Playing with Pinholes: Turn an Empty Film Box into a Pinhole Camera

10

Most of us Lomographers tend to stack up empty film boxes everywhere, wishing to recycle them in a clever way. Here's just one of the many cool things you can do with them - pinhole cameras! Check out this easy tutorial on how to build your own 35mm pinhole camera with just a few basic things you can easily find at home!

This is what you’ll need for this easy project:

  • An empty box of Lomography 35mm film or any other pack of three rolls (or a box approx 11×5cm)
  • A fresh roll of 35mm film
  • An empty roll of 35mm film with a tiny piece of film at the end coming out of the canister
  • One paper clip
  • A thick piece of aluminum foil (you can cut it out of an empty soda can)
  • A needle
  • Scissors and a cutter
  • Black vynil electrical tape
  • Adhesive tape (and also masking tape, if you feel like adding a little color to your pinhole camera)
  • Pencil & ruler
  • Stapler

First of all, you’ll need an empty box of film. I’m using one of Lomography's tri-pack boxes, as I have loads laying around in many drawers in my bedroom. Carefully open your box and lay it flat, then remove any traces of glue from it.

Copy this design on the back of your box (click here to see it bigger). You can see the measurements marked here in the bigger picture, or you can figure them out yourself using a film roll to see how to fit it perfectly in your box.

Draw the diagonals [see the green lines in the picture] to find where to put your pinhole (it will replace the red square in the center) and where to cut the two holes for the top of the two film canisters.

Cut along the red lines and cut out the parts colored in red.

Fold along the black lines. You can use a ruler to fold the cardboard straight. You can cut out the external parts covered by the ruler in these two pictures below, or you can fold them and glue them to the sides of your box as you like.

You will now need a piece of aluminum foil thick enough to pierce a sharp, tiny hole in it, and a needle. You can cut a piece of aluminum out of an empty soda can (be careful!). The window I cut out for the pinhole was 1×1cm, so if you follow my design and measurements you could cut a piece of aluminum a little bigger than it (mine is approx 1.2×1.5cm, but this really is up to you).The pinhole, as the name suggests, has to be really tiny: you will only have to push the tip of your needle through the foil. Remember this simple rule in pinhole photography: the smaller the pinhole, the sharper the picture.

Using black vynil elecrtical tape, tape the aluminum foil to the box (the central diagonals will show you where to place the pinhole). As some of the original folding lines are now in the middle of the sides of your box, you may want to use some tape [in my case, masking tape] to prevent them from bending.

You can now properly build your camera. I started folding the upper side of my box. I used both staples and tape to keep everything in place.

When your box looks somewhat like this one below, it’s time to get your rolls out.

You will have to tape your fresh film [the 100 ISO in my pictures] to the last bit of the old roll (the 200 ISO in my pictures). To do so, you will first have to take a fresh roll of film and cut the leader out.
The new film must be placed with the top of its canister on the bottom, unless you wish to take redscale pictures. In case, you will have to place the new film with its top facing the upper side of your box, and you will have to pierce a hole on the upper left side of the box (instead of the lower left side as marked in my design).

You can now load the film into your soon-to-be pinhole camera so that the two tops of the canisters come out of the two holes we cut out in the box. Now close the back door using black vynil tape and tape any possible hole or slit on your camera to make it light-tight (use black vynil tape first, then you can add masking tape, stickers, anything you like to customize your camera).

You can now fit the paper clip in the top of the empty canister to use it as your own advance wheel. After each shot you will have to turn the paper clip counter-clockwise twice to move to the next frame

Every camera needs a shutter, and so does your brand new pinhole camera! You can use a piece of black tape that you can remove whenever you want to expose your film and then put back in place before moving to the next shot, or you can try to add a sort of a slide shutter to your camera like I did. The best thing about sliding-shutters is that you can also use them as color filter holders!

So here’s how the camera looks when the shutter is closed… and then when it is open!

Now you’re ready to take your camera out and take some cool pictures, just remember that you will have to turn the paper clip counter-clockwise twice each time you take a picture to advance to the next frame. You will also need to hold your pinhole camera still when you take a photo (you can put it on something steady like a table, a stack of books…).

You can print this Exposure Guide which comes with the Diana Multi Pinhole Operator and keep your shutter open according to the amount of time stated in this useful guide.

Now you really are ready to shoot – Have fun with your new pinhole camera!

written by sidsel on 2012-05-02 in #gear #tipster #tutorial #35mm-pinhole-camera #pinhole #diy #film-boxes #playing-with-pinholes #how-to #camera #tipster

10 Comments

  1. arurin
    arurin ·

    nice tipster...it will be nice if you show some sample photos from your work ;)

  2. sidsel
    sidsel ·

    Thank you, @arurin! I will definitely post a link here in the comments as soon as l get the roll developed, I made this camera as a part of my project for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day [last April 29], so it might a while before I get to upload them here! Thanks for the like as well! :-)

  3. lostlittlekid
    lostlittlekid ·

    So gonna try this! Great tip! :D

  4. sidsel
    sidsel ·

    Thank you @lostlittlekid ! I'd love to see your results! :-)

  5. skrutt
    skrutt ·

    Really nice tipster! Will try this pin-hole someday!

  6. sidsel
    sidsel ·

    Thank you @skrutt!

  7. marypaulinem
    marypaulinem ·

    This is going on my to-do list! I may even move it up to the top! Thanks!

  8. sidsel
    sidsel ·

    Thank you @marypaulinem for reading my article, I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! Feel free to share here a link to your pictures when you get to build your own film box pinhole camera! :-)

  9. vanilajan
    vanilajan ·

    Cool~! Can't wait to make one!!! :D

  10. liveandbefree
    liveandbefree ·

    Sweet! Made one. So curious how the photos will turn out.
    Awesome and supereasy DIY, love it.

More Interesting Articles

  • Take a Peek Through The ONDU Pinhole

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-17 in #gear #news
    Take a Peek Through The ONDU Pinhole

    Have you ever tried going lens-less when taking a photo? Try shooting with ONDU Pinhole Cameras and see what it's like to take photos through a tiny pinhole. Check out these lovely shots taken by Lomographers; if you do have some ONDU pinhole photos of your own, upload and tag them accordingly so that we can see them!

    3
  • Save Your Wet Photos from Oblivion!

    written by cheeo on 2014-05-30 in #gear #tipster
    Save Your Wet Photos from Oblivion!

    Don’t you just hate it when your precious prints are threatened to be lost in blurry, blotched and smeared oblivion when they get wet? Let us show you how you can save them with this easy to do tipster!

    1
  • The Gevabox of Wonders

    written by stratski on 2014-11-18 in #reviews
    The Gevabox of Wonders

    Sometimes you see a camera and you just have to have it. I felt that way about this lovely little box camera. Looks don't mean a thing, I know, but in this case, the looks didn't deceive me.

    1
  • Shop News

    Lubitel & film bundle

    Lubitel & film bundle

    This beautiful camera features such ability to let users choose and switch between 35mm or 120 formats! Shoot more, save more! Get this Lubitel camera and get 15% discounts with Lomography Films!

  • Simple Color Gels or Filters Holder for the Diana Mini's Flash

    written by grungyjodie on 2014-04-25 in #gear #tipster
    Simple Color Gels or Filters Holder for the Diana Mini's Flash

    I've always been looking for a really simple solution to hold my color gels of my Diana Mini's flash WITH the camera and make them easy to grab when I want to use them. I also wanted something to keep them from getting damaged. Let me show you how I found a simple way to make it.

  • Sun-soaked redscale snaps taken with the Lomography Redscale films

    written by cheeo on 2014-05-20 in #lifestyle
    Sun-soaked redscale snaps taken with the Lomography Redscale films

    Have you ever loved sunsets so much that you decided to put them in your own camera when you shoot? These Lomographers so love their tangerines that they just went ballistic with redscale film from Lomography!

  • Roundup: Film Photography Day 2014

    written by shhquiet on 2014-06-03 in #news
    Roundup: Film Photography Day 2014

    Did you miss this year's Film Photography Day celebration? Here's a recap of all the events that happened in April, in honor of our love for analogue photography. Of course, remember that you can always make any day a Film Photography Day if you wish; just gather your friends and organize a LomoMatrix in your area! For inspiration, check out what Lomography Gallery Stores and Lomography Embassy Stores from all over the world came up with.

    3
  • Shop News

    Recognizable Images of Petzval

    Recognizable Images of Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • December 18th Advent Offer: Save 10% On Film Today! (Online Code: FILMFANTASY10)

    written by jacobs on 2014-12-18 in #news
    December 18th Advent Offer: Save 10% On Film Today! (Online Code: FILMFANTASY10)

    With the holidays just around the corner, it's a great time to make sure you have loads of wonderful films for all the fun festivities coming up. Today's Advent deal of the day is here to help you do just that! Head on over to the Online Shop and save 10% on our wide selection of films. Do the right thing and keep your camera happy this year!

  • 5 of the Best Ways to Share Your Lomo'Instant Pics

    written by jacobs on 2014-11-25 in #news
    5 of the Best Ways to Share Your Lomo'Instant Pics

    We love sharing photos! So, with the recent release of the beloved Lomo'Instant camera, we thought it would be a great idea to look at some of the best ways to share your instants with the world. Rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf or stay hidden away in a drawer somewhere, why not let everyone else in on your superb instant creations? Check out these 5 awesome ways you can do just that!

  • Technology Will Save Us x Lomography DIY Rumble

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-02-12 in #world #news #competitions
    Technology Will Save Us x Lomography DIY Rumble

    When it’s cold outside and the rain is pouring, it can be the perfect time to sit down and build something. Lomography UK has teamed up with Technology Will Save Us, a company that makes build-it-yourself electronic kits, to bring you the perfect DIY Rumble. Get the chance to win a Konstruktor camera and a DIY Instrument Kit. Read on for details on how to enter this fab competition.

    7
  • Shop News

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    You’ve shouted your analogue love from the rooftops and worn your heart on your sleeve – Now it’s time to take it to the next level and wear it on your skin! Our new Lomography Tattoos are fun, easy to apply and come in five designs.

  • Action.. basket time!

    written by sirio174 on 2014-05-08 in #reviews
    Action.. basket time!

    As you can see in my albums, I love to photograph sports events. In this case, I used a pretty Actionsampler camera to document a mini basketball game played in the park of my city Como, in celebration of the Festival of Sports. It's a funny camera with interesting results! Take a look after the jump!

    1
  • Lomography Belair X 6-12: A Camera That Can Do Almost Everything (Part 2)

    written by simonesavo on 2014-08-05 in #reviews
    Lomography Belair X 6-12: A Camera That Can Do Almost Everything (Part 2)

    The Lomography Belair X 6-12 is more than just a medium format camera. It is lightweight, compact, and capable of shooting photos in three different sizes: 6x12, 6x9, and 6x6. Equipped with a high quality interchangeable lens system and and automatic exposure, it can give you beautiful shots in every roll. It can also take three different film formats: 120mm, 35mm, and instant. Read on to find out all about this fantastic camera.

  • December 13th Advent Offer: Take Advantage of our Festive 3 For 2 Film Deals! (Online Code: 3FOR2HOLIDAYFILM)

    written by jacobs on 2014-12-13 in #news
    December 13th Advent Offer: Take Advantage of our Festive 3 For 2 Film Deals!  (Online Code: 3FOR2HOLIDAYFILM)

    Have you been waiting for a good time to load up on films for all your treasured analogue cameras? The time has come with our stunning Advent deal of the day! With our sweet film packs, we make it easy to cache away enough to last the fun and festive parties coming up. Start stashing now by heading over to our Online Shop!