Introduction: How to Make a Pinhole Camera Out of an Old Point N' Shoot

Picture of How to Make a Pinhole Camera Out of an Old Point N' Shoot

A pinhole camera is kind of a romantic throwback of the most basic cameras ever made. You can make a camera out of anything light tight, but if you don't have access to a darkroom or chemicals, you will need to use a camera that takes some standard film (35mm or 120). These instructions will lead you into making photos that look like some of the soft romantic shots that you may have seen from the early 20th century. They take time and patience, but they will be very unique and invite an element of chance into your photos.

Step 1: Finding the Right Camera to Alter

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You are a hunter. The first thing you want to find is an eyeglass fixing kit, they have these teensy screwdrivers in them. When you have said teensy screwdriver in hand, head to your local thrift store and find the section with discarded, disregarded, disrespected, and dashingly simple viewfinder cameras.

Rule of thumb: the simpler, the better. If you can't figure out how it comes apart don't buy it- take your screwdriver and make sure it fits into the teensy camera screws- not all teensy screws are alike!

Step 2: Dismantling

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Take that tiny screwdriver and unscrew the body of the camera. Once you're staring into the open body of your camera, you need to locate the shutter. The shutter is the part that opens and closes quickly when you push the trigger to take a picture. Every camera looks a bit different, so don't worry if it's hard to find- keep looking. Once you've located the shutter, you need to find a way to either remove it or hold it open using tape (if you don't want to permanently alter the camera).

This photo is of a different kind of camera, just to illustrate variety.

Step 3: Making Our Own Lenses

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When you make your own lens you make the camera your own. No two cameras or photos will be alike. Take some tinfoil and cut it into a square just big enough to cover the lens opening. (Try to keep it wrinkle free!) Now put that foil onto something flat (a pad of paper works well)- and stick it with the sewing needle. Your hole will be tiny- this is good- just make sure that you can see some light through it when you hold it up. A fine focus can be achieved by sticking your needle into the foil just a millimeter or two. Now attach your tinfoil lens to the camera, I recommend using black electrical tape. It's tricky, but try your best to center the tiny hole over the lens opening.

Now find all those teensy screws and put your camera back together.

Step 4: Making the Shutter

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Take something rigid like cardboard or stiff paper, the blacker the better. Cut it so it generously covers your lens opening. Apply this to the camera using tape so that your shutter flap is easy to open and close. Attach a bit of tape that trails over the bottom of your shutter to keep it closed.

Step 5: You've Done It! You've Made Your Own Camera!

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Now it's time to take some photos.
  • Some hints: You need good light to get good photos.
  • You have to hold the shutter open from 4-7 seconds depending on the camera, the light, and the size of your pinhole lens, so experiment a bit.
  • The camera needs to stay still while the shutter is open, so put it up on something to steady it!
  • After you silently and patiently take your photo, you need to click on the shoot button to advance the film. (Or don't- and you'll get a double exposure- which can be really cool to play with!)

Here are some photos I recently took with the pinhole that I made, shown in the instructions. It took some adjustments, I had to take notes and adjust my "shutter speed" according to different lighting conditions. If you modify a little camera like the one shown, a good place to start is 5 seconds of exposure time. Good luck!

Comments

ArthurL (author)2014-10-06

I just read this instructable. I cannot see anything in the instructions about removing the camera's original lens. It seems to me that your camera is simply a normal camera with a very small aperture added. This does not make it a pinhole camera in my opinion. Pinhole cameras do not have a lens.

GarrasP (author)ArthurL2015-06-21

You simply push it out with a punch or dowel. They are not very well secured in there. Mine was a tight fit and staked in with a heat appliance.

Darwinfish (author)2010-12-15

The last two shots are really, really cool. Good work. :-)

HannahMadeIt (author)2009-08-29

No comments yet? Crazy! I followed these directions and tried my camera out today, and it worked brilliantly. Posted the results here. Thanks for a great Instructable!

92033 (author)HannahMadeIt2010-06-06

saellys... Just visited your page...great photos...especially the one of the bridge. You can make an easy tripod base for use on the camera. 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 tripos 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?

Those photo's are great!

Ceiling cat (author)HannahMadeIt2009-09-04

Couldn't you just use the lens cover as a shutter?

ablisspirate (author)Ceiling cat2009-09-06

You can use whatever you want as long as it doesn't let any light in and it's easy to remove and replace when you want to take a picture. If it doesn't get out of the way smoothly, then you will jiggle the camera and will get a blurry image or no image at all.

frostingfish (author)2010-02-25

Just removed my shutter!...Then I read cristianokunst post now I wonder if I need to remove the little glass lenses/optics that are inside the point and shoot? Anyone?Anyone?

ck0050 (author)2009-11-24

 but pinhole has NO lenses...
Im trying to make one without the optics, or else I dont know if we can get focus using the pinhole + the lenses.

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