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Pinhole Photography: Medium Format Cigar Box Pinhole

I have never been really interested in pinhole photography. No reason, just never gave it much thought. But having enjoyed yesterdays pinhole workshop at the Lomography store in Antwerp, and it recently being world pinhole photography day, I thought I'd give it a shot and build my own medium format cigar box camera!

A week or so ago I participated in the pinhole workshop held at the Lomography Galery Store Antwerp. There was quite a turn out and as usual we had lots of fun! Some of the examples that were shown during the introduction were very impressive and got me intrigued. So in honor of today being world pinhole photography day, I decided I would build my very own pinhole camera. I just finished and I’m very proud of my medium format cigar box camera!

Today is Sunday, which means all the shops were closed. That means everything I used for building the camera I found laying around the house, nothing exotic. All I needed was a cigar box, an empty soda can, an old key, a metal washer, a small magnet, strong tape, and the odd bits and pieces of cardboard and packing foam.

In order to make the work a bit easier I first took the lid of the box. Next I cut a piece of sturdy cardboard, exactly the inner size of the box, so I could use it as an inlay. As you can see I drew some lines and circles on the cardboard, they helped me indicate where the film would have to go, where the pinhole should be, what circle would be exposed, etc. If you need help calculating the appropriate pinhole diameter for your box, check out this very useful page.

To hold the film and take up spool in place I used strong cardboard tubes, cut out an opening and closed up the bottom and the top. The tube that will take the film has an opening in the top cap for the winding mechanism to pass through. I duct taped both tubes to the cardboard inlay in such a way they flip open outwards to put the spools in.

For the winding mechanism I used an old house key, parts of a film canister (the cap on the outside of the box, the bottom of the canister on the inside of the box), and some black foam in between to prevent light leaks. Once in place I used superglue to attach the canister parts to the key to make sure it can’t come off, but still turn around!

Next thing was making a shutter of sorts. First I cut a piece of aluminum from an empty soda can, super-glued a metal washer onto it, cut it out, punched a tiny hole, and glued it to the front of the cigar box (obviously after drilling a hole through the box!). I specifically used a metal washer so I could use a small magnet for the shutter.

That was it, I was done building and ready to load! Loading the camera was easier than loading a Diana camera. Just put the film under the left tube, spooled the paper on a take up spool and put the under the right tube, making sure the key caught on, and put in some extra black foam just in case of light leaks. I closed the box, flipped it over and turned the key until the magic number 1 appeared in the hole I drilled in the back.

The only thing missing is get out there and shoot! Tomorrow… It’s been a long day ;-)

written by sandravo

17 comments

  1. segata

    segata

    Very well done, Im not normally a fan of pinhole cameras but this one changed my mind :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks @Segata! I know there are hundreds of diy instructions out there, but I tried to do something different: handsome and reusable rather than cardboard, duct tape and 1-time-use.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. muchachamala

    muchachamala

    Fancy looking! Let's see some results...

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  4. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks @muchachamala! I will post some photos soon ;-)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  5. tytusek

    tytusek

    cool! :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  6. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks @tytusek !

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  7. eremigi

    eremigi

    Technically impeccable: you are a genius! I will definitely try this one out

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  8. eremigi

    eremigi

    * forgot: especially the little magnet. That is just priceless!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  9. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks @eremigi! Please do try it yourself! It's a lot of fun, took me more time than I anticipated, but I do have an actual camera that can be loaded, used, unloaded, and again and again ... Without having to destroy it! BTW I am a bit proud of coming up with that little magnet trick ;-).

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  10. lafoto

    lafoto

    Thanks, really good! I will definitely try it out if I can get hold of a suitable box - any ideas on where to get one from?? I guess car boot sales or something?? Great idea :)
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  11. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks for your comment @lafoto! I got these cigar boxes from my grand father, so maybe you could check the attic in your parents house? Please share your camera when you finish!

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  12. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks for your comment @lafoto! I got these cigar boxes from my grand father, so maybe you could check the attic in your parents house? Please share your camera when you finish!

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  13. alburnkat

    alburnkat

    Beautiful Pinhole, you have designed an amazing camera!! Are you an Engineer? I have to print your article and put in my pinhole file to use some of your techniques in the future. :-D

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  14. sandravo

    sandravo

    Thanks for your comment @albumkat! I am not an engineer in the strict sense, but I am a scientist and have a degree in Bio-Engineering. I've always had a thing for numbers and geometry.

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  15. buttonmunch

    buttonmunch

    This is so cool! I, too, was never really interested in Pinhole cameras, but as I have all these items here at home, I've got to try this. Can't wait to see your results!

    By the way, @lafoto and others who may be searching for cigar boxes: try thrift stores. I recently went to a local thrift store and they had tons! (They're also great for storing instant photos ;] ) Ebay's also a good source.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  16. lafoto

    lafoto

    @buttonmunch that's a good idea :) I'll have a look around town... :) Thanks!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  17. rik041

    rik041

    wow

    about 1 year ago · report as spam