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Picture of iPhone pinhole camera

One day I was browsing through 123D and Thingiverse when I noticed that no one had ever made a pinhole camera for the iPhone. Here we are in a world where 3D printing is a thing that exists and people are still taping tiny-holed cardboard squares over their iPhone cameras to achieve that coveted grainy look. Now you can save yourself the public humiliation of running around with cardboard on your iPhone and just 3D print a sleek plastic camera attachment instead.

(You can read my original blogpost for Autodesk's 123D blog and view/download my completed file on Tinkercad.)

 
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Step 1: Copy an existing iPhone case on Tinkercad

Netflix exists so you really don't have the time/patience to make your own case from scratch, am I right? I used this one. Simply click the drop down TINKER menu and select "duplicate and tinker" to work on the case on your own.

I promise the dimensions are correct and perfect-fitting, so you don't have to compulsively measure like I did.

Step 2: Chop it allllll off (or 80% of it)

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You don't want to have to wiggle your entire phone in and out of a case to take a pinhole photo.

For the sake of ease, let's turn this phone case into a phone attachment. Cut about 80% of the phone case (leaving just a little room under the camera) by covering the section to be chopped off with a cube. Then, make that cube into a hole by selecting it and shifting from "color" to "hole." Then, group the hole and the case to chop off the bottom components.

Step 3: Mirror the cropped phone case to create a hollow block

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In order to make your photo attachment more stable, you will need to provide some sort of front covering. The easiest way to do this is to duplicate your cropped piece of phone case (ALT and drag) and select "mirror" from the "align" drop down menu.

Then, group the mirrored piece and the original piece to create one solid piece that will slide on and off the top of your phone.

(Not pictured - You might also want to create a box of the same thickness as the rest of the piece to fill the hole that you've now created at the top. If accessing your lock button and volume controls is important to you while you take photos, leave the holes as they are.)

Step 4: Add the pinhole

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Create a cylinder and a smaller cylinder hole to be placed over the center of the camera.

You can manipulate the thickness of your cylinder to your liking. I did a number of iterations, but my favorite/the one that produced the best results had a thickness of 2mm with a 0.1mm pinhole.

I used Apple's developer guide to locate the center of the camera, which is 9.28mm away from the left side of the phone and 7.35mm away from the top of the phone. Place a ruler on your workplane and then create boxes with these dimensions to locate the absolute center. After positioning your pinhole over the center using your boxes as guides, delete the boxes and group everything.

Step 5: Print your pinhole & snap some photos

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I used an Objet500 to print my iPhone pinhole, but this could potentially work on a MakerBot as well.

Once you print your file, you'll have a beautiful pinhole camera on the go, with all the ease and convenience of iPhone photography with none of the hassle of an actual film-using pinhole cameras.

Your photos will be vintage-looking and instagram-worthy in minutes, no post-processing required.

why would you do this? a real pinhole camera does not make a 'round' picture -and in fact makes really clear focused pictures unless you suck at timing...??

Move your pinhole close enough to the film and yes you will get a round picture.

But that means you are using the pinhole incorrectly

which means you are using the pinhole incorrectly???

what? never did that and IME rounded edges were special effects achieved in the darkroom when making a print from the negative...if i had more energy i'd dig out a couple of photos to scan for ya...

Hilarious!

Clever!