinhole the right size: Use a needle to make a bump, use #1200 sanding paper, use the needle again and sand it down a second time: You will now have a hole too small. To measure it, set the lens on your 35mm camera to aperture 22 and measure the light against a nonchanging lightsource (22 & 1/500 s). Take of the lens, and hold the foil in front of the camera: (4s means aperture 1024). If you use 43mm on your pinholecamera, optimum size is Aperture 180, so you have a correct size when you get this: (180 & 1/8 s) Keep on sanding and using the needle til you get it right.

If you have a 90mm pinhole camera, your optimum hole is aperture 256, so add macro-rings to make it comparable, or you can say that 256 at 90mm is same size pinhole as 128 at 43mm (your camera).

Use brass shims if you find them big enough, and buy laser-cut if you can afford.

You could also enlarge your pinhole in a enlarger or slide-projector or scan them in a film or flatbed scanner, several articles on the web.

As for shutter, make them out of high quality black tape, or buy a small shutter on ebay.

To make the exposures short: use only 120-camera because they need larger apertures (smaller number: a 22mm camera has a optimum apertur 128!). Use 1600 ISO film: in the sun (sunny 16): 1/15 sec.
Flash with metric guide #32: 1 meter, #45: 2 meters with 1600 ISO film.


8-Mar-2004, 09:40
Thanks for the responses. Oyvind's site has some excellent links.

John Bolgiano
8-Mar-2004, 11:12
While some pinhole/film combinations do allow short enough exposure times to allow almost normal photography of people, my own preferences tend towards use of times long enough to work what I think of as pinhole magic. It's great fun shooting a busy and crowded location with times long enough to make the people disappear, or to use a time long enough to add a sense of motion through blurring.

If you're after tack sharp portraits, I've learned the hard way to find a pose for my models which provides maximum comfort and support. A little extra padding under them helps prevent wiggles during several minute long shots. Hands and fingers seem to be the worst wiggle offenders during a pinhole portrait, so make sure they are resting on a firm surface in a comfortable position.