Tutorial: Making the Argus C3 a Pinhole Camera

I was interested in pinhole photography but I did not have the money to lay down to get a good camera. A little ingenuity goes a long way.

The first pinhole camera I built was made from a Captain Crunch cereal box. The pictures turned out good, but operating the camera was very difficult. I decided to turn an easy to operate camera into a pinhole, the Argus C3.
These camera’s were massed produced in the United States from the 1940s-1960s. It was the top selling camera in the world for 30 years. This will make it very easy for you to find one. They are always many C3’s for sale on eBay and you can pick one up for $20 or less. They take really good pictures if you can find one with a clear lens that isn’t scratched. But you can also make a really nice pinhole out of them.

You are going to need these things.
-Argus C3
-thumb tack
-nail file or fine sand paper
-soda can
-small screwdriver set
-glue or caulk

I have already built mine but I will still use it to show you how to make it yourself. Lets get started lomoheads. The notes for each photo will be listed under the photo.

This is the Argus C3 untouched. This is where you will begin.

Step 1: Remove the big screw on the bottom on the lens. Turn the lens counter clockwise to unscrew it and it will come off.

Step 2: Unscrew the round silver disc on the right in this picture. It will unscrew by turning it counter clockwise.

Step3: Remove the gear that is underneath the big silver disc.

Step 4. Remove the silver ring that holds down the lens gear sleeve. You can pry the ring off with a screw driver. It is okay if it brakes because you will not need it.

Step 5: Here is everything removed. The brass ring that is left sticking out of the camera is what we will use to make our pinhole. It will unscrew from the base by turning it counter clockwise. You may need to use some channel lock pliers to remove it. The side of the sleeve that screws into the camera is the side that we will glue the pinhole into.

Step 6: Here is the brass sleeve removed. You can see the shutter here. No need to lube anything here in case you were tempted. Do not put any oil on the shutter. Just leave it alone.

Here are all the parts you removed. You can save them or throw them out. The choice is yours. (FYI: I have found that if I put the lens up to my iPhone’s camera is acts as a Macro lens. Really cool.)

Step 7: Find a soda or beer can and cut a big square out of it. Try to flatten out the metal the best you can. Put the brass sleeve on it and trace a circle on it with black marker.

Step 8: Use scissors to cut out the circle. Try to keep the circle as round as possible. Now set the disc on the brass sleeve to measure it up. It should set inside of the sleeve on top of the threads without falling all the way through it. If it is too big, keep cutting away a very little at a time. If you make it too big, you can get another soda can and start over.

Step 9: Use a thumb tack to make the pinhole into the disc. Try to put the hole dead in the middle the best you can. Also, try to make the hole as small and round as possible. The smaller and rounder the hole, the sharper the picture will be(so I’ve been told)

Step 10: Use a file to smooth out the surface where you made the pinhole. Be sure to clean up both side of the hole with you file.

Step 11: Set the round disc into the brass sleeve. Use caulk or thick glue to seal it all around the edges. Be careful not to plug up the pinhole with caulk. Let the caulk or glue sit overnight to make sure it is dry.

Step 12: After it is dry, use a black marker to color the inside of the disc. This will keep reflections from messing up your pictures.

Step 13: I also colored the outside around the pinhole with a black marker just to be sure. Now screw the brass sleeve back into the Argus C3

Here is the finished product. Now lets load it up and go take some pictures.

Film goes here. Canister goes on the right and the film will slide into the slit on the shaft on the left side. The film moves from right to left on these older Argus C3’s.

Here is the shutter button on the top right. You need to put the camera in B shutter mode so turn the dial that sits around the shutter button to B.

The lever on the front of the camera is the shutter cock. The shutter must be cocked before every shot.

Exposure times: To get the best results I suggest using 200 asa film. For very bright days 1-3 seconds. Cloudy days 4-9 seconds. Night time or indoors 20 or more second. I have found that it is really hard to overexpose the film, so when in doubt, add a few more seconds to the exposure time.

Go have fun. There is a lot more info on pinhole cameras and how to get certain focal lengths but I wanted to keep this tutorial simple. Tell me about your results and post a link to your pictures here.

Here are my results.

written by gnarlyleech on 2011-04-20 #gear #tutorials #camera #tutorial #tipster #camera-modification #argus-c3-pinhole-home-made-homemade-camera-35mm-photography-lomography #pinhole-masters-and-magic


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