How To Make a Double Matchbox Pinhole Camera


World Pinhole Photography Day/Week is coming up on the 24th of April and I wanted to share a 'How to make' with you all. Some years ago I put together two matchboxes and made a bizarre panoramic double image mash up cam which allows you to overlap, multi expose or juxtapose different images together. If you embrace a challenge and love the unexpected, then this is the cam for you.

I have been making pinhole cameras for some years now and I wanted to share with you one of the earliest cameras I made. When I got the results back they were fun and different – and because the images overlapped and had light leaks and rough edges, it all added to the build up of the image. The camera will take you about thirty minutes to make (as long as you are fairly dextrous). It is not difficult and does not require any special tools – In fact, the more junk you re-use the better!

What you will need:

  • Two small matchboxes that should fit 35mm film
  • Black paint, pen or spray matt if possible.
  • Black insulation tape
  • Card – Just a small amount for shutters
  • One lolly stick (a perfect excuse to eat one first!)
  • One used and empty film cartridge
  • One unused film cartridge
  • A plastic film pot
  • Scalpel or craft knife
  • Metal from a can or foil tray
  • Bit of string
  • Ruler (not essential)

1.First take a standard small matchbox, you’ll notice that 35mm film fits perfectly through it.
Cut the interior tray with any shape you desire but I have done a panorama for this one.
Paint, spray or marker the inside with black, preferably matt.

2.Get your second matchbox and do the same – But this time change the level of the mask you are cutting and put it lower so you have one up and one down in a horizontal/landscape formation.

3.Then take the outside of the matchbox and find the center – You must place this hole in line with the tray that is high.
Cut a small hole, this is where your pinhole will sit.
Do the same with the other matchbox, again ensuring that you match the pinhole position to the tray inside… so this one will be low.

4.Make your pinhole. Get a piece of metal about 1 cm square/rectangular, enough to cover the hole you have made.
the metal can be from a drinks can or take away dish or it could be nice brass shim if you can get hold of it (as long as it’s thin aluminium).
Drill the fine hole by turning the needle or the metal until it goes through. There is always a burr on the metal but it may not be visible. Feel how rough it is.
Fine grade emery paper is what you need to smooth this away. Gently sand both sides in a circular motion – Be careful not to lose the circular shape of the hole and only make one hole! Blacken both sides of this, or just one if you prefer.

5.Attach this to the matchbox hole as centrally as possible and tape down with the ubiquitous Black insulation tape. Tape all four sides down.
Do not cover the pinhole at all. Do the same with the other box

6.Place the two boxes next to each other, do not tape together yet.

7.Now I’m assuming you want a clicker so you can count how far you have wound on. It is not necessary so just miss this bit if you don’t want one.
I cut a flexible piece of plastic from the rim of a film pot using a scalpel, taper the ends so it will fit through the sprockets.

8.Attach to the film with some tape, making sure the film moves freely forward

9.Join the two matchboxes together with tape and insert your trays with the masks cut. The film is then slotted in behind the trays.
This will keep the film nice and flat. pull the leader of the film through until it shows out the other side.

10.What you now do is attach your film to the end of a ‘dead’ cartidge. Just use some black tape or sellotape, make sure it doesn’t stick and the film runs freely.
Once attached, wind on a bit and pull the cartridge as close to the box as possible as it needs to be taped up tight to hold it on and stop light leaks.

11.It should be nice and secure like this. It’s not the most attractive solution but it works!

12.Once both are done it should look like this.

13.Now you can number them if you want to or add decals for fun.

14.Just to remind yourself which way you are going.

15.Shutters are needed to keep the light off the film. so the simplest method is black tape folded back on itself or a small piece of card slotted in front as you can see here.
I had pulls made from string.

16.The back of this is long enough to make tiny notes on exposure times, especially for the first roll until you have an idea of what you are getting from this cam. There is even enough room for a pencil! Lolly sticks can be cut down and slotted in the cartridges to turn the film.

There you have it. Below are some images from this cam.

written by kylewis on 2011-04-23 in #gear #tipster #requested-tipster-pinhole #tipster #pinhole-photography #pinhole-masters-and-magic #diy #pinhole #kylewis #do-it-yourself


  1. xxxanderrr
    xxxanderrr ·

    Great detail, thank you for that!
    Wonderful article :)

  2. ewwjalanis
    ewwjalanis ·


  3. macstef
    macstef ·

    cool, only built the single one... be sure I'll try that one!! Thx ^^

  4. fartstorm
    fartstorm ·

    I'd like to see someone try and build a digital camera themselves from a memory card!

  5. mingky
    mingky ·


More Interesting Articles

  • The Lomography Guide To Multiple Exposures Is Now Online!

    written by shhquiet on 2014-04-24 in #news
    The Lomography Guide To Multiple Exposures Is Now Online!

    Ever wondered about those cool photos with overlapping images? Those are Multiple Exposures, and if you're curious about how to do this technique, look no further. We have prepared a guide that gives you all the information that you need!

  • How To Bring Your Images To Life

    written by andie_sollmer on 2014-07-08 in #gear #tipster

    Learn how to make a minimovie out of your favorite picture! It works best with Multi-lensed cameras like the Oktomat or Pop9, where you have many images on one single print.

  • Film Artist and Light Show Host Julian Hand

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-09-04 in #lifestyle
    Film Artist and Light Show Host Julian Hand

    Julian Hand is a film artist and visual projectionist for our latest LomoAmigos The Oscillation. He uses traditional analogue techniques to create swirling, trippy and beautifully tactile films and light shows. He uses Super 8 film, coloured inks, washing up liquid, soap and acetate to create these images and visuals. He embraces all things analogue! I brought an LC-A+, some 1600 ISO film and captured him at work.

  • Shop News

    DIY Camera for Less!

    DIY Camera for Less!

    You can now have the Pinhole Art DIY 135 at 40% less! Start setting up your own camera, shoot in 35mm format and get those soft-focused wide-angled images.

  • Sprocket Rocket: a Great Camera for Your Beach Life!

    written by sirio174 on 2014-07-09 in #reviews
    Sprocket Rocket: a Great Camera for Your Beach Life!

    If you are looking for a panoramic camera to document your adventures on the beach, you should try the Sprocket Rocket. It's easy to use, cheap, and can get you amazing results! In this article, you can see how I used this camera to document a short vacation in Liguria, from Varazze to Alassio. Take a look after the jump!

  • Shoot Dreamy Photos with a Teardrop Backdrop with the New Petzval Lens

    written by shhquiet on 2014-10-27 in #news
    Shoot Dreamy Photos with a Teardrop Backdrop with the New Petzval Lens

    The premium New Petzval Lens allows you to set your subject against a soft, beautiful background of bokeh. But how about making the bokeh even more interesting by using shapes? Simply use the special aperture plates exclusively made for the Petzval and have fun!

  • Fresh From the Lab: Sicilian Dance and Music

    written by sirio174 on 2014-05-13 in #lifestyle
    Fresh From the Lab: Sicilian Dance and Music

    Yesterday I picked up from my trusty photography shop in Como a developed and scanned color film roll containing images of the Sicilian festival held on May 1 at the city's historical center. A few hours ago, I made some scans of these images, which I'm pleased to show you in this article! Read more after the jump!

  • Shop News

    Show Off your Pics with Style!

    Show Off your Pics with Style!

    Build vivid hanging LomoCurtains, robust free-standing LomoCastles, and dazzling mounted LomoMosaics! Just click them together with the Lomography Photoclips!

  • 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.

  • A Salute to the Masters: The Girl with the Scarred Face (A Tribute to Juergen Teller)

    written by sirio174 on 2014-05-16 in #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: The Girl with the Scarred Face (A Tribute to Juergen Teller)

    This is a tribute to Juergen Teller, a great fashion photographer who continues to work with analogue cameras. In the 1990s he radically changed the way to make fashion photography. His models appear "soap and water", without heavy make-up, and his images seem taken like an amateur photographer. Between his nice works, there is a photos that I like so much, taken in Cuba and called "The Girl with the Broken Nose." Take a look after the jump!

  • Workshops and Events for January 2015 at Lomography UK

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-01-05 in #events
    Workshops and Events for January 2015 at Lomography UK

    Happy New Year Everyone. We're confident that our January 2015 workshops will help you dust off those January blues and get you smiling again. You'll be able to learn how to expose an image onto fabric or canvas with our LUMI paint workshop, learn the basics of our super Diana F+ camera and take to the streets with the Lomo'instant. There is also a great exhibition of analogue prints from photographer Arat “Huge” Komsawadichai. Find out more and book your spot by clicking here.

  • Shop News

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Carefully enlarged from your negatives onto premium photographic paper by lab professionals, each picture is a unique piece of craftsmanship.

  • Shootin’ Across Town with the Lomo’Splitzer: Vienna

    written by fl0werp0wer on 2015-03-26 in #world #tipster
    Shootin’ Across Town with the Lomo’Splitzer: Vienna

    Who knew that by making a hop, skip and jump across town you could create such crazy lomo'instagraphs?! When equipt with the Lomo'Instant and the trusty Splitzer accessory - anything is possible. Take a peep at this selection taken from different locations across Vienna and see for yourself the phenomenal results. Read on to discover how you too can splice-up (and spice-up) historic buildings on your next sight-seeing trip.

  • Chemical Manipulations with the Lomo’Instant

    written by tomas_bates on 2015-01-21 in #gear #tipster
    Chemical Manipulations with the Lomo’Instant

    Perhaps you’ve already had chance to try light painting, multiple exposures and long exposures with your Lomo’Instant, but what can you experiment with next? Well, that’s exactly the thought I had which led to giving this Tipster a go. I wanted to shoot Lomo’Instant photos which felt a bit “messier” than what I’m usually used to and to use a technique which would open up new possibilities with the kinds of images I could create with my favorite instant camera. Well, here I go!

  • 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.