Introduction: 8X10 Foldable Pinhole Camera

About: i am a photolab technician and an incurable packrat. i have made swords ,chainmail, crossbows.cameras,bike trailers,kayaks,guitars{slide and electric},knives,various film winders and vacum easels for the phot…

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.

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

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.

Step 3: Making a Bellows

you really dont need a bellows for a pinhole camera any light tight box will do
but a bellows gives this camera foldabilty , multiple focal lengths{like a zoom lens} and just looks so cool.
now im not going to go into microscopic detail on how to make a bellows cause ive already done that here..... ....but i did take some pictures and also came up with an alternate method to score the fold lines.

heres a quick rundown of the steps
the first step is to cut the sheet of bristol board into 4 equal sections.
then you need to score parallel lines in it one half inch apart (this is to make it easy to fold)
then you decide if you want straight or tapered bellows{stick with a straight one until you have made at least one}.
measure how big your bellows needs to be and make your sides one half inch less than you need {the folds will take up the rest..there is a real danger of making your bellows too large for the box}
lay out two adjacent sections side by side 1/2 inch apart but with the lines matching.
using the hockey tape {this is the trickiest bit} carefully cover the joint between the sheets keeping them parallel .
then turn the sheet over and tape the other side of the joint so you should have two sheets with a 1/2 inch gap covered in cloth tape{duct tape will not fold up correctly but it can be used in a pinch}.
now join the third and fourth sides to the others in same way.
when its time to close the fourth side to the first place the tape on one side from the bottom or inside of the sheet gently position the other side then when its right and aligned press it down and put the last tape on top .
now what you should have is a square box about 11 inches high by 7.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches wide.
next you need to fold over one of the top edges turn the assembly 90 degrees then fold the next top in the opposite direction from the first one. once you have folded all the way around start on the next line down and fold it in the opposite direction from the fold above{i suggest you practice first or read this } much better detail there really

the new way i had of scoring the lines involves the paper cutter in the pictures
it has deep slots at 1/2 inch intervals that are square with the top bar . by holding the sheets onto the cutter i was able to score the lines using a dead ball point pen as a stylus{the pen came back to life during this step and i made a mess over myself lol].
i dont think its likely many people will have such a thing but i thought id mention it

Step 4: The Body

you will notice im going to use 3 boxes for this camera 2 full ones and the cover from a third.
the box we choose to be the back will have the inside laid into the cover to form a tray.
the we drop the bellows into the tray and mark around the inside with a pen this give us the line to cut on and leaves a shelf to glue the bellows to.
be very particular when cutting out this section because any rough edges will show in your pictures.
next the front of the camera in the very center of the lid cut out a hole dont make it too big because you have to cover it with the pinhole a 1 inch square should do it..
turn this box over then cut a larger hole on the other side it should be at least 1 inch smaller than the end of the bellows that will glue there.
since like me you will probably use a box cutter for this be very careful not to cut yourself and bleed all over the camera.
now onto the joining

Step 5: Glue Up Time

the next step is to take your bellows and glue it into the back{if you did your measurements right it ought to drop right in there } use white glue for this make a bead around the inside of the box and press it in there.
use lots of little clamps to hold it together until the glue sets up a bit 1/2 hour at least.
once that has set up take the clamps off and put the cover on the back that will help keep it square for the next step.
tape the two halves of the front box together and press glue it to the top of the bellows .
put lots of glue well spread out on the bellows top place the box on top and then gently press down to compress the bellows and and align the two boxes with each other.
let the bellows return to the top slowly and then place some weight on top to keep it clamped
now we need a pinhole.

Step 6: Pinhole

this is a very simple step but it can still be messed up easily.
try several different pinholes until you get one you like
the idea is to make a very tiny hole {as small as possible } in a thin bit of sheet metal.
in this case aluminum from a coke can sheet .brass shim stock makes the best pinholes but i dont have any.
carefully cut the can apart and cut a 2 inch square sheet from it {blood zone for the less handy among us wear gloves}
the trick to making a very tiny hole is to put your 2x2 square of aluminum of an firm surface then use the smallest sewing needle you can find very gently push the point into the center of the 2 inch square of aluminum but dont break through yet , gently spin the square around so the hole is small and circular.
if you can just barely see a spark of light when you hold it up it will work.
tape the square over the hole cut in the cover
now its finished

Step 7: How to Take a Picture

ok this is going to sound oversimplified but i cant help it ,it is simple.
what you need to do now is take your camera into the darkroom{it needs to be very dark}
take off the back cover , put a sheet of black and white photo paper in it with the emulsion facing the
pinhole, use clamps to hold the back on so it doesnt slip off or leak light ,put a scrap of tape over the lens{hole} for a shutter or if your real clever build a shutter inside the box ,lord knows theres enough room in there}. put the camera into the cover of the 3rd box tape it in place so it cant move too easily
bring it outside, point it at the object or scene you want to photograph {dont try to handhold}and leave it alone for 15 minutes.
when the exposure is complete put the tape back over the hole again.
take it back to the darkroom and develop the negative.
now this bit is not so simple.
if you dont know how to develop the paper go to the library and take out a book on black and white printing or find a friend who has a darkroom.
a lot of art programs in schools can set up a darkroom for the students to use for this very thing.
black and white printing is old hat to me {i have been doing it professionally for 23 years}
i will be happy to answer any questions about it
next the result

Step 8: The Results

picture 1 is the negative scanned in photoshop
picture 2 is the positive made by inverting the image then flipping it horizontally
picture 3 is the same after a bit of tweaking
picture 4 is what it looks like from a kodak digital
i know its not a very good image but with a more carefully made pinhole a much better image can be made.
also its not a very exciting scene either {as much as i love my lawn chairs}
the lines running from top to bottom are most likely caused by a ragged edge on the pinole.
i will make another and try again.

the traditional way to print pinhole pictures is to place the finished dried negative onto an unexposed sheet of photo paper place a sheet of glass over that and pass a measured amount of light through the negative to expose the paper beneath... but who needs that when you have a scanner.. save your photo paper for making negs.
any questions??
if so dont hesitate to ask
i know ive probably skimmed through some tough bits but its because this stuff is so simple to me that i expect everyone else to know it too.
later folks

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