DIY: Make a Pinhole Camera Out of a Matchbox


Some months ago, we celebrated International Pinhole Day. Sounds like a good reason to make your own pinhole camera, right? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make a pinhole camera the easy way without special necessities.

Necessary items:

  • matchbox
  • insulation tape
  • unexposed film
  • empty film (you can ask at your local lab)
  • piece of tin (best is from a can of drink)
  • gimlet/needle/nail
  • scissors
  • key (or anything else you can use to wind the film)
  • carton

It took a few hours for me to make the camera, so it isn’t much work. If you read this article first and after that you start making your pinhole camera, I’m sure you won’t have big troubles. If you have questions or anything else, feel free to send me a message!

Here’s how to do it:

Take the inside box and draw a cross to appoint the middle. Measure the size of a photo with a used negative. Cut this square. You can choose to take photos from another format, it’s up to you. I chose to expose the sprocket holes as well by making a higher square.

Now, take the case box and draw a cross to appoint the middle. Draw a 6×6mm square and cut this out.

Cut a piece of tin from about 15×15mm. Make a very small hole of about 0.2 mm in the middle of it. I made the hole with a gimlet but if you can do it with a needle or nail it would be better because the hole will be smaller. Remember, if the hole is smaller, the photos will be sharper!

Tape the piece of tin on the 6×6mm square in the matchbox. Make sure the 0.2mm hole (the lens) is on the square; if it isn’t, your camera won’t work.

Now, take a small piece of carton with a little square in the middle and tape this on the front of your camera. The lens must be in the little square. Don’t tape the carton at the upper side. On that way, you are allowed to shove another piece of carton in it; this will be your shutter. It’s important to put a piece of insulation tape on the shutter so you are sure you film will not be exposed when you don’t want.

Now, take the unexposed en the empty film. Put at both sides of the case box a film and put the negatives though the box. Use sticky tape to stick the negatives. Then, shove the inside box in the case box. Make sure the two negatives are connected well by turning one and watching the other film turns. If there isn’t a negative in the empty film, I think it’s the best to stick a little piece of negative in the empty film

If this all is done you have to tape the entire camera. (except the lens of course) Make sure there can’t go any light in the camera so don’t try to save tape. The places where the negatives go in and out the box have the highest risk on light leakage so tape a few times more here.

Your pinhole camera is now ready to use!

Some tips:

  • To avoid the reflection of light I taped some tape in the inside of the matchbox, I’m not sure it works but it won’t harm the camera.
  • Draw an arrow on the camera so you know how you have to wind the film.
  • To wind the film you can use a key, hairpin or “a thing which you use to open a can of drink.”
  • Calculate your shutter speed and more at this site
  • If the film turns itself back you can avoid did by doing the following: Take a pellet of toilet paper and tape this at the upper side of the empty film.
  • One turn from 360 degrees is enough to wind to the next photo. I winded it three turns of 360 degrees and I only had 12 photos on a 36 exposure film.

My results:

I would like to see your camera and the photos you made with your pinhole camera. So send me some of your results and I will be very happy!

written by bbthom on 2012-07-31 #gear #tutorials #diy #pinhole #camera #tipster #matchbox #pinhole-camera #home-made #requested


  1. haziqhashim
    haziqhashim ·


  2. 110isnotdead
    110isnotdead ·

    Cool article, I;ll have to try that out.

  3. giovannidecarlo
    giovannidecarlo ·

    wow ! I'll try it !

  4. megzeazez
    megzeazez ·

    great idea!

  5. thebokeheffect
    thebokeheffect ·

    i love these!

  6. gatokinetik-o
    gatokinetik-o ·

    Great! i always wanted to do something like this!

  7. mixed-spice_chai
    mixed-spice_chai ·

    easy enough.. Thanks! :)

  8. juampis
    juampis ·

    Definitely trying this! I couldn't see well the photos, they were out of focus ;I

More Interesting Articles