Picture of 8X10 foldable pinhole camera
todays project is a pinhole camera made from 8X10 kodak paper boxes.
were gonna cover construction,theory/history,and get a short course in how to use it.
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Step 1: History lesson

simplified history
the effect of a pinhole in a curtain causing an image to be projected on wall was noticed by the first instructable writer{im referring to leonardo DaVinci} way back.
im not sure what the maestro thought of this but i expect he probably thought it was cool.
the whole setup was made portable for the amusement of kings and was called a camera obscura {latin for dark room} that invention was just a novelty and an aid in perspective drawing for artist for hundreds of years until the discovery of the properties of silver nitrate.

simplefied physics
light rays travel in a straight line from the point of origin unless something deflects them {air, water, wood ,you}.
as a consequence of this light is bouncing all over the place in a truly random fashion and for the most part the objects you look at are reflecting light back to your eyes where a lens focuses it onto your retina.
a pinhole acts like a lens in the way that it takes the wildly scattered bundles of light and only lets the ones bouncing straight off the subject and into the hole through cutting down on a lot of the backscatter. the finer the pinhole the sharper the image will be becuase only the true straight bounces off of your subject get through. this also makes the projected image rather dim so its unlikely you will be taking any nudes of yer girlfriend with this unless she can hold very still.
on to the construction

Step 2: Materials list

Picture of materials list
for this instructable you will need at least 1 light tight box{photo paper boxes are ideal]
a sheet of black bristol board{heavy card}
a roll of cloth hockey tape{black cloth and flexible glue could be substituted or black duct tape}
a ruler
white glue
1 empty pop tin
a very fine sewing needle
some small clamps

and to use the camera some 8x10 black and white photopaper.
a safe light
trays and chemicals for black and white paper.
arryns2 years ago
Here is the camera I made, thanks to your bellows instructions. The set that is currently on the camera was our first rough attempt. The bellows on the table is our second attempt. I am currently in the process of rebuilding this camera and taking the craftsmanship a bit more seriously. This was a "proof of concept," but it worked perfectly the first time. I will upload photos of the camera with our new bellows.

The next time I build a camera, I will document for this site.
lennyb (author)  arryns2 years ago
very nice.
never thought to use a floral on them.
nice work
arryns2 years ago
I tried out this method for making a bellows for a large format 8x10 camera and it worked like a charm! I was very skeptical that I would have the patience or ability to fold this well, but I have now added cloth to the bellows in a daring bid to "get fancy" with it. Thank you for posting this! I ended up building a fully functional camera because I was able to make custom bellows. Without this instruction I never would have thought to make one myself.
lennyb (author)  arryns2 years ago
im so glad you found it usefull.
you didnt by any chance make an instructable of your build did you?
i for one would like to see a picture of your camera.
thanks for looking
maccio953 years ago
YOU SAID POP TIN nobody where i live knows what that is they say "SODA"
Actually everyone from where I come from calls it "POP", but it doesn't mean we don't know what "SODA"means :)

My wife is from Atlanta and they call everything "COKE"
lennyb (author)  maccio953 years ago
actually we dont call it that here either we just say coke can or pepsi.
lol i was trying to be less obscure. so much for that.
Clayton H.4 years ago
when I finish my boxes in photo class, I'll use them to make one of these. Except it would be a 5x7 format.
920334 years ago
Want to ADD to your Pinhole Camera experimenting? Use an Electronic Flash for exposure. Set up your camera indoors. Flash the light from another flash camera or flash gun manually. Cover the pinhole and develope your paper film. Just visited your page...great photos...You can make an easy tripod base for use on the camera that doesn't have a tripod thread on the base.. Use a piece of 1/4" thick plywood or plastic. Drill a 1/4 inch hole in the center. Use double-face carpet tape or layer of rubber cement on face of the wood/plastic base and layer on bottom of camera. Stick together for a permanent bond. Screw your tripod screw into the hole and you're all set. Want 'simpler'? Lightly duct-tape it to tripod. Removes easily. Idea is to hold the camera still and level..this'll do the trick. Great Instructable mind-refresher for me...have been in photography all my lifetime...'1200 Year Old Highlander Immortal', y'know. :-) Which reminds me...Do you know what Jesus said to the Apostles at The Last Supper? "All you guys who want your picture taken, sit on this side of the table with Me". Moses was The First Photographer. He used a Pinhole Camera and Bolt Of Lightning for the FLASH. Came out pretty good, eh?
michaelpop5 years ago
Awesome ive tried making a few pinholes cameras whith varying succes , however most of my pictures come out with very little contrast ive tried reducing the aperture on my enlarger but it still seems dull and washed out... any tips on how to get better contrast in?
lennyb (author)  michaelpop5 years ago
you can try using a high contrast paper or graphic arts film.
if all you have to work with is polycontrast paper try exposing it without any contrast filters in.
you might also try mixing your paper developer stronger.
and last but not least scan your paper negative and adjust the contrast in photoshop or some other editing program.
hope this helps.
I love your tutorials!!! They are awesome
Skor4596 years ago
Reading your comment about wearing gloves while handling the development and printing chemicals made me giggle a bit. Last year I took photo class and we just used our bare hands and the occasional tongs. The unfortunate thing is that our development cannisters were often leaky, so I had to wash my sweatshirts very often, lest I wanted to offend people with my carcinogenic cologne. I also think we used that same timer for our enlargers. Its by crab labs or something like that, right? With outlets on the side?
lennyb (author)  Skor4596 years ago
yep its a crab labs timer alright. i have used similar ones from different makers before so i suspect its a widely copied design. an occasional finger dip in photo chemicals shouldnt hurt you but multiple exposure{23 years worth }will cause you to develop contact dermatitis complete with such lovely side effects as peeling fingers and sandpaper hands.
HAL 90007 years ago
I have the same enlarger timer!! i use it in my kitchen, ill never leave anything in the oven too long.BZZZZZZ!!! God, what an irritating sound. good instructable, i want to make a 35mm pinhole camera, im thinking about using sheets of brass from the hardware store, or just leftover copper sheets from the shop, i need more research before i do anything. whatever i do ill be sure t post an instructable.
lennyb (author)  HAL 90007 years ago
actually mine isnt hooked to a buzzer .instead it turns on the safelight when the exposure is finished. i tried a 35 mm one once made from a steel 35 mm film tin that a 100 foot roll of film came in it worked but the pic wasnt very clear when blown up. i always prefer to work in the size of print that i want. thanks for looking
marlin46227 years ago
how long was your exposure??? And how big was the actual image? Did it take up most of the paper?? thanks in advance
lennyb (author)  marlin46227 years ago
it was about 2 minutes but that was in bright sunshine. and could vary from pinhole to pinhole. the image you see is the entire surface of the 8x10 paper sheet. if you get all the image in the center then the camera is too short. thanks for looking
bobbyk8817 years ago
Kodak is trash. Fuji Flim rules!!!
Hear, hear! Well, mostly I reject Kodak because of their long history of planned obsolescence. Think of all those cool antique cameras that are mechanically very functional, but have obscure spool sizes. Also the film stocks that they have 'retired' despite all the objections of devotees. [yes, 120 film can be wound onto those odd spools, but that does not diminish my argument] Fuji has yummy greens, blues, and reds anyway.
isismarina7 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
lennyb (author)  isismarina7 years ago
i have no objections to them being printed. but you should check with the instructables team to be sure that they do not object. im thinking ewilhelm would be the one to talk with. if you use them please advise so i can tell my mom lol
AT7 years ago
Nicely done! It not only works but it looks cool as well. How about an Ilford box?
lennyb (author)  AT7 years ago
oh ya ilford boxes are good. its not readily available where i live and work but if ya got em smoke em.
AT lennyb7 years ago
Back in the day when I was doing some photography in college, my friend's neighbor sponsored our B&W film and paper. All the film and paper we needed. He was the local Ilford rep. I burned though quite a bit of film that quarter, and printed more than I would have other wise. I like the film canisters Ilford used. They were color coded caps.
Cool. I'll be using this for my world studies project. Can't wait to get started.
KentsOkay7 years ago
Cool man, I've always wanted to make a pinhole, but all the instructions I found were crap, I can't wait to build ths thing.
ericsnapple7 years ago
just a tip, when I made my pinhole camera, i took the soda can, took a large needle, tapped it on the metal to make a dent, then took some fine sandpaper and stroked it across the dent a couple of times. this made the tiniest hole imaginable. works great.
lennyb (author)  ericsnapple7 years ago
that is pretty much the only way to make one out of brass shim stock and i have made aluminum ones that way but that day i was building in between rain squalls and so did not take the time to do it properly
ve2vfd7 years ago
Love it! Simply love it! A pinhole cam that looks like an old large format cam is so cool! And the result is awesome, the "vintage look" of the pics is amazing.