Introduction: DSLR Pinhole Camera

About: It's not about me, it's all about making a better world!

In this fast changing world where technology is growing rapidly and we are surrounded by gadgets without whom we simply cannot imagine how our lives could have been else wise. Let's focus on one such gadget that has revolutionised the entire world. A digital camera. The first camera was created in the year 1839 by Alphonse Giroux. Since then, it has been modified a lot until a point where today, we even have built-in cameras in smart watches that rests on our wrists. But how many of us actually think and wonder how does a camera really functions? Or, how did Alphonse Giroux get the idea and made the first ever camera in the world? It's a very fascinating idea with a beautiful explanation.

Coming to my Instructables, I'll be showing you how to make a camera a.k.a a pinhole camera made from scratch and the concept behind how it works. Please follow along and I can assure you that you don't have to have a scientific mind in order to understand the whole process of how to make such a device and how it works.


Here are the materials and tools that you will need to make this camera. All of them can be found at home if not, a stationary shop will definitely have all the tools and materials. Gather the items and let's get started.

  • Cardboard
  • Butter paper
  • Brown tape
  • Glue (quick fix)
  • Cutting blade
  • Scissors
  • Pin
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Geometry box
  • Candle & lighter

Step 1: The Science Behind the Pinhole Camera

A pinhole camera is a camera made without any physical lenses or mirror and has a very simple and straightforward mechanism to it. It's a camera with a tiny opening usually made with a pin (that's why it's called a pinhole camera) at the front for light to enter. When light goes through the pinhole, it creates an inverted image at the back of the box. Have a look at the schematic to have a better understanding of how the whole device works.

Step 2: Making the Body of the Camera

I've made the camera in the size of an actual Canon SLR. For the screen, I have cut a (6cm x 4cm) rectangle and glued a piece of butter paper the size of the screen. For the front piece of the body, cut a square piece of (5cm x 5cm) exactly opposite of the screen. This is for fixing the lens to the camera's body in the future.

Once the pieces are cut, tape the pieces respectively. I have used brown tape to give it an even look from every angle.

Note: Make sure the tape doesn't over lays the screen of the camera, else it will obscure parts of the screen and the final result of the camera won't be as expected and effective.

Camera's body size:

(12.5cm x 7.5cm) -2x (Front and back pieces of the body)

(7.5cm x 4.5cm) - 2x (Left and right side of the body)

(12.5cm x 4.5cm) - 2x (Top and bottom side of the body)

Step 3: Making the Lens

Once the body is made, the next big thing to do is the lens. Cut four equal pieces for making a square shaped lens and a square piece to cover the opening of the lens.

Note:The lens's cover is finally a (5cm x 5cm) piece but I cut a (7cm x 7cm) piece because I can cut 1cm from each four sides and glue that extra bit to the lens's body in order to have a better grip. (Please look at the image to have a visual clarity as to what I'm talking about.)

Finally, I taped brown tape all over the lens. Once, it's taped completely, trace two lines from each diagonal corners of the lens to find the centre and with the help of a pin, gently make a small hole. Please make sure that the hole isn't too big or else the image created at the back of the camera won't be very clear.

Lens size:

(5cm x 10cm) -4x (The four sides of the square shaped lens)

(7cm x 7cm) -1x (Cover for the lens)

Step 4: Camera Grip & Button to Click Picture

To make the grip for holding the camera, cut two semi circular shaped pieces and a rectangular piece for joining the top and bottom semi circular shaped pieces together. Cover the back with another strip of a rectangular piece.

Note:The top and bottom pieces are fully exactly a semi circular piece. They are shaped in that way but not perfectly semi circular. Glue all the pieces together and tape them neatly.

Now coming to the button, Simply cut two small circles from your cardboard and glue them together and tape them.

Grip size:

[3cm (flat side) x 2.5cm (rounded side)] -2x (Top & bottom semi circular shaped pieces)

(7.5cm x 5.2cm) - 1x (Handle for the grip)

(7.5cm x 3cm) -1x (Back of the grip)

Button size:

(1cm diameter) -2x

Step 5: Eyecup for the Camera

Coming to the eyecup, cut a small rectangular piece and four smaller strips to make the border for the eyecup. Glue the pieces together and tape them.

Note: I have only taped the border of the eyecup and not the viewer (rectangular piece) because to give it a different feel and look.

Eyecup size:

(3cm x 2cm) -1x (Rectangle piece)

(3cm x 0.5cm) -2x (Top & bottom strips)

(1cm x 0.5cm) -2x (Left & right strips)

Step 6: Flash, Buttons and Secondary LCD Display

For making the flash holder, cut three pieces (the base having the biggest surface, then the two others gradually deteriorating in width and length). Glue them on top of one another and tape them. It should look like a base of a pyramid.

To make the selecting buttons that are seen on an actual DSLR, cut a disk size piece and tape it evenly.

Lastly, coming to the secondary LCD display, cut a rectangular piece. I didn't tape it because as it's a screen similar to the viewer, I let it be different from the rest of the camera texture.

Flash holder size:

(4.5cm x 4.5cm) -1x (Base of the flash holder)

(4cm x 4cm) -1x (Level 2 of the flash holder)

(3.5cm x 3.5cm) - 1x (Top level of the flash holder)

Buttons size:

(2cm radius for outer circle)

(1cm radius for inner circle)

Secondary LCD display size:

(3.5cm x 2cm) -1x

Step 7: Assemble All the Pieces Together

Now that you have all the individual pieces ready, glue and tape them together.

Note: While fixing the lens to the camera's body, make sure it's taped well so that there's no possibility for light to enter through other openings. If needed, tape the joining places twice to make it more sturdy and secure.

And you're ready! All you've left to do is test your newly made pinhole camera.

Step 8: Experimenting With the Camera

Light a candle and place it on a sturdy surface. Make the room completely dark and hold the pinhole camera at eye level. Move the camera accordingly until you capture an inverted image of the flame on the screen of the camera.

Congratulations! If you're getting this result, you have successfully made a camera all by yourself!

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